There are a few aspects to take into consideration when creating a top 7 list of music festivals around the country. While attendance, revenue, and scale of the line-ups are good points to check if a festival is successful on paper or not; there are a few more important points to consider when assessing within such a broad spectrum. Things like, overall vibe/energy of the festival, musical fluidity throughout the festival and lasting impressions, are what really sets a festival apart from the rest. Taking this into consideration, we have tallied up the seven best festivals in South Africa.
via Derius Erasmus
Over 22 years, Oppikoppi has become one of the most loved festivals in SA, attracting jollers from all over South Africa and abroad for a 3-day hustle in the dusty, desolate regions of Northam, Limpopo. Covering a wide-range of genres i.e. rock, indie, pop, country and everything electronic, 'Oppi' brings a unique aspect to the festival experience. Although it might seem like you're in the desert, the well-catered area around the Kop will feed your every fantasy and with quality live acts across seven stages (and a few mobile ones) Koppi's eccentric, nomad energy is second to none. The "burn" without the burn.
Rocking The Daisies
For the best vibes Spring has to offer, Rocking The Daisies has become the go-to festival for all the cool kids to go to. Boasting a massive main stage that has hosted Milky Chance, The Cat Empire, The Kooks and many more, RTD has become known for catering to the more alternative folk and rock sounds that many hipsters and millennials would be keen to experience live. While the electronic dome in no way measures up to the main stage line-ups, effective curation of South Africa's best electronic acts adds a much-needed body workout element to the mix.
via Mik Motola
Richie Hawtin, Goldie, Noisia, DJ Jazzy Jay, Four Tet, Branko, Mr Carmack and Octave One are just a few of the names who have graced the lineup of Cape Town's most inclusive underground music festival, CTEMF. With music and heritage as their prime focus, the brand has become a staple over the five years the festival has been running and have made a significant impact on the scene since it's inception. Exploring beautiful locations within the city; the festival has already given patrons the best views of Cape Town and has finally landed at the heart of the city, Cape Town City Hall.
Theewaterskloof Dam is a stunning sight to behold; nestled between mountains and nature reserves the area has an undeniable tranquillity to it. But once a year, the scenery becomes host to one of South Africa's longest running festivals, Synergy Live. Previous headliners of this festival include The Prodigy, Flux Pavilion, Egbert, Stimming and Crystal Castles. What is most notable about this festival is how the immense dam brings a light-hearted beach party feel to the proceedings. Whether you're stomping away to techno in the ERA tent, or merely just laying in the grass watching the stars; there's a sense of finding your place in the world at this beauty of a festival.
Africa's Burning Man has become a must-attend event of the party calendar. As much as this festival is set out for one to have a good time, there's also a fair bit of survival and responsibility to your fellow man involved. The non-profit organisation relies on its volunteers to help organise and execute the various production sites on the Tankwa, Karoo plain. The festival has grown immensely over the past nine years, starting at 1,000 patrons in 2007 and increasing to 11,600 in 2016. Freedom of expression is the primary focus and participants are allowed to express themselves in whatever way the want to, whether it be painting, playing music or dancing; in extraordinary costumes, or in nothing at all.
Cape Town International Jazz Festival
It might not have a major presence in the electronic music scene but "Africa's Grandest Gathering", Cape Town International Jazz Festival is one of the top 300 festivals in the world. Hosting legendary bands and artists such as Level 42, Shakatak, Erykah Badu, Al Jarreau and Angie Stone, the CTIJF is one of the must-attend events on the international jazz music calendar and attracts thousands of patrons from around the world every year.
For 26 years, Splashy Fen has maintained its position as one South Africa's favourite festivals, boasting an almost entirely local lineup year in and year out. The mellow and chilled-out vibe at Splashy make it a fun and refreshing experience for anyone looking for musical stimulation, including children under the age of 12. Birthed from a discussion over dinner and wine, the Splashy Fen Farm morphed into a collection of natural amphitheatres, powered by a tractor generator. Since 1990, the ultimate outdoor festival has become one of the most integral parts of the South African music scene.
[Image by: Derius Erasmus]