Kala Festival - One Week Party in Dhërmi - Into Albania

Kala Festival – One Week Party in Dhërmi

That time of year when we talk about Kala Festival is here again! While last year’s edition marked a new experience for all electronic fest music lover, Kala Festival 2 confirmed this mid-June tradition is here to stay. It looks like every summer, Kala will continue to bring thousands of young people from all over the world to the shores of spectacular Dhërmi.

The pale pink bracelets on the participants’ wrists clearly show they have been partying on this idyllic setup since June 12th. Just like last year, the seaside stages play electronic, house, techno dance, soul and psychedelic hits all day long. The first and most visible stage is The Yacht Club, a platform that stands right above the sea and the first one to get the party going, every single day.

The Yacht Club during the day, photo by IntoAlbania.

Nearby, we have The Cove, the most popular stage, where it is nearly impossible to find a spot! In this ideal location, you can take turns sunbathing and dancing to the beats of Rhythm Sister, Kasheme or the dozens of other DJs set to play here daily, from noon to dawn.

Kala Festival, photo by IntoAlbania.

Connected to one another via a grand tunnel of tall trees, that are spectacularly lit each night, are the Splendor and Empire seaside stages, which spread the electricity and vibrant atmosphere of the fest for more than 3000 participants.

Splendor stage, photo by IntoAlbania.

Empire stage, photo by IntoAlbania.

People come from all over the globe to attend Kala Festival. Sporting a stylish headdress and high braid, a thick golden necklace and flouncy electric blue dress, Abbey, a girl from Bristol, tells us how delightful she thinks this all is!

One of the participants, Abbey, at Kala Festival. Photo by IntoAlbania.

“I came to Albania specifically for this festival. I’m having a blast and the people are so friendly,” she tells us while some people behind her start a swimming competition, though it is way past midnight.

The numbers of this year’s edition speak for themselves: 3000 participants and more than 400 DJs, musicians, and festival staff members. Mainstage Festivals, the British Company behind this idea, brought their expertise to Albania’s famous Riviera after organizing similar smashing successes all over Europe. Among the long list of popular DJs performing at Kala, some worth mentioning are Inner City, Honey Dijo, Peach, and Øyvind Morken.

Only day after The Guardian announced Jordan Rakei as “One to Watch,” the rising star performed live for Kala’s exhilarated crowd, giving one of the most amazing performances of this year’s edition.

Jordan Rakei performing at Empire stage, photo by IntoAlbania.

Rakei, the Australian multi-instrumentalist performed songs from “Origin,” his latest album, which came out in mid-June. “Say Something,” his pre-album release, has taken just a little while to gain popularity in Europe’s dance clubs but has finally made it to an overwhelming response.   

By Empire, we meet up with Ed and Ingrid, who have come here from London and South Africa, respectively. They enthusiastically claim how much they are enjoying it all – the music, the beaches, the place – and that they would recommend this entire experience to anyone.   

Ingrid and Ed, participants at the festival. Photo by IntoAlbania.

But, Kala represents a unique experience for the locals, as well. Dalila and Markeli, two participants from Tirana, while relaxing on chaise lounges as they listen to DJ Iona’s music, describe the festival and the people in it as simply wonderful.

Markel and Dalila, photo by IntoAlbania.

Unlike other festivals, Kala provides much more than just music by the sea. Daily activities include seaside yoga, meditation or massage sessions as well as tours of the idyllic bays of Albania’s Ionian Riviera. Boats for Gjipe Beach and the increasingly popular Grama Bay constantly travel back and forth, taking all the curious festival goers to these spectacular sites while keeping the party going onboard. 

Grama Bay, part of the tours organized for the participants at the festival.

Many are curious about the carvings and inscriptions on the bays’ ancient cliffs, dating back to more than 2400 years ago, with some left from the Communist period and others from eager present-day tourists, claiming their spot in the history of this gorgeous area. The expert guide in these tours is Ols Lafe, also Director of the Center for the Development of Ancient and Medieval Albanian Heritage (CDAMAH).

Ols Lafe explaining the origin behind the inscriptions at Grama Bay. Photo by IntoAlbania.

We find out that the inscriptions mostly served as cries for help and support from ancient mariners, who would address these writings as much to the Dioscuri, the ancient Greek protectors of travelers, as to Jesus Christ or God in subsequent years.

Some of the inscriptions at Grama Bay, photo by IntoAlbania.

We make our way back to Dhërmi where the party never stops. Here, people are joined by their mutual love of life, the sun, sea and music, elements which create a truly vibrant atmosphere. In fact, mingling and socializing has never been easier! Betty, a girl that immediately catches your attention because of her large, original tattoos, has come here all the way from Leeds, in the UK.

Betty, one of the participants. Photo by IntoAlbania.

“It’s one of the best festivals I have ever been a part of,” she tells us, while not holding back on her extremely positive impressions of Albania. “Seriously, your country is so beautiful. This beach truly is a paradise!” she exclaims. We exchange our Instagrams and, once we take leave of one another, we check out her profile, where it says she is interested in “Anything out of the ordinary.” It seems that she is in the right place at the right time for that is exactly what Kala is: an extraordinary event.