Written and all photos by Rebecca Hollman
Zamna is a multi-day long “festival” spread across different days and different venues in Tulum, Mexico. It is similar to Miami Music Week, with the events being spread across town and made up of smaller day parties, usually hosted by different record labels. Zamna started on December 28th and wrapped up on January 8th with Tale of Us Presents Afterlife. Besides the Zamna events, there were many other events and mini-festivals going on in Tulum at the same time so it lead to a crazy, music-packed week.
All the Zamna events either took place at Mía Beach, a restaurant on Tulum Beach or at the official Zamna venue, located about 10 minutes more inland from Tulum Town. Mía Beach was the host for all the day parties, with a stage located on the beach while Zamna was the host for all the night parties. The week started off with a night event at Zamna on December 28th with a Bob Moses club set headliner. The next party was xxWinterBeach 1.0 for New Year’s Eve with Paul Kalkbrenner and Agents of Time. January 1st saw only an ARTBAT day party at Mía Beach. January 2nd was the second installation of xxWinterBeach, this time with Guy Gerber, Damian Lazarus and Diplo. January 3rd was another day party, this time hosted by Miami’s own Do Not Sit on the Furniture. January 4th saw the best party of the whole event: Renaissance. This one was more of a mini festival with multiple stages and next level production. Adam Beyer b2b Ida Engberg, Charlotte de Witte, and Nicole Moudaber b2b Danny Tenaglia are just some of the sets we saw at this event. January 5th was a Flying Circus label day party with Audiofly and Andhim. January 6th and 7th saw chill evenings with Blond:ish/Black Coffee and WhoMadeWho, respectively. January 8th closed off the event with another mini festival: Afterlife. Tale Of Us, Adriatique, Mind Against, Keinemusik, Denis Horvat and more threw down for the final event of the whole Zamna week.
There were two main venues for all the Zamna parties – Mía Beach for the day and Zamna for the night. Mía Beach was a smaller venue directly on the beach. There was one stage on the sand, a little bar area behind it, a raised VIP area to the side, and access to the actual ocean, along with beach chairs to lay on, and the restaurant inside the building. It was a great chilled out venue, perfect for day parties after staying up all night the night before. You could lay on the beach or in one of the beach chairs and still hear the music perfectly. A lot of the time I would just lay down and relax and hear beautiful progressive techno like ARTBAT in the background. These events usually went from around 2-3 PM to 8 PM, so you could get some sun, watch the sunset and see a little bit of music after the sun went down. This was a great venue if you were staying in the Tulum Beach area, however it was quite far away from Tulum town.
The night party venue, just called Zamna, wasn’t another venue that they took over and used for Zamna but actually a specifically created venue for Zamna. This venue was more in the jungle, about 10-15 minute drive more inland from Tulum town. Some nights it had one stage while others it had two, depending on the size of the party. Every single event had a different stage setup so they must have taken down and rebuilt a new stage every single day for the next party. Besides the two stages, there was a large area with clothing and jewelry vendors, as well as a food truck courtyard serving up delicious food, including lots of vegan and vegetarian options. The venue was spread across a big area and included a cenote inside. You couldn’t swim in this cenote but it definitely gave a vibe when you had to walk over a bridge across a cenote to get to a stage. The night parties usually wrapped up right after sunrise, between 7 AM to 10 AM depending on the artist. This led to a pretty insane week with people staying up until 10 AM 8 nights, or more, in a row.
Honestly, I was legitimately impressed with the sound quality, the light and stage production, and the overall implementation of Zamna Tulum. I thought all of the parties were well executed, the lineups were insane, the crowds were very fun to be around. There was a little bit of rampant drug use and also “drug dealers” galore, but it is Mexico so you have to take that with a grain of salt.
Logistically, being in Tulum during New Year’s and January in general is a nightmare. The whole town is packed to the gills with tourists, festival attendees and locals. Honestly, it is too much and it feels like the town might explode. One of the nights multiple restaurants had flat out run out of food. Also, Tulum is spread out into two main parts (Tulum beach and Tulum town) that are not easily accessible to each other. It is a 2-3 hour walk apart or a 15 minute car ride with no traffic. Add January traffic and even driving can take 45+ minutes. If you have your own car or moped, this can make it slightly easier but there is also almost no parking so it still makes it hard to drive. If you take a taxi, it can cost upwards of 1,000 pesos each way ($50 USD). There were a few nights where the traffic was so bad and taxis were still saying they cost 1,000 pesos so I just hoofed it back into town – in platform sandals on the worst potholed roads imaginable with no street lights.
If you were staying in Tulum beach then it made it easier to reach Mía but harder to get to Zamna. No matter where you stayed, you were going to spend a lot of money on taxis getting to and from multiple events each day. As I was by myself, I thankfully talked my way into rides with other groups of people to make it much cheaper. If I had to pay for a taxi by myself every time I would have spent all my life savings! It is also possible to rent a bicycle or moped in Tulum, but the whole two weeks I was there every single rental place was totally booked up and had nothing to rent.
Overall, I thought Zamna was an epic event through and through! The only downside for me was being in Tulum during that time. Because of New Year’s, the festivals, and just it being January, Tulum was crowded to the max. This really detracted from the time that I had because of the super raised price of taxis and accommodation, restaurants running out of food, rental places running out of cars/bikes/mopeds, all the attractions around being so crowded you couldn’t enjoy them, etc. Besides Tulum being much too overcrowded, the Zamna events didn’t feel super overcrowded. The vibes were surprisingly chill, I met so many amazing human beings, the sets and lineups were out of this world good, the sound/light/stage production was much better than I expected, and the venues were super well done! I would definitely recommend Zamna, but only if you make arrangements for cars and accommodations really far in advance.