(SNO) — After five years, Mercury Beach — not to be confused with Mercury Fest Saint Lucia — is back in Martinique.
Some 5,000 people and nearly 600 boats are expected to attend the two-day event which kicks off tonight (July 27) on Grand Anse beach in the city of Anses d’Arlet.
But reports from the neighbouring French island indicate that security arrangements for the event are extremely tight.
According to Martinique 1ere, organisers have invested between 150,000 and 200,000 euros in security after a “getaway” in Saint Lucia. Reports tout “exceptional safety device on land and sea”.
Security is so strict that persons have been forbidden to park in the village and “deviations are put in place” since Thursday evening (July 26).
The big day for Mercury Beach (Saturday, July 28) will see even tighter security.
Reports state that the entire area of Grande Anse will be “declared pedestrian zone” where 5,000 people are expected.
“The organization of the security on land is rigorous, at sea also, because between 450 to 600 boats are expected on the water. The helicopter of the gendarmerie will also be present, alcohol checks will be announced,” Martinique 1ere reports.
Well, organisers did not have much choice when negotiating to host the event at Grand Anse.
Some several thousand signatures were garnered in a petition against hosting the event there. The advocates who launched the petition argued that they were concerned about the negative impact the event will have on wildlife and the environment, as well as security concerns.
However, the authorities still granted the green light to the organisers providing they abide by the stipulated rules: heightened security and safeguarding the environment.
And that came at a high cost: up to 200,000 euros for security alone.
However, news earlier this year that the event had returned to Martinique was well received by many residents and citizens of Martinique because of the economic value of the event, according to French media reports.
Martinique last hosted the event in July 2013 on a beach in Sainte-Anne. Pigeon Island, Saint Lucia hosted the following four editions.
“This great return to Martinique soil was highly anticipated,” stated one French publication.
Another described it as a “long-awaited event” by nationals of Martinique.
Saint Lucia failed to secure the event this time around due to a reported fallout between an organiser and the authorities.
As such, Saint Lucia has created its own ‘Mercury Fest’ — which like the ‘Beach version’ — will be held over two days.
The event was launched in Martinique on July 10. Eight days later, it was launched on Saint Lucia.
Director of Epic Events, Sheldon Michel, speaking at the Saint Lucia launch, said Mercury Fest kicks off with on August 10 with the Friday night street party in Gros Islet, which noted “continues to be a top attraction to visitors”.
“From 8 p.m. on August 10, persons will be encouraged to enjoy the culinary delights and local entertainment in Gros Islet, prior to the party being moved to Pigeon Island with a performance by French superstar, Kalash.
“Then from 9 a.m. on August 11, the ultimate beach party with performances by the very best Saint Lucian deejays and artistes, Martinique’s top deejays and Jamaica’s dancehall superstar, Popcaan,” Michel said.
The authorities are very upbeat about the hosting of the event in Saint Lucia which is also targeting the French Caribbean market.
One local tourism official said a lot of hotels in Gros Islet have seen increased bookings for the August 10-11, 2018 event. At least one hotel is reportedly fully booked for the event.