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Matala Festival 2014

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A clay guitar by Vassilis Politakis at the 2012 Matala Beach Festival

A clay guitar by Vassilis Politakis at the 2012 Matala Beach Festival. Heavy, man.

Vassilis Politakis
The Matala Beach Festival, perhaps in keeping with its hippie roots, has been transforming itself annually. Since its origin in June 2011 as what may have been the largest book-release party in the world for Arn Strohmeyer's book 'The Myth of Matala', through 2012's locally-hosted second edition, 2013's official Municipality of Festos and Greek National Tourist Organization-sponsored event, and now 2014's more "mature" festival, the small beach town with the rich hippie history has been attracting more and more visitors. Like another famous hippie event, Woodstock, it seems that everyone of a Certain Age is suddenly remembering that they too were there at the height of its hip hippiness and must return during the festival to catch up.

The Festival has undergone three changes of name, one for each year, with variants. The first year was the Matala Reunion Festival - but that may have sounded too exclusive - what if you'd never been there at all? 2012's event was just the Matala Festival, but now thepermanent title seems to be the Matala Beach Festival. Possibly, that one will stick as the event becomes more and more a part of the official calendar of tourism events in Greece.

The 2014 festival itself runs from June 20th-22nd and is free of charge to enter and attend. In a sign of things to come, some special privileges can be purchased by joining the "Friends of Matala" for 50 Euro for the four days - this will get you reserved parking and some other treats. In 2014, it also falls on the Summer Solstice, just for some added power. There may be some related events leading up to the festival or following on its heels.

Visitors will be introduced to the Matala Philosophy: Today is Life, Tomorrow Never Come - supposedly painted on the seawall to welcome Beatle George Harrison, though it is unclear if he actually came to Matala. The odds are good - at various moments he would have run into Joni Mitchell (a definite admitted Matala cave resident), probably Bob Dylan, and a number of others who went on to musical fame.

You can get a taste of the film by viewing its trailer.

Musical Acts

Over 40 musical acts will play during the festival, including some (mostly) 60s era tribute bands. You can see the full Matala Beach Festival program here. After the bands finish, DJs will keep the music coming until "sunrise", or so the official site states. Looking for sleep? That may the only experience unavailable in Matala this weekend.

The Road to Matala

In 2013, the festival inspired satellite events elsewhere in Europe, under the umbrella of "The Road to Matala" as musicians from the UK travel to their ultimate destination of Matala. This may be repeated in 2014 but is not official yet.

Can't attend this year? You may be able to get a peek using these live web cams at Visit Matala: Matala Web Cams. However, don't be surprised if they crash from overuse during the festival days.

Rick Sweitzer, who has run kayaking trips out of Matala for decades, and who spent a summer living in the caves in the 1970s, reported that the 2013 event was jammed with huge crowds, enjoying perfect weather, and that the replay of "Dark Side of the Moon" kept the beach busy until dawn.

More on the Previous Matala Festivals:
Matala Festival 2012
Matala Hippie Reunion Festival 2011
The Caves of Matala - Just who really lived in those caves? Some of the answers may surprise - or alarm - you.

Small Hotels in Matala - Inexpensive and sweet, Matala's "hotel row" is just steps from the beach.

Compare prices on Hotels and Rooms in Matala . Note: some hotels that come up close to the top on booking services for Matala are in Agia Galini and other towns "near" Matala. If you're happy with just being "near", choose Pitsidia, Kamilari, Sivas, Vori, Mires/Moires, or Kamalaki - all about a 20 minute drive to Matala. Tymbaki is about 25 minutes away and Agia Galini is about a half an hour away. Agia Galini is a sweet town on its own, with a beautiful harbor, good beach, lively nightlife, and fun shopping, but just not that close to Matala itself. If you have a car and don't mind the drive, it can still be a good choice if Matala is full.

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