The sun is slipping away into the sea, sweeping views of a gorgeous Caribbean bay reach out in front of us, lush jungle greenery is all around and world class beats are racing down from Gordo. This is the Panorama Stage at SXM Festival on the island of St Maarten and it has to be one of the world’s most unreal party locations. This dance at the highest point of the island with 360 degree panoramas is just one of the many things that make this festival so unique.

The people are more mature than an average crowd, with people in their 30s all dressed up with boho vibes that bring something of a Burning Man feel to this Caribbean paradise. They are warm, friendly and from all over the world – here not just for dancing and music but for the natural beauty of the place, its rich culture offerings and the gorgeous food and drink from cocktails to sea food to sipping on coconut milk.


The music plays out all over, from beach and boat parties with sun beating down to the reinvigorated Arc Stage. This now has next level light, sounds and 3D mapping which is a feats for the yes as well as the ears and it is the sight of some standout sets from the likes of Marco Carola who drops rolling techno, Mochakk who takes the party to a high level on day one with big tunes like his iconic remix of Rizzla by The Martinez Brothers and Gordo, and Doc Martin whose garage set sets the place on fire.

Afro house is well represented across the festival with none other than genre king Black Coffee pulling out all the stops to showcase the sound in all its glory, and Layla Benitez soundtracking the sunset at the Panorama Stage with some perfect selections. The likes of Gene on Earth, Raresh, SiS, Apollonia, CamelPhat, Sonya Moonear and so many more all add their own unique sets to the soundtrack and the crowds always get locked in, with dressed-up podium dancers adding an extra edge next to the stylish production.

The five days and nights of SXM are all about exploration and include hanging by the pool next to towering palm trees, exploring the local souvenir market, and enjoying the luxurious and high-class VIP Vila Party where people come together and have one of the most iconic experiences of the week from 1-9 pm with gorgeous views. There are plenty of beaches to enjoy such as Maho Beach where you can watch planes land from a very low and short distance or enjoy beach bar life on Mullet beach.

With 5000 amazing festival-goers, in all, there is a friendly and intimate feel to SXM and also has a social consciousness which saw it go paperless this year. LED solar lights are used to save energy and plastic is eliminated throughout. The final full day at SXM Festival is a good day to hang out at Boho Beach which was running throughout the day starting at 6 am for those not ready to stop partying, or just hang out and enjoy the final vibes. The whole festival comes to an epic close at when Dubfire steps up and does his thing, rolling out the beats, serving up some classics and giving everyone plenty to get excited about.

There is nowhere on earth that brings together such a knowledgeable crowd, tasteful production and wondrous location as SXM. It is a whole island that becomes a paradise for the musical high life, with endless adventures, cultural delights and good times to be had. It needs to be at the very top of your festival to-do list.