Summer in the Northern Hemisphere is a smorgasbord of beach-side music festivals that celebrate all the simple glories sunlight, cocktails and rhythmic beats provide. But as Ibiza heads into its cooler, quieter off-season, a Southeast Asian spectacle is rapidly assuming its place as the party capital for electronic music lovers.
EPIZODE is an 11-day festival that takes place on the island of Phu Quoc, off the coast of Vietnam’s mainland, spanning a 24-hour cycle of live music, wellness activities and multicultural cuisine to transcend geographical and cultural barriers between East and West over the New Year period.
Boasting a diverse audience of over 10,000 attendees from 79 countries in its earlier editions, the fourth year of the festival will run from December 27 to January 7, championing its focus on bringing people across the globe together on a larger, unprecedented scale.
On the tropical shores of Sunset Sanato Beach, the festival evokes the wellness elements of Coachella, decorates the island with art installations that rival Burning Man, and electronic music that spins on par with Ibiza’s rowdiest beach clubs.
Festival director Natasha Rogal explains to 9Honey the key point of difference is the “opportunity to get acquainted with something new through so many attendees, representing a different country or culture at any point in the 24-hour, 11-day festival.”
For those looking to set their sights on 2020’s eye-opening festival, here are the key ways EPIZODE is diversifying the music festival scene.
Understanding that 11-days of a festival can challenge even the toughest-soled party-goer, the festival offers a diverse range of ticketing options, to tailor each attendee’s experience.
“Different cultures mean different obligations,” she says, adding: “it’s important for Europeans to spend Christmas with their families, for Russians New Year’s celebrations are essential, the Asian part of the audience has different priorities at this time of year – so we made tickets available accordingly.”
Tickets range from full 11-day passes, to three-day and one-day packages. EPIZODE is also astonishingly affordable compared to other international music festivals, with an average daily cost ranging between 24-59 euros (around AU$40-96), depending on the package.
There’d be consistent days and nights of dancing without an 140-act strong line-up. EPIZODE’s collection of artists encompasses local Vietnamese DJs, for visitors to familiarise themselves with, to well-established International names like headliners Craig Richards, Ricardo Villalobos and Lilly Palmer – all regulars on party playlists.
“It is important for us that the artists whom we invite resonate with the audience,” Rogal says of the selection process, adding: “At the same time, the festival has a certain social function to give the opportunity for young artists to perform.”
The line-up was curated over the period of a year, with organisers scouting acts from electronic events across the globe, ranging from drum and bass to trance and deep house.
Twenty-four hour party cycles aren’t for everyone, but recovery options do exist for those in need of a break from the neon-nightlife.
“We want to give our guests the opportunity to listen to their favourite DJs at night and then recover during the day,” Rogal says, highlighting activities like daily yoga classes from sunrise to sunset, and a separate ‘spiritual zone’ where guests are invited to meditate with masters from around the world.
Local and international artists will ornament the island with vibrant installations, providing opportunities for photographers – professional or the social media variety – to fill their feeds and photo albums with colossal works of art that illuminate at sunset.
And for those seeking to explore the culinary delights of Southeast Asia, the food court area has been doubled in size to accompany the spice and taste needs of hungry guests.
A stand-out initiative in EPIZODE’s fourth year of operation is its commitment to being eco-friendly.
Guests can participate in the preservation of Phu Quoc’s ecological situation in numerous ways – for a start, all ticket-holders are provided re-useable tableware and water bottles, as well as pocket ashtrays and plastic-free materials. Festival-goers can also participate in clean-ups during the festival, knowing their garbage will be properly treated.
“We are negotiating with partners who will allow us to separately collect garbage and track its future fate.”
EPIZODE Vietnam runs from December 27 to January 7, 2020. For more information and tickets, visit epizode.com.