Big Day Out is dead – long live Raggamuffin! This weekend's [Friday 27 & Saturday 28 January] funk festival will be the event's fifth birthday, and promoters are promising the biggest act line-up yet. The Rotorua-based two-dayer will feature internationally renowned Jamaican reggae and dub artists Sly and Robbie, as well as headliners Arrested Development and Hawaiian-based Pacific reggae artist J Boog.
Raggamuffin's New Zealand director, Jackie Sanders, said there would be twice as many acts as at last year's festival and an extra stage had been added. It will be bigger than the Australian leg, in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
"We decided that the way the economy is going we'd throw a bit more at the New Zealand festival this time, and that decision seems to be working," Sanders said. We definitely get roots and reggae a lot more than the Aussies. It's a lot more popular over here.
"It's a very, very Kiwi festival, even though we have international reggae acts and reggae's not Kiwi originally. It's something about the festival and the vibe of it which has a very unique feel."
Sanders says it's sad but understandable the Big Day Out had to make the decision not to return to New Zealand shores. Organisers have said Friday's concert, at Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium, will be the last here.
"But another festival will come and replace the Big Day Out. I know that [Raggamuffin] has our niche, and with doing it well we're evolving. "I think if we just kind of stick to that formula we'll be fine."
Sanders says the atmosphere at Raggamuffin sets it apart from other festivals.
"It's a very chilled out and happy crowd. They're not going crazy drinking. We probably have that more family atmosphere. "I wouldn't call it a family festival, but families do come and that does change the tone of the event a little bit."
Raggamuffin begins on Friday at 5pm, with a concert featuring Katchafire and Arrested Development, and a night market. The Saturday leg begins at 10am. Other superstar acts include Billy Ocean and Ali Campbell's UB40.
Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.
For more information visit www.raggamuffin.co.nz