It’s Cyprus’ answer to Glastonbury: two days of utter escapism in the heat of summer, the highlight of a festival-goer’s year. It’s music and dance, theatrics and projects, campsite partying and moonlight madness; community, recreation and the ultimate in creativity… And there’s simply no other event on the island which compares. This is the AfroBanana Republic Festival, and it’s already an island legend!
Now in its sixth year, this two-day festival falls under the auspices of Alternative Brains Rule, a non-profit entity which thrives on the unusual and the different. With countless events under their umbrella (including the recent smash-hit ABR IN LAB, a singular exhibition which brought together local and foreign artists in the creation of spectacular installation art), ABR has always spotlighted high quality experiential events with a focus on innovation, inspiration and self-expression. Which leads us back to the AfroBanana Republic Festival, which will be taking over the beautiful Kornos Forest for the weekend of August 19 and 20…
Having earned international recognition as one of Europe’s finest festivals, and honoured last year with the EFFE (Europe for Festivals) label, the AfroBanana Republic sits alongside such noteworthy events as The London Jazz Festival, Germany’s World Music Expo, and the 70-year-old Festival D’Avignon in France. And it’s “an experience rather than merely a festival; it’s a getaway which has been specifically designed to create a community of like-minded people,” explains Constantinos Kyprianou, a leading light of the ABR team (which consists of a wide mix of “forward thinking creative talents, from graphic designers, photographers and architects, to music producers, set designers and film producers”).
“All ages, all genres, all interests are catered for,” he reveals, in a festival that has it all – and then some. “Surrealism and discovery go hand in hand, as spectacular musical inspirations meet artistic interventions in an otherworldly fashion; the transformation of Kornos forest into an energetic hub of creativity, where norms are shunned, and a brilliant touch of magic draws crowds into a vibrant parallel universe where anything and everything is possible!
“From the moment you walk in through the gate, there are so many things happening around you: music, art, radio installations in the trees, swimming pools, tai chi, yoga… This year there’s even a festival app which works with augmented reality,” he reveals. “You can see who’s playing next by pointing your phone camera at the stage, or wander through the forest discovering virtual art among the trees. It’s the superimposing of two worlds…”
In a manner of speaking, this is the festival in a nutshell: the bringing together of worlds to create a magical reality where ideas and idealism can form and grow, where the unexpected and the surreal are always just around the next corner. “The idea has always been to craft a sort of social design,” Constantinos explains. “For two days, we’re creating our ideal community – a place where almost anything can happen and the world truly can be changed. Both Martha Georgiou” – Constantinos’ co-founder – “and I are travellers, experiencers. We’ve seen a lot of the world, and been fortunate enough to attend – and even organise – a number of festivals in other countries, and with the AfroBanana Republic, we’re bringing these experiences to others like us, to our tribe.”
Which could include anyone, he continues, of any age and background. “The festival is famous for its inclusivity: families during the day, people in their fifties and sixties, those in their thirties who bring their parents along. And then there’s the multicultural aspect,” he adds. “People come from abroad just for the weekend, from Greece, Israel, from Finland… We have really huge names playing at the festival, and that encourages a lot of people to fly in from around the world.”
With four different music stages scattered throughout the forest, festival-goers are encouraged to lose themselves in varied environments with captivating music from all corners of the world: Afrobeat rhythms, world music, jazz, soul, hip-hop and reggae, funk and post funk, disco, techno and house. This year, the pioneering Heliocentrics will be wowing crowds with classic and raw Afrobeat, arriving to work their magic ‘In the Woods’ with Nigerian legend, Orlando Julius. London based Family Atlantica will be returning to the festival, following their phenomenal performance of two years ago. And Angolan/Portuguese Batida (Pedro Coquenão) is billed as a particular highlight: having performed everywhere from Glastonbury to Eurosonic, this renowned music producer is set to tantalise crowds with Semba, Kuduro, Afro house, electronic dance music, Afrobeat and hip hop.
Electric Jalaba from the UK will present a live set, mixing Gnawa, electronic/experimental dance music, West African, Sahara/desert Blues and psych rock, as will Delta Funktionen (Netherlands), Berlin-based Cassegrain, and the Italian born Dutch-based MA Spaventi. And local talent will include a number of live acts: the Afro Mpanda Banana, an explosive nine-member band fusing African and Latin beats with the euphoric melodies of western jazz funk beats, alongside FUNKASTIC 11, Sandy Brour, Cusack, and Pueblo Franco.
Obviously, the music has always been the mainstay of the festival, but “there’s all sorts of other stuff happening too,” says Constantinos. “We have a wide variety of interactive creative projects, from thrilling theatrics with Paravan Proactions to surprise artistic endeavours with Simone Philippou, live music recording sessions with Louvana records and artistic interventions born out of the ABR IN LAB residency. Then there’s the campsite” – many attendees bring tents and caravans to immerse themselves more fully in this extraordinary experience – “food from some of the island’s best eateries, and cocktails from top mixologists, all of which ensure the experience is truly unforgettable!”
Thus we have a festival that’s not only renowned for its strong participatory ethos, but has also been the catalyst for a burgeoning community characterised by its own rituals, experiences and customs. “In previous years we’ve had over 2,500 people in attendance. This year we’re expecting about the same: it’s the perfect number to keep the community feeling,” Constantinos concludes. “If you’re someone who loves to explore, discover, interact, participate, laugh, dance and experience, then the AfroBanana Republic is the festival for you: a platform for idealists who want to experience and enjoy.”
The AfroBanana Republic Festival
In Kornos Forest on August 19 and 20. For more information, campsite details and tickets, visit www.afrobananarepublic.com. Further details of the festival can be found on the Facebook page ‘AfroBanana Republic’, on Instagram under ‘afrobananarpbc’, and by following the Twitter feed @afrobananarpb
Tickets cost €20 per day or €30 for a two-day pass