Reggae Sunsplash

A Brief Look Into Its History

Reggae Sunsplash a brief history on what is consider to be the first Reggae Festival of its kind.


The festival was the brainchild of four Jamaicans - Tony Johnson, Don Green, Ronnie Burke and John Wakeling. The four founding directors created a company called Synergy Productions Ltd, which was responsible for promoting and producing the festival.

Sunsplash first staging was in 1978 it was held at Jarrett Park, in Montego Bay, Jamaica. It ran annually until 1996, after a break in 1997, it was returned for its final event in 1998.

Fron 1978-1992 the festival was held in Montego Bay, the organizer decided to move the festival to Jamworld, Portmore, St Catherine in 1993 leaving a void for a festival of its kind in the western end of the island Jamaica.

That same year (1993) Say the birh of What is now the biggest reggae festival in the world Reggae Sumfest. Reggae Sumfest takes place each year in mid-July in Montego Bay at the Catherine Hall Entertainment center.

In 1997 festival was postponed until 1998 when it was timed to coincide with celebrations of the birth of Bob Marley but more losses were incurred. More futile attempts at recapturing the original spirit of the Reggae Sunsplash festival were never replicated by the Radobar group.

In 2006 the festival was re-established by the Johnson family, but it was not successful. It has not being held again since then.

Here are the DATES and Venues where Reggae Sunsplash used to be held:

1978: June 23-30, Jarrett Park, Montego Bay

1979: July 3-7, Jarrett Park, Montego Bay

1980: July 2-5, Ranny Williams Entertainment Center, Kingston

1981: August 4-8, Jarrett Park, Montego Bay

1982: August 3-7, Jarrett Park, Montego Bay

1983: June 28-July 2, Bob Marley Center, Montego Bay

1984: August 7-11, Jarrett Park, Montego Bay

1985: August 6-10, Jarrett Park, Montego Bay

1986: August 26-30: Jarrett Park, Montego Bay

1987: August 18-22, Bob Marley Center, Montego Bay

1988: August 15-22, Bob Marley Center, Montego Bay

1989: August 14-19, Bob Marley Center, Montego Bay

1990: July 16-21, Bob Marley Center, Montego Bay

1991: July 26-31, Bob Marley Center, Montego Bay

1992: August 3-8, Bob Marley Center, Montego Bay

1993: August 3-7, Jamworld, Portmore

1994: August 1-6: Jamworld, Portmore

1995: July 12-14, Dover, St. Ann

1996: August 1-4, Chukka Cove, St. Ann

1998: February 5-8, Reggae Park, St. Ann

2006: August 3-6, Richmond Estate, Priory, St. Ann

Two of the founding directors, John Wakeling and Tony Johnson died and with the passing of Tony Johnson a number of individuals have tried to claim the rights to the festival unsuccessfully and all have failed to recapture the spirit of the Sunsplash.

Don Green and Ronnie Burke are the two remaining Reggae Sunsplash founders alive (2012).



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