If you’re looking for a weekend plan, this could be it. Lamu Art Festival 2017 takes place from the 17th – 19th February 2017. Artists from Kenya and other countries gather in this beautiful place to create art and experiences. Not that we need much convincing to visit beautiful historical Lamu but if you’re looking for the right time to do it, then this weekend will offer a truly wonderful experience. We asked Rachael Feiler owner of Diamond Beach Hotel and head of music for Lamu Art Festival to tell us more.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your connection to Lamu and the festival?
RF: I am originally from Cornwall in the UK and I have been in Lamu for 16 years running a small eco lodge on the beach. I moved here when I was 21 and never left. I have always loved music and my family are all artists. I was asked last year to organize the music side of the festival, and of course jumped at the chance. The festival is in its 2nd year and we are already getting super excited about plans for 2018. The artists, the music, the conceptual works going on at the moment are really exciting.
What exactly is Lamu Art Festival?
RF: It is a bringing together of music and art lovers from all over the world to be inspired by our beautiful islands and create work and have the chance to exhibit and perform in a unique setting. For visitors, it gives Lamu the edge, something to bring people together and have a great weekend.
Could you tell us some highlights in this year’s edition? Maybe some examples of artists participating in the exhibition?
RF: We Are Visual are a conceptual duo from Germany and have been on the island for over 6 weeks making their instillation for the festival. Even I have no idea what they have made but from what I understand about their projects it is going to be big and bold. It will be revealed in the Lamu Fort for the exhibition opening on Friday 16th.
Tell us more about this year’s theme, Drugs addiction Awareness and Rehabilitation, what is the idea behind this theme?
RF: Music and Art are race-less, classless, ageless, without political agenda and so is drug addiction. Everyone loves music and almost everyone knows someone affected by drug or alcohol addiction. Lamu has a worryingly growing problem with drug use and it affects the whole island. If we can build a relationship with the addicts we hope to encourage them to see a positive future and this is helped by an African herb called Iboga which helps addicts come off their vice.
The sailing concert sounds fascinating. What is that exactly?
RF: The traditional Sunset Sailing happens every evening and is a wonderful experience. We wanted to liven it up and hold a concert on a dhow, it brings together dhows from Lamu and Shela, with three dhow having a band on board and the other dhows following with tourists. During the sail the three bands will jam and be a live concert.
What kind of crowd does the festival normally attract?
RF: A great mix of art and music lovers: Lamu locals, Kenyan’s and international visitors who all love Lamu for being such a unique island and who want to be part of the islands growing festivities.
How does one get to Lamu?
RF: There are five daily flights from Nairobi, an early morning flight from JKIA will get you here for lunch or if you can take a few hours out of the office and get to Wilson for 2 pm you will be here for the sunset sail. Get picked up by boat from Manda airport and your holiday begins.
Where should one stay?
RF: In Lamu town there are some great houses, old traditional Swahili style buildings. Subira house directly behind the Fort is a favorite and totally eco. Amu House is also a great budget Swahili guest house and you area always looked after and welcomed. Lamu House for the ones with more in the pocket. We recommend a few days in Lamu and then head to Shela village for a couple of nights, Bembea House or Fishermans house are our favorites and if you have more time don’t miss Diamond Beach Village in Manda, restaurant and bar and banda accommodation with the best pizza’s in Kenya according to the Nation.
How should one prepare for the two days? What to expect, what to bring, what to remember?
RF: Bring a hat and cream and a fun attitude. Be open-minded and don’t get stuck in your beautiful accommodation. Get out and enjoy the music in the square, the art and get involved with the dhow race and sunset sail. Its going to be a weekend to remember. We have Audi Sans Frontier donating the sound system for the weekend so the quality of the music is going to be amazing.
What is the best thing about working with this festival?
RF: Meeting amazing people from all over the world who all have the same love for Kenya, Lamu, Art and Music and in the end world peace.
The two questions we ask everyone we interview: Why do you love doing what you do? And what do you wish people knew about Kenya?
RF: The freedom and constantly being in awe of how creative people have so much passion. Problem-solving on an island can be fun and you have to be imaginative! I would like people to know that Kenya is a safe and thriving country and the people are so humble and welcoming. As the world gets more crazy a place like Lamu feels more safe than anywhere in the world. Don’t believe the politicians and policy makers, make your own mind up and see for yourself. You will not be disappointed.