Loulé’s MED Festival, one of the borough’s biggest cultural events, was the main focus of its participation at the BTL tourism fair held in Lisbon between March 1 and 5.
MED has cemented its place as Loulé’s biggest summer music festival, attracting hundreds of musicians and artists every year to the town’s historic centre.
This year, the festival will take place between June 29 and July 2, with organisers promising “90 hours of music, 66 concerts, 400 musicians, 18 nationalities, 12 stages, 100 craftspeople, four art exhibitions and eight street entertainment groups”.
Loulé’s stand at BTL was used to promote the event and announce the first 17 confirmed artists who will perform at this year’s edition.
The line-up so far includes: Amadou&Mariam (Mali), Amaro Freitas (Brazil), AYWA (Morocco/France), BandaAdriatica (Italy), Bandua (Portugal), Bateu Matou (Portugal), Bia Ferreira (Brazil), Bulimundo (Cape Verde), Club Makumba (Portugal), Horace Andy (Jamaica), Lavoisier (Portugal), Omar Souleyman (Syria), Onipa (Ghana/UK), Sara Correia (Portugal), Sarah McCoy (USA), Sétima Legião (Portugal) and Pedro Mafama (Portugal).
Loulé Council says one of the highlights will be the performance by Horace Andy, a reggae icon who has already performed in Loulé in 2019 and is promising a “wave of good vibrations” for his return.
Mali’s Amadou & Mariam is also highlighted by the council. The duo will make their return to the festival after having performed in Loulé for the first time in 2008, having since achieved a global following thanks to their combination of Western African and R&B influences.
Aside from music, there will be the usual film screenings, poetry readings, theatre performance, street entertainment, art exhibitions, conferences and street food, while environmental sustainability will remain a key theme.
As organisers stress, the MED Festival is once again nominated for the Iberian Festival Awards in the categories of Best Medium-Sized Festival, Best Lusophone and Hispanic Festival, Best Tourism Promotion, Best International Performance, Contribution to Sustainability and Best Photo.
The festival has amassed 50 nominations over the years and was named the Best Medium Sized Festival in the Iberian Peninsula in 2017 and 2018, having also won awards for Best Tourist Promotion in Portugal in 2018 and 2020, Contribution for Sustainability in 2019 and Best Lusophone and Hispanic Festival in 2020.
Carlos Carmo, the festival’s director, has stressed MED’s touristic impact, with over 40% of its visitors being tourists. Furthermore, 39% say they chose to travel to the Algarve and to Loulé specifically because of the festival.
“Apart from the music, what motivates visitors the most is the experience that MED offers,” Carmo said.