Baja Beach Festival is coming up fast, and there are still available passes! Sitting oceanfront on 3-acres of beach with a ferris wheel, local food vendors, games, a glam station, and more, it’s a festival to add your annual calendar.
This years headliners include Maluma, Anuel AA, Farruko, Banda MS, Wisin Y Yandel and Daddy Yankee, who is currently on his farewell tour. The festival runs the weekend of August 12-14 and the weekend of August 19-21, and we talked to founders Aaron Ampudia, and Chris Den Ujil, to get the inside scoop about what to expect, how to make the best of your 3 day weekends, after parties, and more.
How important is it to you that a festival like this, with the biggest names in Reggaeton and Latin music exists?
Aaron: I think it’s one of the coolest things cause the Latino community has been underserved in these types of experiences. There was really nothing that they could call their own. In my opinion, I’m Mexican American, I lived in Mexico, and San Diego, and you would have the typical festivals, right? Like the Coachellas the EDCs, but there was nothing that celebrated the culture, the food, the music, obviously all these big headliners that we like to listen to. So it’s super cool and super special to me.
Chris: I think the time when we started this festival, it was a moment in time when the Latin urban, reggaeton, Latin artists in general, that we really book started to really feel momentum beyond their hard ticket touring that they had been working so hard year over year. I think as we launched this, it was this really pivotable moment, especially in the United States. But now fast forward a couple more years, it’s very global that this genre really exploded. And there wasn’t this festival every year that the artists could call their own, as much as the Latinos could call their own from a fan perspective. So I think that Baja beach Fest really checks that box, not just from a fan and from that inclusivity story, but also from the artists. I talk to these guys all the time, and one thing that’s super, super special that not a lot of people get to see because it’s so behind the house, is just the comradery and love that all the teams have for each other and artists have for each other. It’s kind of like the Super Bowl or certain large athlete gatherings where it’s kind of unique. They don’t all get to go to one place at one time very often, so I think there’s just a lot of magic that goes on in the event.
What should festival-goers get most excited about when it comes to this year’s Baja Beach Fest? What makes it different than all the other years.
Aaron: If Baja beach festival-goers have gone to past years, I think the major point of difference is that we’ve really mixed up the talent this year. Three of the six headliners we’ve never had at the festival. One of them is Daddy Yankee, who is in the middle of doing his retirement tour. So I think it’s gonna be a pretty special moment for his fans as this is the only festival that he’s playing.
Chris: As far as the experience goes, we’re always trying to elevate the experience. So there’s a bigger Ferris wheel, and there are now helicopter rides. There are more photo ops and more food vendors.
What’s your advice for festival-goers to make the most of their three days?
Aaron: If you can stay in Rosarito, I think the experience is way better in one of the hotels, whether it’s the Rosarito Inn, Festival Plaza, or Rosarito Beach Hotel. Just because you get to park your car, forget about that, any type of transportation. Everything is within walking distance, from a five-minute walk to maybe an eight-minute walk from the furthest hotel, and you get to enjoy all the restaurants around, you get to enjoy the festival after-parties, and other bars that are around also. So the town just comes to life. Baja Beach Fest takes over Rosarito.
Chris: I agree. I think the one thing that is really special about this festival is that once you get off the toll road into Rosarito, you really have entered Baja Beach Fest. We’ve worked with all the local restaurants and owners, and we really try to help elevate their businesses and bring to life Rosarito because we believe that beyond the music and beyond the stage and the Ferris wheel and all the other cool things we have, the restaurants and the bars and the little shops and everything are just as much a part of the fabric of the festival as the actual headliners.
Is there anything different between the first and second weekends?
Aaron: We try to keep it as cohesive as possible. You know, something that Coachella has done over time is maybe certain weekends might have certain special guests, or even certain artists might not be able to play the second weekend or the first weekend. I think what we’ve found is that when it comes to special guests and when it comes to these moments that the artists create, it really is out of our control. You would think that it’s in our control, but the artists have really taken it upon themselves to bring these special guests out that they wanna feature in their shows and whatnot. So the only real difference that I would see is maybe they’re a little bit more warmed up by weekend two as an artist. But outside of that, I think that it just depends on if the weather’s different.
