K. Xydias and A. Clerides talk about the new, large festival that is shaking things up in Limassol!

* NOTE: All the tributes of All About Limassol (as the Official Guide of Limassol) aim to ONLY highlight the special advantages of this wonderful city, so that everyone can be aware of the unique Experiences it offers. Under no circumstances do they have any promotional or nominal value, nor do they serve the interests of Companies, Municipalities, Organizations or Individuals.

In the summer of 2017, a different kind of event ‘landed’ in the Limassol tourist area completely out of the blue, impressing everyone with its vibes, bright lights and electric atmosphere. Loud Music Festival, or LMF, transformed the event area of Potamos Yermasoyias and created a new chapter in the history of summer festivals in the city of entertainment. This 3-day party, which began in Nicosia, found its rightful home in Limassol, making everyone feel that this is where it should always have been.

Limassol’s uplifting summer vibes were the catalyst for the ‘love at first sight’ connection between the city and LMF: the city went nuts over the festival and the festival went nuts over the city. Of course, when something is that successful right from the start, with thousands of people excited about it, it is not just a matter of luck, chemistry or coincidence. The cheerful attitude and the love of music of the festival’s team, and the desire of the Yermasoyia Municipality to bring new, interesting ideas for events in the tourist area, were crucial factors for the success of the event. Speaking to the contributors from both sides is the only way to understand the professionalism and dedication that goes into such a project, and so this tribute by All About Limassol (the Official Source for Promoting Limassol) is a testament that all good thing that happen in the city are not a matter of coincidence.

The team consists of Alexandros Clerides (aka Alex Cle) and Andreas Panayides, who became involved with entertainment events from the time they were teenagers. Though they are still very young, they know every useful secret in this business, and they are the ones who came up with the idea and are still the core team behind this event. They always wanted the Loud Music Festival to be a 3-day party, with free entrance for everyone, designed and organized to amplify the party vibes in the heart of the city. The festival began in Nicosia in 2014 and, though there was no plan for it to be moved to Limassol, everyone now believes that this was the ideal place for it.

“We want LMF to be a Festival in the heart of the city, so that people can identify with it, and work with and for it. At least 150 people work within the festival area each year, most of them young people,” Alexandros explains.

Even though their collaboration with the Yermasoyia Municipality is just a year old, and they had only met the Mayor, Kyriakos Xydias, for the general issues concerning the event, the warm feelings and friendly attitude detected during the interview is a sure sign that the LMF move to the Limassol tourist area was great idea.

“Whenever we worked with municipalities before, we felt like we owed them for using the public areas. Now, with Yermasoyia Municipality, it’s the first time we find ourselves enjoying a simple, sincere and easy collaboration,” says Alexandros.

How was everything done so easily, Mayor Xydias? Did the organizers have to slip anything under the table? (laughs)
Not even close. Our collaboration had nothing to do with anything under the table. In fact, we had not even met these guys before the City Council approved their application. All we had was a detailed description that they sent us about the LMF, for which they had requested to use the area of Potamos Yermasoyias. It felt right for us, because we wanted to do something to rejuvenate the tourist area.

“With Alexandros (left) and Andreas (right) it was obvious that we would work together just fine. They were open to anything we asked for and we made sure to have everything arranged for such a large event, from cleaning services, to traffic and parking areas”, the Mayor explains.

Weren’t you worried that a festival like this could would bring commotion to the area?
Not at all. These guys are professionals and they take care of every details, so that people can have a good time, without causing any trouble. I saw this with my own eyes, because I was in the area of the festival every single night.

In fact, one day, when I had my suit on, because I was coming back from a wedding, and a young man asked me how old I was. and wWhen I told him, he responded: “You should come and talk to my parents, because they don’t never go anywhere”.

There is a belief that young people cause trouble, or that they and the have delinquent habits, but in my point of view, if you approach these age groups and we communicate with them, and, most importantly, mostly, if we offer them options for having fun in a safe environment, these extreme reactions we fear will would be minimized.

If the Yermasoyia Mayor, Kyriakos Xydias, and the LMF team decided to focus on their differences, they would have found many reasons to never work together. Instead, they chose to make it their priority to emphasize what brings them closer – that is, the large event, with free entrance for all, which offers new entertainment options and a sense of vivaciousness in the city – which resulted in a collaboration that should serve as an example for all similar cases in the future.

