For the third year in a row, MegaRumba will have a new home, and it’s all because of you. The one-day music festival, originally created to celebrate Colombian independence, will now be hosted by Mana Wynwood. The primary catalyst for the change of venue? Fan complaints. One of the main organizers, Tony Albelo, CEO of Swarm, explains that social media made clear some tweaks were needed.
“The first year we did it,” Albelo says, “it was at Bayfront Park, and that was great, but we got a lot of complaints from people that the parking was expensive, which is something we don’t control.”
Although the tickets to the fest were inexpensive, $25 a pop, the parking in the area often cost $30.
“The next year, we moved it to Tamiami Park, which had free parking, but the complaint was, 'Well, it’s kind of out west, and we liked Bayfront Park.'”
For the third year, the nearly impossible challenge was how to make everyone happy.
The solution that MegaRumba and its partners — iHeart’s Tu 94.9 and Swarm — settled on had two parts. The festival, which will take place Saturday, July 15, was moved to the more centrally located Wynwood neighborhood, and admission was waived. That way, if attendees still need to pay for parking, the free entry means less of a strain on their budgets.
Another major update is the lineup. In the past, the roster of performers slanted toward Colombian artists. This year’s incarnation is more diverse. While Colombian acts such as genre-bending stalwarts Locos por Juana (and a 2017 New Times Best of Miami winner) are on the bill, so are acts from Mexico (Los 5), Puerto Rico (Marlow Rosado), and the United States (Play-N-Skillz).
It’s a strategy that’s tied directly to the new location. “In keeping in line with the new direction of the festival,” Albelo says, “making it younger, hipper, and cooler, there’s no younger, hipper, and cooler place than Wynwood.”
Though seminal Colombian performers such as Binomio de Oro and Grupo Niche have graced MegaRumba stages in the past, they aren’t exactly current or, well, even on the radio much. The shift to the latest format is an effort to make the fest not only more modern but also more culturally relevant.
“We noticed the audience was a cross section of Miami: Cubans and Venezuelans and Peruvians and white people and black people and everything in between," Albelo says. “It’s everybody. There are several independence days celebrated in July; obviously July 4 for American independence, but also Peru, Venezuela, and Colombia. We said, 'Let’s make it about celebrating that Latin independence,' and that’s why the subtitle of it is now ‘Celebra tu independencia’ (Celebrate your independence). Instead of making it exclusive, we wanted to make it inclusive.”
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That’s not to say the event’s Colombian roots won’t still have a big impact on the festivities. In fact, MegaRumba promises a huge surprise guest in the form of a major Colombian star.
And with mojitos at the pop-up Barú VIP lounge, Latin-themed food trucks, people-watching, and free admission, MegaRumba could easily swell to 20,000 attendees, making it “the surprise of the summer,” Albelo believes.
“It’s a free independence day party. What more could you want?”