Unity Shines Through At City Splash Festival 2024

Revellers brave the conditions to party joyously...

City Splash 2024 showcased an urban cultural extravaganza that surpassed all expectations, offering an unforgettable experience despite the challenging weather. Set in Brockwell Park, Herne Hill, the festival’s vibrant celebration of Caribbean culture infused London’s landscape with energy and excitement, creating an indelible mark despite the muddy conditions.

The park, usually a beautiful green space, became a slippery obstacle course due to the heavy rain. While not as bad as Glastonbury’s worst years, the challenging conditions made it tough for attendees. Some people persevered through the slippery terrain, but many decided to call it a day and head home early.

Despite the lower-than-expected attendance at the festival, the dedicated crowd fully embraced the event’s spirit as the epitome of cultural celebration. Armed only with bin bags for protection, the attendees made the most of the weekend, turning it into a highlight of their summer, focusing on the Caribbean’s rich cultural impact on the UK and celebrated genres like roots, dub, dancehall, and jungle.

One of the most memorable acts was Queen Omega, also known as Jenelle Osborne. The reggae sensation from Trinidad captivated the Pull Up stage with her vibrant wardrobe and stunningly tall white heels, exuding an electrifying stage presence. Despite the weather, her magnetic energy drew in huge crowds.

A standout performance on the Pull Up stage was delivered by Jamaican DJ Anthony B. His energetic set, including hits like ‘Run for Cover,’ ‘Warriors,’ and ‘Freedom Fighters,’ showcased him doing the running man in a sharp white ensemble, much to the excitement of his fans.

Busy Signal, a prominent figure in the dancehall genre ever since his breakthrough hit ‘Step Out’ in 2005, attracted a large crowd of dedicated fans despite the rain. With an electrifying setlist featuring crowd favourites like ‘Happy Birthday,’ ‘Bedroom Bully,’ and ‘One More Night,’ the audience was so enthusiastic that even the trash cans turned into impromptu dance stages. Their unwavering passion proved that nothing could diminish their excitement.

During Shenseea’s performance at the City Splash festival, a quintessentially British moment unfolded when she invited a fan from the crowd to freestyle on stage. Despite facing a chorus of boos from the audience, the brave volunteer showcased the high expectations and passionate engagement of City Splash attendees.

The captivating performance by the British group WSTRN was met with an enthusiastic response from the crowd, as they showcased a dynamic mix of their well-known hits like ‘Ben Ova’ and ‘Come Down,’ alongside vibrant dancehall classics such as Vybz Kartel’s ‘Ramping Shop.’ This lively reaction from the audience highlighted the festival’s deep connection to dancehall culture.

Remember this: Capleton, the ‘King of Fire,’ made his first UK appearance in over thirteen years. His arrival in a shiny bronze outfit seemed to banish the grey skies, igniting the crowd with messages of empowerment and unity. Performances of classics like ‘Raggy Road’ and ‘Jah Jah City’ resonated deeply, with many taking to social media to declare Capleton their festival highlight.

As the festival concluded and participants went through the muddy park, the atmosphere exuded joy despite the wet conditions. The crowd’s resilience, enthusiasm, and outstanding performances guaranteed that City Splash 2024 was an unforgettable tribute to Caribbean culture in the heart of London.

While the music may fade, Brockwell Park will forever carry the enduring spirit and community-centred values of City Splash. Those who braved the rain will hold onto the memories of this year’s festival, which, despite its obstacles, reaffirmed City Splash as a symbol of cultural jubilation and communal strength.

Words: Emmanuel Onapa
Photography: Luke Dyson, Twiggles, @nanaking

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