photos by Alyssa DiCaterino
Reggae Rise Up returned to St. Petersburg, Florida, last weekend for its fifth year. This festival has always been a favorite of mine because it’s such a serene start to my festival season. It’s the perfect place to unwind or de-stress, and I look forward to it every single year. With a location in paradise, good-natured people, and unwinding music, it’s like the calm before the storm that is festival season.
Reggae Rise Up takes place in Vinoy Park, right in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg. Ignoring the fact that parking in that area is an absolute nightmare (please plan ahead for that), it’s an amazing location for a festival. What makes this area so great for Reggae Rise Up is the fact that it is right on the water. People will pull up on their boats, just close enough, so that they can get a taste of the reggae. People would jump in the water with giant flamingo inflatables and just let the music (and the waves) take control. Artists were even doing live mural paintings by the water all weekend. And just around sunset, every afternoon, you could find everyone sitting on the edge of the water cheering on the sun as it went down behind the clouds. The location played a big part in setting the mood for the weekend.
The people at Reggae Rise Up are some of the kindest, most laid back festival goers I’ve ever come across. From attendees, to volunteers, staff, to even the musicians, everyone seems to collectively be on the ultimate relaxation vacation. As someone who attended Reggae Rise Up alone, I felt extremely included in everything thanks to the warm-welcoming people I came across. With volleyball tournaments, slacklining, yoga flows, and hammock sessions, there was always something to do at Reggae Rise Up, and plenty of people to do it with. I even happened to come across some Hula fam during the weekend, and it all just felt like one big family reunion.
This year’s Reggae Rise Up lineup was undoubtedly my favorite. Since starting off as a one-day fest for the first two years, then growing to two days for their third year, and now being a full three-day fest for their fourth and fifth years, Reggae Rise up seems to have only improved with the artists they book. I don’t think anyone can be listening to reggae with a worry in their mind or frown on their face.
Stick Figure was probably the best set from the weekend. I may be a little bit biased, however, because they’re one of my favorite reggae artists right now. Accompanied on stage by Cocoa the Tour Dog, Stick Figure gave a really fun performance, and the crowd was an absolute blast that night.
It’s been a hot minute since I’ve seen Ziggy take the stage at a festival. I always love seeing any of the Marley brothers continue the legacy their father started, and I think Ziggy reminds me the most of him. With a nice, cool, cloudy day, Ziggy Marley’s set on Saturday was soothing.
After almost four months of no-festing, I guess I got a little rusty. I was pretty tired by the last day of Reggae Rise Up. I was wiped, and ready to go home. Tribal Seeds, however, got me back into my groove and gave me that little boost of energy to finish out the night strong. It was a lot of fun to dance with some new friends, and enjoy the last bit of reggae for the weekend.