JAMAICA | Trelawny’s Reggae Park 420: A new Home for Reggae & International Music Festivals

JAMAICA | Trelawny’s Reggae Park 420: A new Home for Reggae & International Music Festivals

Montego Bay, Jamaica, January 18, 2023 - The sleepy township of Friendship in Trelawny, which sits in the heart of the cockpit country, and washed by the Martha Brae river that provides potable water for the parish, is destined to come alive in the not too distant future, with the sound of music at “The Reggae Park 420 Escape” now under construction.

Since the advent of music festivals in Jamaica, beginning with Reggae Sunsplash at Jarrett Park, Montego Bay in the 1970s, Fred Sessler’s World Music Festival in 1982 and Reggae Sumfest at Montego Freeport as well as Jazz and Blues at the Aqueduct in Rose Hall, among others, there has never really been the creation of a facility dedicated to the performance of the now internationally revered Reggae musical art.

In fact, Reggae music was in 2018 named a ‘global treasure’ by the United Nations. UNESCO, the world body’s cultural and scientific agency, added the genre that originated in Jamaica to its collection of ‘intangible cultural heritage’ which was deemed worthy of protection and promotion.

Despite this however, there has never been a built environment dedicated to the exposition of Reggae, one of the world’s protected music, which originated not from the grand pianos and violins in the hills of opulence in St. Andrew, but from the descendants of Jamaica’s enslaved people in the bowels of Trench Town in western Kingston.

A Built Entertainment Environment

Chairman of The Reggae Park 420 Escape attraction, Dr. Donovan A Forbes says the plan is to ‘Turn Culture into Capital’. In order for Jamaica’s Reggae culture to have  a competitive advantage in the global music industry, we must develop the right infrastructure by infusing the latest in entertainment infrastructure and security technology. At the Reggae Park, we are doing just that.| Calvin G. Brown PhotoChairman of The Reggae Park 420 Escape attraction, Dr. Donovan A Forbes says the plan is to ‘Turn Culture into Capital’. In order for Jamaica’s Reggae culture to have a competitive advantage in the global music industry, we must develop the right infrastructure by infusing the latest in entertainment infrastructure and security technology. At the Reggae Park, we are doing just that.| Calvin G. Brown PhotoEnter entrepreneur and philanthropist Dr. Donavon Forbes, a development financial consultant who honed his skills in New York’s financial district, home to the world’s busiest stock market. He acquired the 62 acre property now being provisioned as Reggae Park 420 Escape Ltd., which was formerly a sugar cane plantation and which is surrounded by miles of emerald tributary of the Martha Brae river.

Reggae Park carved its place in history as part of the battleground of  the Maroon wars of Cudjoe’s Trelawny Town Maroons who fought the British in the Cockpit Country and forced the creation of a treaty so that the British could live in peace, as long as the Maroons were not disturbed.

The property is being prepared to offer a variety of tours and activities for all types of audience including local parties, activities for local and overseas visitors, cruise ship visitors and facilities for churches and schools.

It is being promoted as a facility with a cultural, historical, artistic, and musical ambience that is environmentally sustainable, and lends itself to the staging of international musical festivals in a setting that is comfortable, acoustically breathtaking, and environmentally pleasing.

‘Turning Culture into Capital’

Today, “The Reggae Park 420 Escape” is awash with historical relics from the days when enslaved Africans were the backbone of Trelawny’s economic system, creating untold wealth for the white planters through its sugar plantations which exported valuable sugar and rum to England from the busy port of Falmouth.

Reggae Park Staging  area features a 62 acre property which was formerly a sugar cane plantation and which is surrounded by miles of emerald tributary of the Martha Brae river. | Calvin  G. Brown PhotoReggae Park Staging area features a 62 acre property which was formerly a sugar cane plantation and which is surrounded by miles of emerald tributary of the Martha Brae river. | Calvin G. Brown PhotoChairman of The Reggae Park 420 Escape attraction, Dr. Donovan A Forbes says the plan is to ‘Turn Culture into Capital’.  “Our first step was to take cognisance of Jamaica’s Noise Abatement Act, where one is prohibited from singing or playing musical or noisy instrument, or operate or cause to be operated a loudspeaker, microphone or device for the amplification of sound from any private premises or public places at any time of day or night where the sound is audible within one hundred metres of the source of that sound. 

If it is reasonably capable of causing annoyance to people during specified hours  between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and midnight to 6 a.m. during the week, beyond a one hundred metre distance in the vicinity of any dwelling house, hospital, nursing home, infirmary, hotel or guest house, then that sound is presumed to cause an annoyance.

“We have taken the potential challenges posed by the Noise Abatement Act in the staging of Reggae shows, and take it to an area designed to accommodate an exposition of the music, and which allows for greater development of Jamaica’s internationally appreciated Reggae in an environmentally friendly and appropriate ambience,” says Dr. Forbes.

