Photo: @thekayafest on IG (instagram.com/p/Cc0ly8eF8AD/)

Around the time of 420 day, you’ll usually find a South Florida reggae music festival that will introduce you to some of the best reggae music worldwide: Kaya Fest. The festival is more than just a musical event, as it also seeks to raise awareness and educate attendees. 

Jazz in the Gardens 2024
Jazz in the Gardens 2024

Kaya Fest debuted in 2017 and was created by Stephen Marley, son of the legendary Bob Marley, alongside his brother Ziggy Marley. The festival has many missions, one of them being to celebrate Bob Marley’s legacy and promote his message of peace, love, and unity. 

Bob Marley and the Wailers’ album “Kaya” inspired the name of Kaya Fest, and Miami was an obvious choice for the location, given the large Caribbean diaspora in South Florida.

Things to Know About Kaya Fest, One of the Best South Florida Reggae Music Festivals
Marley Brothers (left to right) Stephen, Robbie, and Ziggy in 1997.
Photo Credit: John Mathew Smith & www.celebrity-photos.com, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How Kaya Fest Is Bringing Reggae to a Wider Audience

Reggae has had a significant influence on the global music industry. Though the genre peaked in the 1970s and early 1980s, South Florida reggae music festivals like Kaya Fest are doing their part to continue pushing the genre forward and introducing it to new audiences. 

Kaya Fest not only features Caribbean artists but also South American and Latin artists. The festival welcomes a diverse line-up and sound, while still holding true to its core reggae foundation. 

Though there are a few other similar events, major South Florida reggae music festivals are few and far between. Kaya Fest definitely fills a void in the cultural and musical landscape of South Florida.

What It Means to Be a “Music and Awareness Festival”

Kaya Fest describes itself as a “Music and Awareness Festival,” but what does that really mean? In the words of Stephen Marley himself, “the mission is awareness about cannabis and the many benefits of cannabis, from industrial to medicinal to spiritual.”

Marley laments that, even among those who use the drug recreationally, not enough people know about the positive benefits marijuana can have. He hopes that Kaya Fest can help change that.

Reggae music is intrinsically tied to marijuana, as a genre proliferated by Rastafarians who use it as a religious tool. Bob Marley and his contemporaries sang about the benefits of marijuana despite the Jamaican government’s strict opposition to the drug.

Kaya Fest in 2017, One of the Best South Florida Reggae Music Festivals
The first Kaya Fest in 2017, Photo: @thekayafest on IG

Who You Can Expect to See

Despite being relatively new, Kaya Fest is one of the biggest South Florida reggae music festivals and boasts an impressive line-up of Caribbean, Latin American, and South American stars each year. Past concerts have featured the Marley Brothers (Stephen, Ziggy, Damian, Julian, and Ky-Mani), Sean Paul, Busta Rhymes, Koffee, Pitbull, Davido, Farruko, Chi Chi Ching, Third World, Kes The Band, and more. 

Maybe you’re interested in a festival that combines music and activism, or maybe you just simply love reggae. Either way, even though Kaya Fest isn’t back from post-COVID hiatus just yet, stay tuned for the next April showing in Miami!


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