“We have always focused on giving our festival a unique identity,” Montse Castera, creative director of Ceremonia Festival in Mexico City, tells Remezcla. Since its first edition in 2013, the festival has stood out for its eclectic yet youthful and daring lineups, as well as its carefully curated vibe. This year’s edition boasts a lineup that includes C. Tangana, Wu-Tang Clan, Natanael Cano, Nicki Nicole, Arca, and many more, giving their tendency to shift towards Latine avant-pop in all its variants. We talked to Castera to learn what it’s like to organize such a wide-ranging and exciting festival.
“The Ceremonia [lineup] is like a snapshot of the year in question, not just in terms of music, but of what’s happening in the world,” she says. “When we come up with the lineup for the festival, we try to be a little ahead of the curve. Making a lineup is challenging, especially after the pandemic. Normally, we plan each lineup three years in advance, but then we find out that certain artists are not touring yet or are way more expensive than they used to be, or logistically it’s impossible for them to come to Mexico. We were even nervous about Rihanna giving birth around the time of the festival [her partner, A$AP Rocky, is one of this year’s headliners].”
The 2022 edition will be the first time Ceremonia will take place in Mexico City after leaving its home of Toluca, Mexico State. As Castera tells us, CDMX has always been the festival’s spiritual home, and the move seemed logical. Castera says they have “gained more than we have lost.” She recounts how it made sense logistically since artists have always lodged in Mexico City, and the festival providers are usually found there. It also proves a benefit for fans now that they won’t have to take the two hours-long drive to Toluca from Mexico City and back.
For Ceremonia, its social platform has always been critical — a conscious effort to bring change in small and big ways. Ceremonia Social boasts HIV testing on the festival grounds and hosts professionals who provide free chemical analyses for drugs. On a bigger scale, Ceremonia now features a lineup consisting of 50 percent women, as well as a strong queer and non-binary presence. The festival is also one of the two worldwide that works with the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals Fund to become a more eco-friendly event.
Putting on a festival is hard work, but the COVID-19 pandemic has turned everything on its head. The changes the pandemic brought are numerous, yet the team behind Ceremonia is embracing the challenges. “It’s very emotional for us,” Castera admits. “There’s a lot of passion behind a festival. It was very exciting, and we’re very happy about coming back. We’re adapting to this new life, and everything feels amazing.”
Castera and the team behind Ceremonia are looking forward to April 2, when new and old generations will gather again to enjoy the best Ceremonia has to offer. She says, “After two years spent inside, I know people are eager to get out and dance and have a great time. Personally, I want to see what the buena onda people are up to in 2022. I want us to catch up with each other.”