Alex, were you aware of the plans of the Yermasoyia Municipality in the tourist area?
No, it was a random contact. We had to look for a new place for the festival to take place in 2017, because our application for the fourth event in the Parliament Park in Nicosia was rejected. We looked for alternatives, such as the bastion in Famagusta Gate, but there was still no room for an agreement with the Nicosia Municipality. They had mentioned some issues with complaints about disturbance, which was their excuse for the rejection of the application.

We think that if you take into account the importance of such events for a city, that is, offering free entertainment each summer, and the thousands who attend, this should mitigate the issue of a few complaints.

We do make sure that we have all the special and professional equipment required for concentrating the sound inside the festival area, but there will always be some noise outside the event. The fact that there was no final agreement with the Nicosia Municipality, despite our efforts to select an alternative venue, makes us feel that the disturbance may not have been the main reason for this rejection.

“During the time we were looking for a venue to which to move LMF, I happened to pass by the event area at Potamos Yermasoyias. It may be that I knew exactly what we were looking for, but still, this place ‘clicked’ immediately. It is perfect for events like ours and it makes me wonder why such events don’t take place here more often,” Alex says.

What other reasons could there be for rejecting your application?
Look, LMF was created to be open for everyone to have fun, without any slogans or labels attached to it. We had all kinds of organized groups, from political parties to sports clubs,who came to us asking to join the event, but we did not want to identify our event with any specific organization. We only stand for quality entertainment and good music. Still, when you reject such offers, some people may not be too happy with you.

Mayor Xydias, you are a member of a political party. Does this not affect your decision regarding the Municipality’s policies?
When a Mayor wants to do a good job, you cannot have blinkers on. This is what I have stood by since my first day of office and I think that my actions prove it to be true. I do have my own ideology, but the Municipality seeks for policies that serve the public interest, which means all of the citizens. The fact that Alexandros’ last name, for example, is identified with an opposing political party to mine, was no reason to be prejudiced against their proposal. We examined the application concerning the LMF, and, considering our goals for the rejuvenation of the tourist area, we managed to include the event in our schedule that same summer.

Cleanliness is something that both the organizers and Yermasoyia Municipality are paying a lot of attention to, and they strive to keep the area clean, both during the event and after it has ended. In fact, from the summer of 2018 onwards, there will be recycling bins for every kind of garbage in the area, to encourage people to help with keeping the festival clean.

There were complaints in Nicosia. Doesn’t that apply in Limassol, too?
I was at the event every night and I noticed that the noise pollution, which Alexandros says was the main issue when the event was held in Nicosia, was in fact quite limited, in comparison to the noise we’ve had during other events. This has a lot to do with the fact that these guys are truly professional. Beyond that, however, we are already in talks with an engineer from Greece to conduct a report on what would be the best way to reduce the sound pollution from the event area even more in the future.

How do you control sound pollution, Alex?
We use special sound installations, which reduce the strength of the decibels, the further you get from the stage. We make sure that the same applies to the atmosphere in the venue, too. The vibes get less intense as you move towards the food and drinks area, while the area in front of the stage is still as loud as it should be. Thus, when you want to grab a bite, you can also get some rest and relax.

A large team, consisting mostly of young people, is behind a large part of the enthusiastic preparations for Loud Music Festival. In fact, around 150 people are employed each year at the festival, while others participate voluntarily, eager to join the vision and gain something from the experience of setting up such an event.

How can there be no problems with this new festival that has just arrived in the city?
MAYOR: We have spotted some problems, but, with the experience of last year’s event, we can handle them as they come. We do whatever needs to be done, because we want these kinds of events in the city. The feedback we received from the shopkeepers in the area last year was very positive. When 10,000 people attend a 3-day event, traffic will definitely be more intense. Restaurants, bars and pubs benefitted from this event, and even hotels received an uptick in visitors, as there were a lot of attendees from Nicosia who chose to stay in Limassol for the weekend.

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The festival area has been designed in such a way as to host attendees for 7 consecutive hours, over 3 days. People of any age can attend (teenagers, young people and parents with their own children), so a lounge area was created some distance from the party area in front of the stage, where people can relax and enjoy their food and drinks. 

ALEX: The festival is improving year by year. This year, we have a better understanding of the area and the people’s needs and expectations. We made sure to provide more options for food from well-known franchise stores, such as Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. There will also be an actual café, too, provided by Costa Coffee. We created an area where people can relax, from 5 pm to 12 am. There will also be another lounge area by the cocktail bar.

Basically, this is going to be a miniature city at Potamos Yermasoyias, where people can relax and have fun, no matter their age.

