Albania
12 - 19 June

Last year, the debut of Kala felt like a marked shift by Albania’s tourist board to position itself as a raving destination. As the area’s first international music festival, its importance cannot be overstated. Festivals are often criticised for a lack of meaningful exchange, but with the organisers working in close collaboration with local businesses, Kala is designed to have an ongoing impact on the economy.

Despite the second edition seeing attendee numbers double that of the first, the atmosphere remained peaceful and relaxed during the day. The main difference of the festival’s expansion was, simply, that there was more of a party vibe spread across its many stages. This could certainly be felt during Inner City’s Saturday night slot at the Empire stage, where a live rendition of Get Free felt like the triumphant anthem that primed the audience for the weekend ahead.

It was, however, Josey Rebelle who stole the show at the Yacht Club, and the impromptu b2b with Danielle that preceded her set should be noted, too. The pair complemented each other perfectly with their seamless synergy, taking the crowd on a thrilling joyride that weaved between genres at lightning speed. Over at the blissful Gjipe island, with its towering cliffs and turquoise, crystal clear waters, Jamie Tiller ramped up the energy to take it home in the last hour on the Sunday evening. DJs Hunee and Jayda G joined in with the crowd – proving that, much like the festival-goers, the artists love the experience of Kala too.

It’s worth noting that for its second edition, there was a new string of secret beach parties – boat trips were in place to take festival-goers to secluded islands where they could party with the likes of Hunee and Call Super. Sadly, these were all cancelled, bar one. But if there’s any suspicion of this new format being Fyre Festival-esque hyperbole and a too-good-to-be-true marketing strategy that reads more like an algorithm binding together several millennial aspirations – in truth, it’s not. The cancellation derived from issues with a new boat company and for its next edition, the organisers promise to iron out logistics. Kala has some way to go in ironing out creases, but it’s a learning curve. Ultimately, the location is a winner for Kala – and it’s difficult to feel truly inconvenienced when it feels like you’re lounging in paradise.