Dreaming of a WKND … from idea to execution

Dreaming of a WKND … from idea to execution

Matthew Samuda shares the history as event celebrates 15 years

Dubbed the ‘weekend that never sleeps’, Dream WKND has, for over 14 years, delivered immaculately executed events each summer in the touristy town of Negril. The next staging of Dream WKND will be a celebration of its 15th anniversary, and promises to be a most exhilarating experience.

Dream WKND was birthed in 2009 through discussions between Matthew Samuda and PJ Wright, who both had competing events, ATI and RTI, happening at once. Through the realisation that their philosophy and future outlook for the entertainment industry were similar, both Samuda and Wright sought to bring on board the main players of Xtreme wet and wild and DayDreams, which now serve as the anchor for Dream WKND.

Our very first meeting comprised myself, PJ, and Solomon Sharpe. There were others who were invited and chose not to join. Notwithstanding, the group quickly expanded with all of the current directors being invited to join forces. The synergies and creative energies were great from the beginning, so it made for a seamless transition,’ stated Matthew Samuda, Dream WKND’s conceptualiser.

The team had a short operational window for the planning and initial execution of the festival, with a maximum of only five months working with. As a new event on the scene, the directors faced a myriad of difficulties. The ability to pull sponsors, along with convincing partygoers that Dream WKND would provide an equally good, if not better, experience than ATI are just two examples.

Samuda continued to say that, “The first staging was a sprint to the finish line. The biggest issue was convincing sponsors that were already in the space, that this new venture was viable, and that the parties individually had the pull. The second difficulty was overcoming the brand power and name recognition of ATI with partygoers. It had become a household name. Red Stripe rolled the dice with us in year one and the rest (and ATI) is history.”

Though their intention was to fully replace ATI, the directors were more focused on changing the entertainment landscape in Jamaica. Dream WKND’s debut included DayDreams, Xtreme Wet and Wild, Beer Vibes (now World Vibes), Twisted spirits, Yush and Absinthe & Xclusive.

Going into its 15th year of operations, Dream WKND is claiming the title as the premier entertainment tourism festival in the country and the Caribbean at large.

“I’ve seen where Dream has grown exponentially throughout the years, quite possibly three times the number of the first staging, so much so that I feel like a proud uncle. It is unprecedented for an entertainment provider to attain 15 years of service in Jamaica, so kudos to the Dream team that has worked tirelessly year after year to make this possible,” concluded Samuda.

In addition to Samuda’s statement, Dream WKND’s Festival Director Ron Burke alluded to the fact that throughout its many years in operation, Dream has garnered quite a number of international Dreamers. Noting this, the brand has expanded its offerings to its consumers in Europe and America, thus positioning itself as a major player in the global festival market.

“Following the success of Dream Weekend in Europe (Malta) last year, our plans for 2024 include several major events in the UK, Toronto and New York, while also expanding our Xodus brand in Miami Carnival and Cayman Islands Carnival through key strategic partnerships. We’ve also rolled out a significant subsidiary, Dream Solutions Limited, that will grow our execution capabilities for our events as well as corporate and private clients,” Burke explained.

Dream Entertainment still boasts its 11 founding members, with Yes Iyah joining as shareholders a bit later on. The brand of events for each staging changes yearly, based on keeping the brand fresh and exciting. Dream’s staple events are now Wet and Wild, Daydreams, Yush, World Vibes, Celebrity Playground, Igloo and Mawnin after; however, events are added, subtracted and switched around as necessary.

Kamal Bankay, chairman of Dream Entertainment, shared that “The Jamaica Tourist Board surveys indicate that Dream WKND contributes 4.3 billion in economic impact annually to Jamaica, making it the most economically impactful event for our country. Dream WKND has created a demand so compelling that many patrons’ first visit to Jamaica is specifically for this festival. Many people are of the notion that party promoting isn’t a business; however, the entertainment industry is a major industry globally, and one that the Government is serious about seeing grow. I congratulate the Dream team for staying the course, and I look forward to a spectacular staging in 2024.”

Tickets are now on sale for the August 2-6, 2024 staging.

Source: Dreaming of a WKND … from idea to execution

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