The Reggae Geel festival was founded way back in 1978 when a few friends had the idea to organize a reggae party in open air. Not that they had a big plan: a small disco bar and some fresh drinks should do the trick. At that time nothing more than an impulsive idea, it rapidly grew into a small success as people easily found their way to the event.
It took them 3 years to take a first important decision: inviting a live band! People got into the unique vibe more and more and started coming in bigger numbers each year. More live bands were added to the bill and first steps were to taken to invite artists straight from Kingston, Jamaica. The press didn’t really understand what was happening in those woods but, nevertheless, did an effort to report the event in the papers. In 5 year time Reggae Geel saw it’s public grow to over 10 times its initial attendance. Since 1990 the promoters started programming a line-up of national and international bands.
In 1993 the Reggae Geel crew went even further: multiple acts were programmed with 1 big Jamaican name as top-of-the-bill on a new and bigger Mainstage. They also added an extra stage and gave space for improvisation, DJ talent and poetry. It was the promoter’s aim to bring a cultural profile of what the island of Jamaica stands for.
In 1995 a next important step was taken: the introduction of our Bounce Dancehall. At that time nobody could predict the importance of our Bounce Dancehall on the development of popular Jamaican music in Belgium. It would turn out to be the place to introduce national and international sounds to the Belgian audience. The crowd reacted wild and Reggae Geel, at that time a 1-day festival, was reaching its limits. The year after, in 1996, we decided to add an extra day. Friday would be centered round our Dancehall, on Saturday we would offer the best reggae bands on our Mainstage.
Of course Reggae Geel always focused on its love for music, but by also programming Jamaican movies, circus, art, poetry and introducing a Jamaican Reggae Market every visitor found that extra he didn’t even know it existed. The response was massive and by thousands people from all over the country made the journey to Geel in the first weekend in August. In 2005 we decided it was time to open a 3rd stage, dedicated to dub music: the 18” Corner was born. Massive speakers and amplifiers in between the trees in the forest: till today the place where you hear the true heartbeat of the Reggae Geel festival.
Reggae Geel supports fresh new talent
It is part of the Reggae Geel philosophy to promote young, unknown talent. That’s why Reggae Geel started their Catch-A-Mic contest in 2007, where young and talented reggae and dancehall artist had a chance to conquer our audience with their beats and lyrics. The competition turned out to be a great success.
In 2008 the Skaville Circus was born, a stage dedicated to the roots of reggae music: ska and rocksteady. The Skaville Circus also became the place where, during daytime, we could introduce a stage for poetry and where the audience could meet some of our artists whilst they’ re being interviewed. The Skaville Circus, although around for only a few years, proved to be equally successful as our other stages that we decided to add an extra day from this year onwards.
Reggae Geel will continue to invest and experiment. As promoter of the Benelux Reggae Contest we continue to dig for young and unknown talent. Reggae Geel hopes to embrace more uplifting actions in the future. It is our clear wish to import as much positive vibrations as possible from Jamaica to the city of Geel.
- Good Vibes, Love and Harmony. Come Catch A Vibe , at Reggae Geel!