Chris: I think last year what was pretty interesting was when the artists got warmed up. Maybe it was just last year, it was our first year ever doing two weekends and was also the first festival back in Latin America, and the first festival back for 95% of the artists that played. So a lot of the artists were really warming up weekend one and then came just on a different level weekend two. So I’m expecting now that touring is in full steam again, that weekend one and weekend two can expect a very similar experience.
Tell me a little about the food that’s going to be there.
Chris: Fans can get really excited about the authentic food curation that we do at the festival. I think that that’s like a really exciting and special program that we’ve put together where we curate local food from Tijuana, Ensenada locally in Rosarito and Valle de Guadalupe.
Aaron: It’s authentic Mexican food. Birria, tacos de carne asada, hot dogs, Estilos Sinaloa, ceviche, you get a little bit of everything. And lots of good drinks, cold beer.
One thing Coachella is known for is its after-parties. Tell me about Baja Fests.
Aaron: So something cool about our festival is the VIP bands get an after-party included, which happens at Papas and Beer. This year, we’re gonna have Arcangel, Ryan Castro, and Tokischa. And GA also has an after-party that’s an add-on at Bombay beach club, which is on the grounds as well. And in there it’s Lunay, it’s Jhayco, and Jay Wheeler. And we’re starting to try and do more secret after-parties, and maybe some dinner experiences and that type of thing where it surrounds the city, not only on the grounds. So that’s the challenge is we are always trying to create and bring more to the fan experience.
I’ve seen a lot of influencers say they will be in attendance, like Luisito Comunica, how does their presence add to the vibe to the festival?
Chris: It’s kind of weird. Like when we first started Baja Beach Fest, we got hit up by so many different walks of life from the influencer social lens. And at first, we’re like, ‘whoa, we don’t even know what to do with this.’ Cause it was almost like, ‘Hey, I want to come and just create content for you guys.’ We didn’t really have a strategy behind it. It was just really authentic and organic, and it wasn’t until last year that we started to really put somebody on our team to help kind of manage that, and it’s a really cool program, we work with just a lot of different personalities. Aaron really pushes this hard, how important it is to just continue to be authentic from every single touchpoint. So when we think about authenticity, we really think about how it’s gonna touch or amplify, or make somebody feel proud of being a Latino. Or to get immersed in Latin culture if you’re not Latino, and you’re coming to the festival. So when we look at those influencers, we’re pretty careful about how we curate them.
So I know that this is not either of yours, only festival. What makes you most excited about planning Baja Beach Fest?
Aaron: Well, Baja beach Fest is the baby. It’s the festival that we started with, and at least for me, my first festival. I know it was Chris’s first urban Latin festival. But it’s just so special being in Rosarito, being on the beach. It’s something super unique that I don’t think any festival in the world has. And knowing how special it is for most Latinos that live in California, and now all over the world, that comes out to enjoy the weekend in Rosarito- that’s what makes it extra special for me and motivates me every day.
Chris: I share the same sentiment. We talk about it a lot, how we really care about the site and the experience for the fans, and what’s so exciting about this festival, is there’s just nothing else that you can replicate. It’s open and inclusive to a lot of people, you can come down from the west coast into Rosarito and be able to drink if you’re 18 and over, and you have the backdrop of San Diego in the background, and it’s just a very unique setting.
How would you compare a festival that takes place in Mexico to one in the states?
Aaron: I mean, Mexico is Mexico. There’s a sense of more freedom in my opinion. Like you can be drinking on the streets, you can enjoy the authentic Mexican food, the people of Mexico. I don’t know, it’s this cultural side that you can’t replicate if you do it in LA or Dallas or whatever. Mexico, I think, will always have that spice to it. So yeah, as far as the experience goes, I think that’s what is extra special.