Does anything feel better than a festival sunset? You’ve spent the day dancing in the sun, drinks are in hand, headliners are soon to take to the stage, and that sweet, sweet golden-hour light is giving everything and everyone a dreamy glow.
If that sounds like bliss to you, you might want to know that there’s actually an entire festival dedicated to that exact beautiful moment. It’s called Corona Sunsets Festival, run by – you guessed it – beer brand Corona. The festival has been celebrating sundown in a handful of balmy places – including Mexico’s Tulum and the Dominican Republic’s Santo Domingo – since 2016.
This year it’s taking off on its first world tour, expanding to over a dozen locations. It’ll travel to some of the globe’s most celebrated outdoor destinations, from the beaches of Goa to the hills of Tuscany, billing the sunset as the ‘ultimate headliner’.
Having found a home in Cape Town for the better part of a decade, the festival is already a landmark event on the Mother City’s cultural calendar. A fitting destination, then, to kick off the tour on April 1. , and the setting, at a country club right on the seafront, is as killer as promised.
As you descend the steps leading to the festival, you’re met with a view of the glittering Atlantic Ocean; look to the left, and you see the undulating Twelve Apostles mountain range; to the right, the craggy peak of Lion’s Head.
The Cape Town edition of Corona Sunsets is on the smaller side, as festivals go – but with multiple zones and two stages spread across the natural slopes of the reserve, there’s plenty of space to breathe, take in your surroundings and explore. The almost endless photo opps include a swing set overlooking the beach and huge, sunbeam-clad archways framing the stage and the sea. The festival hinges on the premise of disconnecting and bringing people closer to nature – which is lovely, if a little incongruous with the queues forming to snap a pic for socials.
Venture a little further, though, and the effort that’s been put into the festival’s experiential elements is evident. Over here, a drop-in cocktail-making session is underway; over there, attendees are joining drum circles, art classes, and carpet-weaving workshops. A laidback village and a little face painting might seem pretty standard for your average day festival, but here crowd engagement is taken several steps further – particularly when it comes to the festival’s eco-themed initiatives.
A dedicated eco-village set up next to the smaller stage features an upcycling station, sustainable fabric dying, a guerrilla gardening zone and pieces from an ‘environmental artist’. Throughout the festival, there isn’t a scrap of rubbish in sight – nor a single piece of plastic. Corona’s sustainability manager, Sasha Croak, tells me that she has taken on the role of the ‘plastic police’ when planning and inspecting vendors at the festival. It’s all very on-brand for Corona, who became in 2021 the first global beverage brand to reach a net-zero plastic footprint,
Each stop on the global tour promises to be curated around the location, and experiencing its Cape Town edition, I’ve no doubt that they’ll achieve that. Every part of this event, from the layout and experiences to the music and food, couldn’t be replicated anywhere else. While American house DJ Louie Vega takes a headline slot, it’s the line-up is mostly South African artists. , from the second stage’s roster of Capetonian DJs to soulful singer Msaki and indie artist Jeremy Loops , that draw the biggest crowds. The only real downer is the ubiquitous corporate branding. (We get it, Corona: you own this thing. But it might be nice to allow the crowd to take in Cape Town’s spectacular scenery without stamping your logo on absolutely everything,
And what about the ‘ultimate headliner’? How, exactly, do you base a headline act on something as unpredictable as a sunset? Well, you just have to hope that luck is on your side. Cape Town has famously temperamental weather: the day after the festival, the city and seafront are engulfed in white sea fog, despite forecasts promising blue skies. But the festival’s sunset moment is as spectacular as promised. As the sky turns orange, drummers and dancers take to the stage, ‘eco fog’-filled bubbles stream over the crowd, and everything – from the mountains to the sea – is bathed in dreamy golden light.
The festival is set to go on to 14 more destinations around the world, including Colombia, Japan, Peru, Italy, Greece – and even, bizarrely, the UK. How they’ll guarantee a gorgeous sunset in one of the world’s rainiest countries remains to be seen, but here’s hoping they’ll pull it off.
Time Out traveled as guests of Corona Sunsets Festival,
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