Jamaica being the home of reggae, dancehall, and other genres of Jamaican music, there are endless live concerts, shows, and festivals that fill the Jamaican event calendar each year.Jamaica being the home of reggae, dancehall, and other genres of Jamaican music, there are endless live concerts, shows, and festivals that fill the Jamaican event calendar each year.In order for Jamaica’s Reggae culture to have  a competitive advantage in the global music industry, we must develop the right infrastructure by infusing the latest in entertainment infrastructure and security technology. At the Reggae Park, we are doing just that,” Forbes declared.

He explained that “the venue is being constructed to facilitate Jamaicans and the Jamaican patron, who happens to be among the most discriminating audiences in the world. And when you get it right, they will support you all the way. Build it for Jamaicans and the visitors will enjoy it,” said Forbes.

The Reggae Park executive revealed that he has already invited a number of stakeholders within the music performance industry to view the facility and who have given their comments and made  valuable recommendations. This includes artistes, promoters, musicians and the Jamaica Tourist Board, TPDCo, and the Ministry of Culture. 

He said it was his understanding that the parish of Trelawny had been earmarked to be the entertainment capital of Jamaica and “our Reggae Park directors are taking the lead in transforming Trelawny from its traditional sugar base to that of entertainment.”

Highlighting A Rich Historic Heritage

An old slave plantation bridge, built by enslaved Africans across the river in support of the sugar plantations in that area | Calvin G. Brown PhotoAn old slave plantation bridge, built by enslaved Africans across the river in support of the sugar plantations in that area | Calvin G. Brown PhotoIn the absence of a museum to slavery, it is planned that over time, The Reggae Park will highlight elements of Jamaica’s historic past, featuring the lifestyle of enslaved Africans upon  whose backs the wealth of Jamaica was built.

International tourism has become one of the world’s most important economic activities, and In the Western tradition, organized travel with supporting sightseeing, with emphasis on “heritage tourism” aimed at the celebration and appreciation of historic sites of recognized cultural importance and beach resorts.

“Jamaica is rich in heritage and culture, and we at Reggae Park intend to capitalize on the richness of our heritage and the strength of our culture in marketing the Park to Jamaicans as well as our visitors who travel to our island to experience Jamaica as a whole and not just our beaches and our hotels,” Dr. Forbes advised. 

“We are going to showcase the culture and gastronomical skills of the community, that has supported them over these hundreds of years, their historic jerked pork, chicken, fish and other foods; their natural cane, mango, ortanique, orange, coconut and other juices in addition to  their world class Scotch Bonnet peppers,their art, and their agriculture,” he noted.

The entrepreneur and philanthropist said the objective was not only to build a stand alone music and cultural facility, but also to help redevelop the surrounding communities which met their demise with the death of the sugar plantations and factories on which they had historically depended to eke out an existence.  

The Reggae Park intends to empower community members by helping them to develop their skill levels and business potential to provide adjunct services to the Reggae Park from which they can make a sustainable living and improve their quality of life.

It is in the development of these communities on which the concept of heritage tourism is built. It has worked in all the popular tourism destinations of the world including Greece, Egypt, Mexico, as well as the destinations in Latin America. Why can’t it happen in Jamaica? 

Reggae Park 420 Escape does not want to be another ‘All Inclusive’ facility; we want to be exclusively Jamaican, Forbes declared.

Reggae Park is not only music but you may raft on the Martha Brae in a relaxing, peaceful atmosphere. It is being prepared to offer a variety of tours and activities for all types of audience including local parties, activities for local and overseas visitors, cruise ship visitors and facilities for churches and schools | Calvin G. Brown Photo Reggae Park is not only music but you may raft on the Martha Brae in a relaxing, peaceful atmosphere. It is being prepared to offer a variety of tours and activities for all types of audience including local parties, activities for local and overseas visitors, cruise ship visitors and facilities for churches and schools | Calvin G. Brown Photo We intend to introduce a number of activities for locals and visitors to include rafting on the Martha Brae, horseback riding, water slides, hiking in the woods, bird watching and ATV tours among others, including Serving the most exclusive gastronomic delights.

Of course, it is planned that there will be live shows on the days when groups are at the park either from hotels or cruise ships, providing employment for entertainers and musicians as well as persons from the nearby communities of Wakefield, Good Hope and  Bounty Hall.

An important feature of the Reggae Park, will be the construction of a number of rustic but comfortable vacation cabins to complement the  nature of the development, which will be available to persons and families who prefer a nature village type atmosphere. Dr. Forbes declined to offer a timeline for that phase of the development.

According to Reggae Park 420 Escape, its combination of tours and activities, premium events, and stunning rainforest setting sets the new attraction apart from other tourist destinations in Jamaica.

 It is expected that the Reggae Park 420 Escape will come on stream by the summer of this year.

Persons desirious of getting more details about the "Reggae Park 420 Escape" development can inquire by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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