Portland, Maine to channel the spirit of Iceland Airwaves with music and beer festival ‘Sunaana’

Heating up for its second year in Portland, Maine will be Sunaana (an inuit word meaning “what is it”), a winter beer and music festival taking place across the enormous 30-acre Thompson’s Point and representing a surprising connection between the New England city and the Nordic country of Iceland. It was such a roaring success last year that the festival has now expanded to two days, perking interest from locals and visitors keen to dive deeper into Portland’s vibrant, and oft unexplored, cultural scene with a festival dedicated to the city’s identity.

Designed as a “discovery event”, Sunaana seems very much to be inspired by the legendary Iceland Airwaves which since debuting in Reykjavik back in 1999 has become one of the most revered showcases for new music in the world. It’s then no surprise to see a few Icelandic bands on the lineup this year, coupled with local artists as well as acts from across the USA. The result should be a lively and diverse platform for local and international live music, fueled by some of the best beer you can find in New England.

The festival is linking with local legends Bissell Brothers Brewing to handle the all-important craft beer lineup, which will include a dedicated food, drink and art precinct across the street from the Bissell Bros tap room in the newly restored Brick South venue on Thompson’s Point. There will also be a small number of additional sites nearby as Sunaana expand their reach and team up with more members of the community for the festival’s second addition. Around 18 different breweries will be represented at the festival.

The other important part of this equation is food. And seeing as Maine is one of the most famous places in the world when it comes to good, high-quality seafood (or just produce in general) we’re expecting some delicious comfort eats to come out of the festival as well, packed into Brick South with food pop-ups from Even Tide Oyster Co, Locally Sauced, Mr Tuna, Thirsty Pig, and more.

“When we launched Sunaana last year, our focus was on doing something wildly fun in the City of Portland at the coldest part of the New England winter”, said co-founder Patrick Arnold. “It’s amazing to us how vivid an experience can be when it’s enveloped by the cold. Our hope is that this event occupies space in people’s minds through the warmer days of spring, summer and fall and cements the belief that winter is epic”.

Embracing the cold, Sunaana should have plenty of ways for punters to wrap themselves in the city’s culture, anchored by the growing live music program which is centered firmly on the sense of discovering something new. You’re unlikely to be very familiar with the following bands, but as long as the curation is on point you can be sure the tunes will be varied and memorable.

Acts range from Philly’s Bel Heir and Iceland’s Ceasetone to Maine-based artists like Jeremiah Freed and King Kyote. You can find the full lineup below.

Considering Iceland Airwaves has grown to the point where it’s now pretty much a city-wide celebration, spanning numerous interconnected hubs and collaborations, we’re looking at something pretty damn exciting for the U.S city; one not many would expect a bustling hipster culture from. For full details on the festival head on over the their official website HERE.

If you happen to be over in the area across the weekend of March 2nd and 3rd (although it’s said that there’ll also be some food, bevvies and music around on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday) then grab some tickets from the link below and make sure you’re looking at the official visit Maine website so you can get the most of your visit.

Sunaana 2018

Axel Flovent
Bel Heir
Chris Ross and the North
Dreamer and Son
Five of the Eyes
Jeremiah Freed
JFDR (with Myro)
Joel Thetford
King Kyote
Lights for Landing
The American Classic
The Fifth Freedom
The Welterweights
The Western Den (with Myro)
Xander Nelson

Dates: Friday 2nd & Saturday 3rd March 2018
Tickets: HERE

Feature image by @jonathanlaurence.


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Chris Singh

Chris Singh is an Editor-At-Large at the AU review, loves writing about travel and hospitality, and is partial to a perfectly textured octopus. You can reach him on Instagram: @chrisdsingh.