Essential Guide to BPM Festival

Picture beaches, bars and clubs along the shores of the Mayan Riviera while partiers are enjoying drinks and dancing alongside some of the biggest names in electronic music. This is BPM Festival.  

Launched in 2007, BPM Festival is a pinnacle event for anyone wanting a taste of the underground that you can’t often find on the main stage of a brand name festival. Drawing close to 60,000 revelers a year, BPM is still able to maintain an intimate setting – whether at one of its club nights or infamous pool, beach or boat parties. Hell, last year they even hosted a rave…in a cave.

Since the festival takes place in the dead of winter, who wouldn’t jump at the idea of dancing in the sun on a beach in the middle of January? If the thought of ditching the parkas for a bikini doesn’t sell you then the lineup should be the nail in the tequila-soaked coffin.


Underground and mainstream performances 

The performers that BPM Festival announces every year are always vast and the organizers have struck the perfect balance between keeping one foot in the underground while still offering enough mainstream acts to appeal to the masses. The lineup offers a wide array of artists and genres that will have you raving from sunset to sunrise.

While legends of the scene such as Pete Tong, Loco Dice, Mark Knight, Steve Lawler, Luciano, Danny Tenaglia, Fedde Le Grand, Richie Hawtin, John Digweed and Claud Von Stroke have known to headline some of the main events, attendees also have the chance to catch lesser-known rising stars such as Hot Since 82, Green Velvet, Infinity Ink, Eats Everything, and Pleasurekraft.

The events are spread across the city of Playa Del Carmen. Located about 70km south of Cancun where the closest international airport is situated, Playa is easily accessible via taxi, shuttle bus or a private car rental and takes less than an hour. Playa del Carmen is unlike any other tropical destination.

The city has become the largest in the Quinta-Roo province of Mexico, and while its growth may be rapid, the city has managed to maintain a level of chicness that attracts crowds from all over the world. Boutique shops, restaurants, and hotels line the cobblestone streets where you can also find local vendors selling handcrafted goods.

You can be bargaining over fake Cuban cigars one minute and the next you can be splurging at Dior or Louis Vuitton at the shopping center. 

It may sound cliché to say that the best Mexican meal I had was in Playa Del Carmen, but so what? You haven’t actually had guacamole until a Mayan makes it right in front of you while enjoying an actual mariachi band through a margarita haze. Corny? Yes. Best meal of my life? One hundred percent.

Club events for day and night 

While some attendees may not be interested in splurging at one of the amazing shops or restaurants (once you have authentic fajitas and guac, you’re good for the rest of the week, right?) then the clubs are where you should splurge since it’s the parties that BPM is really all about. 

There are a few main clubs where BPM hosts both its day and night parties with the evening events starting around 10pm. These are Coco Maya, Blue Parrot, Kool Beach and Canibal Royal. The first two venues share a street corner and the combined capacities often reach into the thousands. If that isn’t enough for you, the energy in the streets is reminiscent of a block party so waiting to get into the club is a party in itself. 

This is the shit the two guys from A Night at the Roxbury dreamt about, minus the hideous suits and bad hair. The added bonus is that all of these venues are oceanfront beach clubs. Meaning, take a club, add some sand, and the ocean, and what you get is some of the most unreal locations to host an electronic music festival. DJ booths with ocean views are presumably at the top of each DJs fantasy list, and as a partygoer, you haven’t really raved until you’ve done it drunk off tequila while barefoot on a Mexican beach. 

Looking for a change of scenery in case you’re one of the ridiculous people who can tire quickly of oceanfront views and beachfront clubs? BPM Festival hosts numerous boat cruises throughout the week where you can rave to the sounds of techno and house music amongst a smaller crowd of people.

Traveling done easy 

If you’re anything like myself, by the time you decide to go, organize your friends and start planning the trip. Actually booking flights and hotels is like trying to add that one extra bikini into your already over packed suitcase. Thankfully, the organizers at BPM have thought of everything. They have teamed up with Orbitz, one of the biggest travel agencies, to make your flight, hotel and wristband purchase as easy as possible.

Through the BPM Festival homepage you are able to book everything in just a few easy transactions, allowing time to focus your energy on getting that base tan, resting your liver and preparing yourself for one of the most unreal party vacations you will ever go on. If you’re looking for a five star all-inclusive hotel right in the heart of the party, the BPM Travel Portal has you covered. And if you’re instead seeking a two star on the outskirts of town, they’ll hook you up with that as well.  

After finding a hotel and booking your flight the last thing you need to do is buy your ticket to the actual party. The wristband guarantees entrance to any and all events that are part of BPM with the ability to go from one event to another (maximum seven events each day). If the event is sold out to the general public, wristband holders are guaranteed entrance including line bypass. Ticket holders also get first choice of VIP booths, tables and cabanas at all events as well as discounts at over 125 stores, tourist attractions and restaurants.

Sadly, because of how popular the festival truly is, tickets always sell out fast. Ten-day tickets can go for $750, seven-day tickets $550, and three-day tickets for either opening or closing weekend can be purchased for $250. All prices are before applicable service fees but can you really put a price on enjoying music in the sun, on a beach, with your friends, while everyone else freezes their butts off in the middle of January? Not really.

Olivia Weir