BPM Festival 2017 dates are set for what promises to be the biggest and best BPM Festival yet. From January 6th through the 15th, 2017, the BPM will celebrate its tenth anniversary in Playa del Carmen. More than 365 artists are expected to participate in the ten-day festival, whose crowd is expected to top 80,000 BPMers.
Check out the link for the 2017 BPM line-up and ticket information.
As part of the ten-year anniversary celebration, festival organizers sold a first round of super early bird tickets online. The result surpassed all expectations with the specially-priced festival passes selling out in a mere 27 minutes.
PlayaDelCarmen.com sat down with Alessandra Axelsson, Director of Operations & Finances for the BPM Festival, and Maria Azana, whose PR company makes sure that the BPM community continues to grow in Mexico and worldwide. They share their thoughts on the growth of the BPM, the festival’s impact on the community, the challenges or organizing such a major event, and most importantly, what we can expect this year and going forward.
THE GROWTH OF THE BPM FESTIVAL
Ten years after its humble beginnings in a Playa del Carmen much different than the one we see today, BPM has become one of the most well-known musical festivals in the world. Some have even called it Ibiza 2.0. But how many of us out there know what BPM stands for?
The idea for the BPM Festival developed out of a group of friends looking to organize something for themselves. Veterans of the hospitality industry, and all too familiar with the low-season blues directly after the New Year’s celebration, they sought out a place to have a sort of friendly retreat. Relax and mingle during the day, party at night.
After considering several other locations, including a Caribbean island or somewhere in South America, Playa del Carmen won the coin toss and was selected as the destination of choice for the first BPM. Perhaps it helped that two of the founders of the festival found themselves together drinking beers and the occasional tequila on the white sands beaches of this charming town on the Caribbean Sea.
And so was born what would soon become a legend: the Bartenders, Promoters, and Managers/Musicians (BPM) Festival.
A CHANGING LANDSCAPE – PLAYA DEL CARMEN
Like the BPM Festival itself, which grew from an estimated 5,000 festival-goers at its first edition in 2008 to almost 70,000 last year, Playa del Carmen continues to grow and develop as a city. In fact, Playa’s population has grown from under 160,000 in 2005 to more than 215,000 today.
When asked about this parallel growth of the festival and the town that hosts it, Alessandra Axelsson, Director of Operations & Finances for the BPM Festival, expressed her thoughts.
“What’s really nice is that for us as BPM it almost feels like we grew up together, simultaneously.”
Historically, January is a slow month for tourism in the Riviera Maya. Fewer people travel, resulting in lower occupancy rates, slower sales, and even a spike in unemployment lasting anywhere from after the end of year celebrations and up until around Spring Break.
“I think that the BPM helps flip the coin on a season that was previously a lull. The BPM has bridged a kind of a gap going from the New Year’s season into like Spring Break or February, which is nice and has probably contributed a little bit to the growth of Playa del Carmen, too.”
“The city has contributed to our growth and we have contributed to the city’s growth,” she added.
THE IMPACTS OF THE BPM FESTIVAL IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN
Whether you’re a fan of electronic music and what’s arguably it’s most important festival expression this side of the Americas, there’s no denying the impact that the BPM Festival has had on the region.
Imagine around 70,000 people, which is the number of festival-goers estimated to have attended some portion of the 2016 BPM Festival, coming to a town of approximately 200,000 people (2015). Between plane tickets, accommodations, transportation from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen, festival passes, food, drink and the occasional souvenir, the impact is significant, especially during low season.
Combining all the cost factors together, festival organizers estimated that a BPMer spends anywhere from 500 to 700 USD per day.
THE BPM FESTIVAL GIVES BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
But beyond the numbers and the dollar signs, there’s another aspect of the BPM Festival’s impact in Playa del Carmen, less publicized but no less important.
“We do a bunch of other things all year long. We work with all kinds of organizations, from animal organizations to DIF (the city’s social program for families), to the local soccer team, kids’ organizations, you name it,” explains Alessandra.
“We’ve tried to touch a little bit of everything here in the community, and we do various events. We’ll host events to raise money and raise awareness, or we’ll do various donations.”
However, being conscious of your role in the community is one thing, and the possible negative impact left by festival-goers another.
Trash and cigarette butts, the later which are non-biodegradable and extremely toxic to marine life, left on the beach are two of the biggest issues related to the influx of such a large and diverse crowd.
“Are our fans conscious of this? If they’re not being as conscious as they could be, then what can we do to make sure that we pick up after them?” asks Maria Azana, the brains behind theBPM’s Green Team.
