Jammin' gospel festival comes to Ocho Rios

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NEW YORK -- Jamaica, whose popular spring break destinations of Negril and Montego Bay attract students in search of parties, is turning a wholesome new leaf in Ocho Rios this year with a Christian music festival for spring breakers.

The first Fun in the Son Gospel Festival will take place weekends from March 7 through 25, according to Frances Yeo, general manager for events with the Jamaica Tourist Board.

"The festival will be a mix of musical styles, including gospel and rock, but the core is reggae music," Yeo said.

The event will be promoted by church groups, college radio stations and newspapers in Atlanta, Florida, Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia.

The Fun in the Son concerts will be held at Ocho Rios' cruise-ship pier.

In contrast to Negril, Yeo said, "Ocho Rios has more midsize hotels, but it's not very much of a live music or bar-hopping kind of town right now."

But that will change somewhat with the opening in February of Island Village, a four-acre entertainment and retail attraction featuring Jamaican music, cuisine and culture.

The festival is sponsored by Air Jamaica with the support of Ocho Rios hoteliers.

The Jamaica Tourist Board said it expects the festival to draw approximately 1,000 visitors each weekend.

For information on the Fun in the Son festival, contact the Jamaica Tourist Board at (800) 233-4582 or e-mail: [email protected]. For festival packages, contact Sunburst Holidays at (800) SUNBURST, or JRS/Jamaica Vacations at (800) JAMAICA.

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