If you’re looking for sun and fun for all the family or a festival for you all that’s not weather dependant, then The Matala Beach Music Festival, in Crete needs to be your next port of call.
Most famous for its man-made caves (thought to be created as tombs during the Neolithic Age), Matala has a rich deep history of myths, legends and music. In the 1st and 2nd centuries, the caves were used as tombs which according to legend were frequented by the Roman general Brutus. These caves later became cheap camping digs for ”hippies” in the 1960’s and 70’s. Amongst the young, free cave dwellers was the famous Canadian folk singer Joni Mitchell, who’s song ‘Carey’ from the album Blue was all about her time in this Grecian fishing village.
Matala is steeped in market stalls and coffee shops, that are open all year around and up their game just for the festival. A must see is the Mermaid Cafe which was Mitchell’s favourite hang out spot and where she met the infamous red headed chef, Carey.
Held every year at the end of June (this year from the 22nd-24th), the Matala Festival is fully family friendly with activities and stalls to suit all ages.
Despite being a port town, Matala’s main source of income is tourism so, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to accomodation; from hotels and B&Bs to going festival ferel and camping on the beach! If booking a hotel for the festival make sure to do so well in advanced as this is their peak period with tourists flooding in from all around the world to experience the festivities.
The beach is very organised with a whole host of umbrella and sun loungers for you to rent, although we recommend getting there early during festival season to bag your spot or make sure to take some form of umbrella/sun retreat. Early arrival is also a must if you plan on camping.
Behold the smug faces as we welcomed our first guest (Elizabeth) to our (not so humble) beach abode, fully loaded with snacks and supplies all disco nap ready and before midday!
Situated on the southern coast line of Crete the main event is held on Matala beach which is a large, wide sandy beach with perfectly clear waters, good to swim in practically all year ’round. However, it’s also well worth exploring the sea front beyond this area, once you are all festivalled out.
Matala Bay is relatively sheltered, but it is affected by south and westerly winds and being on the south of the island is extremely hot, so make sure to have packed your factor 50 by the bucket load.
Entertainment & Night Life
From hair wrapping, to floral crown crafting and face painting there are plenty of interactive activities in and around the main beach and market area, with lots of small fringe stages playing various types of music from traditional Greek to American folk and English rock. Although, be pre-warned and ticket prices reflect this; don’t expect UK head-liners, good quality music of all genres: yes, brilliant tribute bands and Greek-famous artists: totally and well worth your euros!
With the main beach stage coming alive at night, backed by the cave, carved cliffs and literally water side it’s an absolute sight to see and despite the large crowd it draws with the odd mosher here and there (would it even be a festival without an overly eager head banger!?), in true Greek spirit for the most part everyone was really welcoming and polite. Our ‘must do’ recommendation for cooling off: a midnight, moon lite paddle!
When it comes to food and drink one of the best bits about the festival is that it is in Greece where all bars, tavernas and restaurants will happily welcome and accommodate large groups and families without so much as a blink of an eye or scrunched up nose. We went with a group of 8+ adults and 2 kids under the age of 10 and managed to find tables at various water front restaurants without having to book in advance.
And let’s face it, what more could you really want, family, friends, food, sun, sea, sand and song all wrapped up in a nightly view to die for over and over again.
What’s your favourite family friendly music festival? We’d love to know comment and share your stories below…