The initiative seeks to counteract the possible negative environmental impacts of the festival. The Green Team cleans the streets and beaches, participates in recycling programs, and involves the BPMers along the way.
“Outside of an energy in your heart and soul, we don’t want the environment to feel that we were here,” explained Alessandra.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE BPM FESTIVAL
The BPM Festival has come a long way since its first edition in 2008. It has matured and evolved, going through each stage of the process with the expected growing pains and challenges. Preparations for the next edition of the festival generally start a mere four weeks after the previous incarnation. A team of 18 people, which swells to around 1,000 once the festival finally rolls around, keep things afloat, paying attention to thousands of small details of which festival-goers are largely oblivious.
“It’s intense. Strange challenges just pop up out of nowhere. Every year we’re presented with a new set of difficulties that we overcome, the following year and we make improvements on them, and then the next year we’re presented with a fresh set of completely different challenges. It keeps us on our toes,” relates Alessandra.
Part of the challenge involves finding the right venues for such an overwhelming and intense ten-day entreprise. As the number of BPMers grow, so too does the need to offer spaces that can fulfill crowd requirements. Last year, the BPM introduced its very own jungle venue, built exclusively for the festival.
BPM FESTIVAL 2017 – BIGGER & BETTER
After nine years of undeniable success and constant growth, with each version of the BPM Festival bigger and better than the last, festival organizers are under a lot of pressure to outdo themselves once again.
Alessandra predicts that with this being the tenth anniversary, the staggering number of BPMers is going to increase significantly over the already mind-blowing 70,000 festival-goers from last year.
That said, however, not all of those people are concentrated in one place at one time but spread out over several venues during a ten-day period.
While it’s too early for specifics, Alessandra promises to announce some pleasant surprises at the tenth-anniversary press conference.
“I think the lineup is probably going to be one of our biggest surprises for our ten year anniversary. We’re really paying a lot of attention to some special stuff this coming year that has never been seen on this side of the world before. We’ll just leave it at that.”
Ouch. The bar has been set.
TIPS FOR FIRST-TIMERS OF THE BPM FESTIVAL
Both veteran BPMers and BPM virgins could benefit from a few tips on how to make the best of this year’s festival.
One important piece of BPM advice comes in the form of the festival’s Amigo Code. Like a code of conduct, it helps guide festival-goers on how to stay safe and have a good time.
The Amigo Code invites BPMers to place recyclables in their designated Green Team stations, to show patience and respect, and to not drink on the streets, among others recommendations.
Festival organizers also suggest that the BPMers get out and discover the local culture and cuisine. First-timers, for instance, should wander off 5th Avenue and try some real tacos and the local cuisine at Playa del Carmen restaurants. Likewise, festival-goers should plan time to find things to do in Playa del Carmen such as visiting the Mayan ruins andswimming in cenotes as well as discovering the fascinating underwater world of the Caribbean Sea on a snorkeling or diving excursion.
BEYOND PLAYA DEL CARMEN: BPM FESTIVAL TO HIT THE ROAD
As children become teenagers and teenagers turn into adults, the time eventually comes when that child is now a grown-up, ready to conquer the world far from the confines of his or her own home.
The BPM Festival is no different.
Last year, the BPM Festival organized a series of pre-festival music events at some of the world’s most important metropolis. Barcelona, London, L.A., Mexico City and Toronto formed part of the list of distinguished international cities hosting the BPM Festival On The Road. This year, that tradition will continue starting June 15th in Barcelona. In total, ten events will be held as part of the celebratory On the Road to Ten Years of BPM pre-festival shows.
But those are mere baby steps.
The BPM Festival is finally ready to announce what many have been speculating about for years.
“Over the last two years we’ve been getting people prepared lightly talking about expansion plans,” explains Alessandra.
“I can definitely confirm that we will be making the announcements this year at our ten-year anniversary press conference. Our home and our heart will always stay in Playa, but we’re going on the road,” she added.
BPM FESTIVAL TICKETS 2017
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the super early bird tickets sold out in less than thirty minutes. The next early bird round of festival passes will go on sale on July 1st. In honor of the festival’s tenth anniversary, a limited number of three-day, opening, closing and seven-day passes will be available for purchase. After that, regular prices will be made public by August, and the cost of individual tickets will be announced together with the full event schedule in the fall.
Keep up-to-date with all the exciting details of the upcoming tenth anniversary celebration of the BPM Festival 2017 website. You can also check out our links for top BPM hotel accommodations, airport transfers, and Playa del Carmen excursions.