‘Paulino Vieira – Baía das Gatas’ (c) 2007 caboindex. Used under a CC license.
Taking place in the eponymous Bay of Sharks, in the northernmost part of the island of Sao Vicente, the Woodstock-inspired Baía das Gatas music festival dates all the way back to 1984. Starting out as a gathering of friends with a common interest in making music, the event has, over the years, become a staple of the Cape Verdean summer, renowned for bringing together the best of the local and international music scenes. Past and present artists that have graced the beachfront stage of the Baía das Gatas festival include local musical institution Tito Paris – a regular fixture at the venue, afro-Portuguese pop group Santos e Pecadores, and a host of other up-and-coming or well established acts, mostly hailing from former Portuguese colonies and tropical countries. Styles on offer at the festival range from traditional ethnic rhythms to more modern genres such as pop, funk, jazz or hip-hop, ensuring the card is as diverse and encompassing as possible while never losing sight of its goals.
Despite the small size of the island itself, the Baía das Gatas music festival manages to draw impressive numbers, with around 35,000 people each year (both locals and tourists) flocking to the scenic Sao Vicente beachfront and camping there for the duration. The festival perfectly reflects the Cape Verdean people’s love of music, resulting in two or three days of celebration of this art form in its purest, rawest state. Tourists walking in Cape Verde and looking for something a little different or more culturally inclined owe it to themselves to look up this stalwart of Cape Verdean culture, as well as to join in the fun!