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Sea.Hear.Now in Asbury Park, NJ was definitely one of the best festivals we have attended which was a little surprising considering this was its inaugural year. First and foremost the line up was insane with Incubus and Jack Johnson headlining. But the festival was so much more than music, it also included an emphasis on art and surf. We really enjoyed browsing the art gallery (you could buy pieces by Brandon Boyd, Jack Johnson, etc!!) and the daily surf competitions were awesome to watch.
The festival was spread out between three stages, two on the beach, one in the park. The festival area was huge so overcrowding wasn’t an issue, but it wasn’t so big that you couldn’t make it from one stage to another without missing the next set. No matter where you were, you were always close to food, drinks, and bathrooms. The best part was there was no such thing as a bad view because you could watch the beach stages from either the sand or the boardwalk.
Sea.Hear.Now was really family friendly (kids 7 and under were free with a paying adult!). There was a lot of room for the kids to run around and lots to keep them busy. There was a really chill, happy vibe both days. Kids and adults alike were having a great time! There was also a TON of security which is comforting when for attending with little ones.
Something that really stood out was how CLEAN everything was. A lot of that had to do with one of my favorite aspects of the festival, the emphasis on the importance of recycling and keeping our beaches and oceans clean! Though ‘Rock & Recycle’ was a prominent theme, there were lots of great causes supporting and being supported by the festival. Sea.Hear.Now proudly advertises that they not only provide music, but facilitate raising awareness and participation of fans to make a positive contribution to the world around them. You can check out Sea.Hear.Now online to learn about what adaptive surfing is doing for Veterans, Active Duty Troops, and individuals with special needs with Operation Beachhead, register to vote and sign up for election alerts with HeadCount, support the local ecosystem with Save Barnegat Bay, obtain resources for domestic and sexual violence or harassment through 180 Turning Lives Around, and get information and sign up to participate in an Equality Walk through Garden State Equality. Behind the scenes, MusiCares was on-site providing support and services to the music community. Attendees could get involved beyond the music by visiting the non-profit area at Bradley Park.
Another huge bonus is that we were allowed to leave the festival and re-enter (up to 3 times per day). There were plenty of food, beer, and cocktail trucks, but this freedom is a great option for families! Bags were handed out to collect recycling, and if you turned in a full bag, you got a free T-shirt. What an awesome idea to raise awareness and to make sure the festival was free of trash. I also loved that there were Hydration Stations, a place to refill your reusable water bottles for free, good for the ocean and your wallet!
All the bands started on time and the whole festival was simply run really, really well. Sea.Hear.Now is great festival for families who appreciate the additional art, sport and conservation aspects. It would make for a great weekend getaway with a group of friends or a family mini-vacation. Asbury Park is about 3.5 hours from DC. Make sure you book your hotel or Airbnb as early as possible because they will fill up quickly!