About This Festival
Tortuga Music Festival kicked off in South Florida in 2013, the brainstorm of music executive Chris Stacey. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, Stacey wanted to bring a large musical event on the level of Coachella to the Sunshine State to help raise awareness for one of his favorite cause’s, marine life conservation, through his non-profit, Rock the Ocean. In collaboration with renowned marine wildlife artist Guy Harvey, this festival features two days of musical acts—heavy on country music, with a dabbling of rock and roots—and a conservation village that aims to educate attendees on the plights of the world’s ocean and sea life. It’s a quintessential beach party with an important message at its heart. You can swim in the warm Atlantic (and learn how to save it), throw a Frisbee, drink a few brews and listen to some good ol’ boys (and girls). It’s the polar opposite of Ultra, the huge EDM festival that happens just down the coast in Miami.
A Dedicated Following
In the 2015 event, its third year, attendance reached 44,000 patrons and advanced tickets sold out before the lineup was even announced. The festival expanded to three days for 2016. Past and future headliners included are country superstar Kenny Chesney, Zac Brown Band, Sheryl Crowe, Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw, Lynyrd Skynyrd (‘What song is it you wanna hear?”), Ziggy Marley, Dierks Bentley, Eric Church, Hank Williams Jr., and Ben Harper.
The Origins of the Turtle
Tortuga is Spanish for “turtle,” a reminder of why the festival exists. The centerpiece of the event is the Conservation Village, which features interactive displays, academic experts from southern Florida universities, tech entrepreneurs, cooking demonstrations on how to catch and prepare invasive species, and more. Patrons are encouraged to take a trash bag and clean the beach while there: each filled bag earns a free t-shirt.
The genius behind the village is Guy Harvey, an artist, conservationist, marine biologist, and founder of the eponymous Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation. A Brit born in Germany in 1953, Harvey spent his childhood growing up in Jamaica, surrounded by the Caribbean wilderness that would become his life’s passion. His parents were avid sports fishers and Harvey dreamed of the day he, too, could hook a blue marlin like his parents did (he eventually would at the age of 20). As a teen, he attended boarding school in the UK, passing his time by drawing pictures of the sea life he missed back home. He later earned a PhD in marine biology and has used his keen scientific understanding of life under the waves to beautifully render sea creatures (one of his paintings was used as the cover of a reissue of Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea).
Conservation Through Festivities
He straddles the world between art and science, and, as an avid scuba diver, uses his talents not only for drawings and paintings, but also for underwater documentary filmmaking. It’s his passion that fuels the Conservation Village at Tortuga Music Festival, focusing on three main causes: rescuing sea turtles and protecting their nesting habitats, raising awareness of the decimation of the world shark population (a violent, but necessary predator), and saving the world’s declining coral reefs.