Solstice Festival encourages unity through music

Acacia Coronado

Fête de la Musique may have begun in France, but it has since become popularized as World Music Day, and on June 15–17, Austin will join with cities across the globe to celebrate the art of music. 

Solstice Festival co-founder Matt Ford said the event began as a technology company aimed at providing services for music festivals inspired them to create their own. Now, Solstice Festival has grown into multiple events around the Red River Entertainment District, a mass event at Pan Am park, and includes a combination of yoga, art and musical acts. 

“I kind of liked the idea of the whole world celebrating music together,” Ford said. “It is an opportunity to do something local but at the same time global.”

Ford said the event got its name after also taking place on the weekend of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. However, Ford said the primary purpose of the event was to bring the live music capitol of the world into the worldwide celebration of music. 

“There is a lot of cities around the world that are celebrating the solstice with music,” Ford said. “So, it started as us getting Austin participating in this celebration of the summer solstice with a music festival.”

CTO and UT alumnus Adrian Tavares said as for the music festival technology company that started it all, they began serving similar festivities and hope to continue to evolve as they expand their focus to music venues in addition to artists. 

“We started out with something called Solstice Live. It was like a matchmaking platform for local music,” Tavares said. “Kind of like a dating site but for venues and musicians in the local scene.” 

Tavares said their goal is to unite the Solstice technology company with the festival that carries its name and make them dependent on one another. 

“As our tech product develops, the festival will use our own tech platform to help manage the operations,” Tavares said. “Eventually they will rely on each other.” 

According to co-founder and UT alumnus Luis Zapata, the festival hopes to not only promote the art of music, but also provide a place to celebrate the diversity of the city at which it is celebrated and be an inclusive setting for its citizens. 

“We want to celebrate that we respect culture, we respect the arts and we want to celebrate peace, love, everything that makes humankind better,” Zapata said. “That is the whole vibe of this event.” 

Austin, Zapata said, seemed to be just the right fit for such a celebration as much as the festival appeared to match with the city’s culture. 

“I have always had the feeling that Austin is a very privileged city and what makes it so special is the people that live in Austin,” Zapata said. “(The city) always felt like we were trying to contribute in a very positive way to the world and therefore all of that high tech, art and music that we are able to celebrate and cultivate. So, when we found out it wasn’t part of this worldwide music celebration, it seemed to be a natural to be part of it.”

Zapata said the festival sets itself apart from other festivals not only in affordability, but in the higher purpose they hope to serve. 

“This festival, we are not only throwing a party,” Zapata said. “What we are trying to do is have a mission — celebrate everything that is positive in life. We need to look at the world not as isolating, we need to look at the world as one big creative planet.”