Sunny Side Festival truly delivered with an outstanding first edition

    Sunny Side Festival crowd in the Treehaus stage
    © Photography by Justine Ellul (

    The dust is settling after the first edition of Malta’s Sunny Side Festival came to a most successful close. Organisers and attendees alike are looking back at this inaugural event with smiles on their faces and full, happy hearts. A new festival that did nothing but impress, setting itself up as one of the go to destinations for pre Summer partying.

    There’s nothing quite like flying out for a festival abroad. The anticipation begins to build from the moment those flights are booked, as the next months are spent keeping a firm eye on the event pages. Poised and ready for titbits of information of what, where and who to expect. The build-up to the launch of Sunny Side Festival was just as full of suspense. Excitement surges as the finer details are cemented and before you know it, you’re on your way.

    Musically this festival offered a masterclass mix of the underground’s finest, brought together by a bunch of communities all well versed in making the magic happen, across all corners of the world. It was as much about the meeting of these minds, as it was about delivering an event truly for music lovers. A myriad of moments bearing shared as friendships and passions were mirrored from the booth to the floor.

    Sunny Side Festival main stage
    © Photography by Justine Ellul (

    Each day brought with it a unique setup and aside from the variety in the line-up, the choice between locations and the well-timed schedule in between them meant there was never a stagnant moment. Friday made for the introduction to UNO Club and its beautiful Treehaus and Tropicana stages. Slapfunk teamed up with tINI & The Gang at the Treehaus, the larger of the two stages. Thanks to the camouflage of foliage and the spotlit trees set subtly behind, the space buzzed from a big room vibe touched with the sweetness of nature surrounding it.

    The first partners stepped forward and it couldn’t have been off to a better start. Slapfunk residents and regulars set the mood, as Velasco wasted little time dropping moody groovers laced with steamy vocals. Doudou MD and Carlos Valdes followed, moving into a deeper tribal flavour, full of raucous drum rhythms and the odd slice of cool classic. Signing off with KMA’s timeless ‘Cape Fear’, it was then the turn of Samuel Deep, bringing smooth low-slung basslines that pummelled the big bass bin at the front. Leading ladies tINI & Anthea came on for the finale, a familiar pairing that despite going way back, are together championing a new and fresh sound dominated by big groove and gorgeous energy.

    Outside at Tropicana, something else was brewing. The outdoor garden oozed feels of classic terrace vibes that you might have soaked up in the earlier days of White Isle dancing outdoors. A stronger shade of techno capitalised on the hedonistic heads that filled it, a passion that resonated with such force that often brought capacity to its fullest. Ryan Elliot had it in the palm of his hand, driving energies of elation during a birthday blend that quite epically ended with a cake that had his name on it. Tijana T seized the rest, pummelling a faster beat right through until the end.

    Sunny Side Festival - Tortuga Beach stage
    © Photography by Justine Ellul (

    Saturday brought with it an all the more scenic setting, even if we couldn’t have imagined it so. Placed a distance away at the North tip of the island, the beautiful Tortuga beach took day two into full swing from the earlier start time of 12pm. And it was an easy dusting off from the previous night’s hangover. With the sun shining down on a beautiful open air at the beach, the stage was set with a Why?Not takeover.

    Some swam in the sea nearby as Satoshi Tomiie worked through the sweetest live, built from the foundation that only a career spanning over 30 years can bring. He later told us how the beach vibe influenced his direction, an inspiration of the outdoors channeled into bubbling grooves and soft keys. Voigt.Mas followed on, serving up sun soaked energies to a nicely packed dance spot poised so perfectly beneath the rays above. Lashings of acid broke through a blend of breaks, house and electro into futuristic feels, before the sax led highs of Galaxy 2 Galaxy’s ‘Transition’, offering a cheeky throwback from John Dimas as he danced the afternoon away with sparring partner Voigtmann. French brotherhood Miroloja brought in the sunset, right until the last moment, bringing a well balanced mix of synth led sounds with a bigger bassline just right to bring Tortuga to a close.

    With day turning to night, all roads were leading back to UNO. A hop, skip and a jump back to the island’s centre would pave the way for a two staged sound marathon from pioneering platform Yoyaku. The French outfit certainly know how to get the party started, and it’s thanks to this you’ll usually find the crew at the best events around Europe. Sunny Side Festival was born after the meeting of minds from Yoyaku and Sunny Side Up, and so Saturday night was a particularly special celebration, of what the team had achieved.

