Earth Garden, now in its 6th edition, is this weekend (31 May – 2 June). For those not familiar with it, we’ll call it Malta’s version of WOMAD meets Glastonbury Festival backed by an environmental message. After a sabbatical break last year, the festival is back with some innovative additions, and stronger and bigger than ever. “Earth Garden missed the yearly appointment last year due to lack of funding, giving us, the organisers, time to enhance further the production and come up with new ideas, keeping the festival unique and avant-garde. We preferred to keep back for a year and make sure our next edition would be bigger and better”, says Howard Keith, one of the organisers.
A wise move, we say, as above all, Earth Garden is about great music and giving a platform to an eclectic range of performers with an emphasis on showcasing local talent and alternative music that generally gets less exposure. “We’ve really invested in making sure we’ve a great sound system. That’s a priority for us. Earth Garden provides an important space for artists and we’re conscious that we need to support them well,” says Reuben Spiteri, one of the founders of Earth Garden.
When Earth Garden kicked off seven years back, no one, least of all the trio of founders – Reuben along with the late Desmond Vella, and Peter Paul of Tribali – imagined it would become a household name, a well established event on the local scene.
The set up of Earth Garden has evolved in this time, as Reuben explains:”Our first event focused on the ticket-only gigs at the Greek Theatre. But we soon realised that to encourage greater numbers, get the environmental message to a wider audience, and to appeal to families and all ages, we needed to expand the Open Village. This area is now the heart of the event really. People stay for a couple of hours or all afternoon into the evening. It has a relaxed, friendly vibe and gives the event its unique place in the local events calendar.”
This year (2013), there is a minimal charge to enter the Open Village (Euro 5 for the three days), including entrance on Friday evening (a new addition to the festival). The Open Village includes The Roots Stage, The Electronic Sphere, Camping Area, The Remissa Chill-out Corner, the Why Not? Jamming Area, The Arts Area, Ethnic Market and the Kids’ Area. The Roots Stage kicks off with The Juuls Reggae opening party – which will also featuring live bands. In all, there are over 10 bands performing on this stage, the highest number of bands since the introduction of this new area.
Over at The Greek Theatre each night is a main-stage act (pre-booked tickets at Euro 15 per night, which includes Open Village entrance). This year sees Friday present “Pink Floyd – The Wall Show” brought to us by The Malta Rock Movement. The people behind MRM are Peter Borg from Red Electrick, Ira Losco, Wayne Camilleri from KOI, Big Band Brothers, some members of Xirka Rock and Gianni Zammit of Jugs Malta. Saturday’s slot sees Earth Garden regulars Tribali, who need no introduction! While Sunday closes the Earth Garden with Yada in a dance extravaganza entitled ‘Summer of Love’.
Each year has been anchored by an environmental theme. This year, it’s air quality, under the EU’s slogan ‘Every breath we take’. If you live in some parts of Malta that are blighted, you’ll appreciate the focus on air quality (St Anne’s St, Floriana and Fgura are black spots literally, when it comes to air quality).
The festival gives space to NGOs and bodies to set up information stands. “The bottom line is that Earth Garden is about responsibility – people having a good time coupled with care and respect for each other and our planet. For instance, our campers have been meticulous each year at leaving the site immaculately clean,” says Reuben.
With more and more people heading to Earth Garden each year, it seems to be getting that message across. Go support it and have a great time this weekend.
Further info, tickets & links
Greek Theatre acts: Tickets available here.
Ticket outlets (high streets): see list in footer of Earth Garden website.
Photo: Allen Venables