Africa Oyé broke its attendance records over the weekend with an incredible anniversary festival that brought over 80,000 people to the beautiful surroundings of Sefton Park in Liverpool.
The ever-diverse Oyé crowd flocked from across the country and beyond to witness performances from some of the finest returning artists the festival has welcomed over its 25-year history as well as specially invited guest and Sunday headliner, Max Romeo.
The UK’s largest free celebration of African and Caribbean music showcased international artists from 12 countries onto its main stage in addition to a range of local acts across the field hosting workshops, DJ sets and dance battles.
The likes of Mokoomba, Jupiter & Okwess International and Odemba OK Allstars were supported by local acts Nutribe & Butcha B and Anwar Ali & Dave Owen, making the anniversary line-up not only a look to Oyé’s past but a nod to the future as well.
Artistic Director, Paul Duhaney, who brought out his entire festival team onto the stage for an emotional closing speech, said “We couldn’t have asked for a better weekend for our 25th anniversary. The acts, the weather and an incredible audience – I don’t think we’ve had a festival quite like it across both days.”
“We’re blessed in Liverpool that our founder Kenny Murray chose here to live and bring Oyé to life after traveling across Africa and being inspired by the music and culture of the continent.
And Oyé is blessed that a city like Liverpool exists – a city where a festival showcasing artists that a lot of the audience will be hearing for the first time, yet embraces them like old friends. The people have turned our little festival into something really quite special.”
The Oyé Village was busier than ever in 2017 with more traders and stalls, two bar and DJ areas in the shape of Trenchtown and the brand new Freetown, as well as the Afrobeats Zone which continues to grow in popularity with the younger festival-goers.
The range of free dance and music workshops in the Active Zone, hosted by Liverpool’s own Movema, and the returning fun fair meant there really was something for everyone to enjoy.
Staying true to its pledge to make Oyé ‘free and open to all’, organisers also improved the access facilities for this year, with an Accessible Viewing Platform on-site for wheelchair users and the returning Sign Language interpreters on-stage.
“I’d like to say a huge thank you to Arts Council England, Liverpool City Council and all our other supporters, sponsors and partners” Duhaney continued. “Their generosity and belief in what we do allows us to put on the best festival possible and carry on our work throughout the year with our school workshops and tours.
And to everyone who donated money in our collection buckets or bought some Oyé merchandise this weekend, or just helped spread the word about what we do – I can’t thank you all enough. Here’s to another 25 years.”