SXM Festival 2017: three times more festival-goers than in 2016


How many passes were sold? And of those passes, how many were to residents of the island? What is the difference compared to the 2016 figures?

Abdou El Ouali: We recorded 3593 international 5-Day passes (General and VIP sales, Guests, Staff & Artists). The island therefore hosted nearly 3600 people from over 60 countries. As for residents, it is hard to find an exact number, because Caribbean resident passes were also sold to residents of the surrounding islands. We recorded 849 5-Day Caribbean resident passes (General and VIP sales, Guests, Staff & Artists). Or a total of 4442 5-day passes. The majority of participants were guests. We did not hesitate to invite friends, people from the music industry, and artists in order to encourage as many people as possible to come and participate, as well as to promote the festival when they return home. We are still a young festival in a highly competitive environment, but we want to corner a large part of the festival audience very quickly. Given the results, our strategy was the right one.

Moreover, we registered 4572 unique admissions (daily access for one location), again including both sales and invitations. We can therefore say that around 6000 people came to participate in the festival, whether for all 5 days or just for one event. We will soon be analyzing the data in order to separate sales from free admissions. We are nonetheless thrilled by the initial results: we tripled the number of festival-goers compared to 2016! Thanks to our 24/7 schedule spread out over several locations, the participants were well-distributed between the different festival sites.

How would you rate the event’s local economic benefits?

Abdou El Ouali: Around €12 million.

What were the most successful events?

Abdou El Ouali: We expanded the music styles this year compared to 2016, and we plan to continue opening up more and more in the future. It is hard to choose one event in particular, since success also depends on individual musical tastes.

Julian Arbia: We talked a lot about the Blond:ish set at the villa party, Refuge with the Romanians RPR, as well as the debut of the Annual Pirate Ball from the music label Dailycid and the set of the South African legend Black Coffee in Happy Bay. We talk just as much about the island’s beauty and riches as we do about the details of producing the festival!

Abdou El Ouali: Overall, we think that the festival was a great success, with of course an enormous benefit for Happy Bay. We are placed among the best festivals in the world. We are astonished by the international media praise. We have been cited as an example to follow for developing the world of electronic music festivals: Wow! People in general and the media, in particular, have understood that we were a team of very experienced professionals.

The places that attracted the most people?

Abdou El Ouali: Happy Bay and the Refuge were a hit every day.

What are you particularly satisfied with?

Julian Arbia: The local participation! Last year, we were just a small team of five, and we were so overwhelmed with work and preoccupied with the task of attracting international participants that we didn’t have time to promote the event on the island. After the 2016 edition ended, we made a local communication plan that worked very well. We also worked with cultural associations and collaborated with hundreds of local people and local service providers. On Sunday for the closing party, there were many familiar faces present and despite the novelty effect for this type of event on the island, everyone seemed to have been participating forever.

Abdou El Ouali: We are thrilled by the local collaboration and the enthusiasm of Saint-Martin residents. The island has now definitively adopted the SXM Festival. It is now OUR festival for all: an event that we can all be proud of!

What would you like to improve next year?

Julian Arbia: We are going to work on the formula over seven days, try to limit crowd movement and space out the events to give people a chance to rest and visit the island more! There will be even more visitors in 2018, and we would like to take this opportunity to mention what will not change:

  • The positive attitude of the gendarmerie: their work was impeccable and respectful.
  • The store and restaurant owners should be applauded for their professionalism and excellent service.
  • And, of course, the Saint-Martin residents that did not go unnoticed with their smiles and good humor. We have heard only good things from the festival-goers! Bravo Saint-Martin!

Abdou El Ouali: Also, at the technical and artistic levels as well as the musical level, you can expect that we will break through another sound barrier in 2018!


Photo credits: SXM Festival

Fanny Fontan