We want people to enjoy LMF, whether they are 18 years old, or older, or even parents bringing their own children along. This is why we extended the lounge area this year, to allow more people to take a step back, away from the intense vibes of the stage.

The event area of Potamos Yermasoyias became a facilitator for not only Nicosia and Limassol to meet, but also for two different generations to find common ground. It may not be such a coincidence that the area which thrilled the festival organizers so, also happened to be the construction project upon which Yermasoyia Mayor, Kyriakos Xydias worked at in the summers during his student years. 

Alex, do you think that the Mayor is expecting some reward for being so keen to help?
What reward? I first met him last year, on the first day of the Festival. In fact, I was actually impressed to see him observing all the procedures to spot any issues that had to be solved.

What was most impressive, however, and something that I have never encountered to this day, despite having been organizing festivals since I was 15, is the fact that the Mayor considered any problems that arose to be ‘ours,’ meaning it was a common concerned that we had to resolve together.

Every other time, once the festival was over, we would get scolded about anything that did not run perfectly. Here, we have a Municipality that wants to collaborate with us to find solutions, because they recognize and appreciate our work and the way it can benefit the area.

 To party hard, first you need to know when and how to do it. Partying hard is a conscious choice made by people who also know very well how to manage the more serious aspects of their daily life. Alex is a living example of how a serious attitude does not necessarily mean a serious person, and how acting the fool does not mean real fun. 

Does the Municipality make any money from the festival?
MAYOR: The Municipality only receives the leasing rights for the area. This is why we provide services that are important for the festival, from traffic police to the electricity that a festival needs to run. This is something that the Festival does within the framework of rejuvenating the area, not in order to bring money into the Municipality.

Alex, do you make money from the festival?
Actually, the festival just barely covers its own costs and there were even some years when we had to pay out of pocket.

Loud Music Festival started with a 10-year plan, not to make money, but to develop this kind of entertainment on the island, similar to what so many countries abroad have to offer.

If we want to have these kinds of large events taking place and attract people’s attention, first we need to enable people to become familiar with the entire concept. For example, buying food and drinks with tokens, instead of money, or returning the beer bucket to the station in order to get free beer (because that way you are doing the job that a server would be doing).

Alex and his friends know from experience why these opportunities for having fun are important to everyone. They themselves spend their daily routines at work, with demanding responsibilities (Alex is, in fact, a busy lawyer), so the option of letting loose and having fun, in order to rejuvenate and carry on even stronger than before, is something that they need, too, just like everyone else.

Through these events, people start to get more demanding, though at the same time they value good work. As such, when the time comes for a great concert with an international artist from abroad at a properly-set up event, they will be fine with paying the ticket price. This is how you elevate the local entertainment.

How can a full-time lawyer also be an entertainment professional?
ALEX: Some may feel that it is incongruous to be both a lawyer and the organizer of a music festival.

In my opinion, it doesn’t matter what you do, but how you do it. I want to do everything the right way, be it in the office with my clients, or in the courtroom, or on the stage of LMF.

It is not easy to set up a festival like this and one needs to do it with the same responsibility as they would use to handle a legal case in the court. Of course, during the festival, we experience it fully. That is the time and place for us to have fun with all our heart and soul.

As a host, I am on the stage, creating a party atmosphere for everyone in the audience, and in this festive environment I will even pop some champagne bottles and spray them out onto the crowds.

This does not mean I am out of line. It is something that fits the particular environment and it works well within this framework. Nobody needs to get drunk, use drugs or lose control in order to have fun.

MAYOR: There is a false belief that, being responsible means that you don’t get to have fun. People think that having a good time means acting a fool. In fact, that is not the case, because you can actually have fun, without going overboard. This belief has begun to change, but we still have a long way to go.

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Maybe, after all, good ideas are a matter of chemistry between people. Perhaps open minds and positive people can simply communicate with each other more immediately and more effectively, for everyone’s benefit.

Loud Music Festival is not the only summer festival that takes place in Limassol, but it has already made its mark, just a year after its start in the city. The enthusiasm of its contributors is without doubt one of the reasons for its success. But, if you take a closer look, you will see that there is something more than enthusiasm: it is persistence, it is love for music, it is professionalism, it is a balance between being serious and having fun.

Limassol had always been the place for all the people who had these qualities and the organizers of the event saw how people responded to this festival right from the start, realizing that their efforts had been well-received. The fortunate coincidence is that, even before receiving people’s recognition, it had all the necessary support from the Municipality, which paved the way for such an event to take place, with all its vision and perspective for the future.

Find more about Loud Music Festival 2018 here.