    Sonja Moonear at SSF
    © Photography by Justine Ellul (

    Antics for the evening brought together special back to back performances, pairing up OG’s like Magda and Cabanne with the more upcoming and certainly well deserved Morgan and Dan Shake’d. Representation spanned right through friends, family and established, associated artists. From Lewison’s warmup of well tempered, deep subtleties through to Tomas Station’s captivation of the returning crowds, sandwiched around a live set from Parisian pairing of the moment Aline Umber, the Treehaus Stage could not have been placed better for the welcome of Sonja Moonear. She brought a celebration of some classic but classy moments of techno from over the years, with minimal led house boasting pleasant trips and raw grind. There was no leaving early for this one – 4am came round too quickly. Thankfully, there was still another day to go.

    Sunday’s session started early with a boat party, that despite some hitch with the weather set sail at 12pm. Sadly, Slow Life’s Laurine & Cecilio were unable to take transport to the boat due to a choppier section on the water, but Dana Ruh was on hand alongside festival organisers and Sunny Side’s own UJ/DV (Danny & Luke). All the emotions felt so far for the two men of the moment could be expressed in no better way than directly at the controls of the music. Leading the way with sea faring energies and classic sounds the likes of DJ Assasin’s ‘A Face Amongst The Crowd’ (Intellidread Mix), they well and truly had the party going off. It was an outpouring of love and appreciation felt from the passengers and the pair themselves. With emotion riding high, Dana Ruh steered for the remainder of the course, an artist who despite already having a long spanning career, is somebody who is right now at the top of her game.

    SSF Boat party
    © Photography by Justine Ellul (

    Those who had tickets for the boat had experienced each offering that the festival had served. Those who didn’t made the most of the opportunity for rest, patiently preparing for the final round at UNO. The Tropicana garden was back open for the final fixture, being hosted by Half Baked and Trommel. If that wasn’t already enough, Dungeon Meat were celebrating 10 years of their own label in the Treehaus.

    It wasn’t long before that delightful outside space was once again packed to the rafters for the sounds of Sam Bangura & Harry McKanna. Masters of their own label North South Records (alongside Dale Mussington) these lads are absolutely spot on with the sound. Despite it only being early evening, they wasted no time at all in getting the party going full pelt.

    Over in the Treehaus, Laurine & Cecilio welcomed the returning crowd before Ron Obvious delivered his own fusion of sound with a neatly placed live. Dyed Soundorom followed with his ever appreciated blend of Parisian’s finest house and stage hosts Dungeon Meat delivered the naughtiness of juicy basslines and the most luscious of house led melodies.

    Raresh and Edward playing back to back at SSF
    © Photography by Justine Ellul (

    By this point, Raresh and Edward were firing up in Tropicana with a masterclass of minimal, a journey of hard hitting percussion leading growling grooves and tickling melodies. Softer sounds met cutting acid and trippy shades of synth, captivating and invigorating.

    As if the night wasn’t already at its peak, there was one final set and it was Prosumer at the helm. Bright disco had the whole room enthralled and the love was well and truly in the air. Big beats like Cajmere’s ‘Brighter Days’ kept the energy at peak right until the end, not before the beauty of Moodymann’s ‘Shades of Jae’ brought a barrage of cheers from the crowd in front.

    It was an ending of pure elation, not only celebrating the birth of the festival but the artist who closed it too, as the night concluded with the second cake of the weekend to a most humble and deserved Prosumer, who couldn’t have matched the vibe better. The only unfortunate thing was that like all good things, it had to come to an end.

    Prosumer at SSF
    © Photography by Justine Ellul (

    It has to be said that it’s no easy feat to launch a festival and with a first edition, you never really know how it’s going to go. But here it could only go one way, with a sound that remained niche and true, vehemently underground and made for the heads. Sunny Side Festival have proved that with the right planning, a devoted team completely passionate about the music and a host of festival partners that bring familiarity, and a wealth of the finest party starters from across the scene, it doesn’t have to be so difficult to really make some magic.

    The crowds that came will no doubt be returning and as the stories from the launch edition spread, you can bet that Sunny Side Festival 2025 is getting etched into many a clubbing calendar, at the very earliest of opportunities. See you back on the Sunny Side next year and if you’re ready to reserve your spot, sign up here to be the first in the know.

    More info on Sunny Side Festival
    Instagram | Facebook

    - Advertisement -