Home to such a diverse continent of cultures, sounds, and breathtaking landscapes – Africa plays host to some of the most epic festivals that rival its European and American counterparts. From secret train parties inside National Parks to artists performing in trees and the world’s 4th largest jazz festival – Africa is proving that is much more than its safari destination moniker.
So take advantage of those last minute travel deals to the continent and experience one of these amazing African music festivals!
1. OppiKoppi – South Africa
Founded in 1994, OppiKoppi is one of the longest running festivals in South Africa. If you like your music festivals loud, dirty, and packed with quality local and international acts – this is the festival for you.
Every year in August, festival goers make the pilgrimage from all over the country to the dusty plains of Northam, Limpopo, where the usually quiet OppiKoppi farm comes alive for three days of musical debauchery.
While you will be coughing up dust for weeks after the festival, by the end of the weekend you will be chanting ‘in dust, we trust’ loudly with the best of them.
When: 4 – 5 August 2017
2. STRAB – Mozambique
Calling all scuba diving enthusiasts and music lovers! STRAB (short for Subterranean Rhythm & Blues) is a music festival that takes place on the pristine shoreline of Ponta Malongane, Mozambique. Currently, in its 13th year, the festival caps attendance at 1000 people, making tickets sell out in a couple of hours after release.
Besides a fantastic line up of African artists, the festival also runs scuba diving trips during the day. Known for its abundance of megafauna such as whale sharks and humpback whales, Mozambique is an incredible diving destination.
If you are looking for an intimate music festival with an underwater adventure twist, this is one festival that cannot be missed!
When: 24 – 28th May 2017
3. Vic Falls Carnival – Zimbabwe
Want to combine your New Year celebrations with a dash of adventure in the Heart of Africa? Look no further.
Zimbabwe’s Vic Falls Carnival is the largest cultural infusion of Southern Africa’s musical talent featuring artists from Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, and Namibia.
The festival is a three-day celebration with parties happening in different locations every day. The most notable being the party steam train that whisks festival goers off to a secret location in the middle of a national park.
Ticket holders are also in walking distance to one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites – the thundering Victoria Falls. Plus, you can arrange mind blowing adventure activities on the mighty Zambezi during the day – making this truly an adventure travel music festival that is in a league of it own.
When: 29 – 31st of December 2017
4. Lake of Stars – Malawi
You know you are in for something special when you attend a festival that has been called “the world’s most spectacular music festival.” Lake of Stars has been delighting music enthusiasts for the last ten years, with performers known to play their sets from trees or the minister of tourism skydiving into the festival.
Set on the shores of one of Africa’s largest lakes, this 3-day festival is basically a beach party with one incredible soundtrack. Despite its huge reputation and popularity, Lake of Stars is still an intimate event with attendees under 5000.
When: TBA (usually end of September)
5. AfrikaBurn – South Africa
If you are an avid Burning Man fan or if you feel the festival has lost its authentic appeal, head to Africa and experience their version in the heart of an arid semi-desert in the Northern Cape. AfrikaBurn follows the same principles of self-reliance, community, and leaving no trace. Plus, it is about an eighth cheaper than its American counterpart.
This year’s theme is “Play” so let your imagination run wild! If you are a first timer, you can check out their detailed survival guide on the official website as well as more information about registering your camp and joining in on the fun.
When: 24 – 30 April 2017
6. Cape Town International Jazz Festival
Not only is the Cape Town International Jazz Festival the fourth largest jazz festival in the world, but it is the biggest music event that takes place in sub-Saharan Africa. Founded in 2000, it is a 2-day extravaganza that takes place in the heart of Cape Town’s CBD and attracts crowds of 37 000 people.
With just over 40 international and local artists performing across the five stages, it is little wonder that this festival is dubbed “Africa’s Grandest Gathering”. If you are a jazz lover, this is one event not to be missed! Tickets sell out fast so be sure to put this festival into your diary.
When: 31st of March – 1st April 2017
7. Bushfire Festival – Swaziland
Swaziland may be the smallest country in the southern hemisphere – but it packs a punch when it comes to throwing festivals. Each year, the Bushfire Festival attracts over 20 000 attendees by asking them to “Bring The Fire” to the beautiful surroundings of the Ezulwini Valley.
It is the perfect festival for world music lovers and those that want to get away from the party animal hordes. Bushfire is one of the few festivals in the region that donates some of its profits to local charities – so if you are looking to give back at the same time add this one straight to your bucket list.
With that being said, Bushfire is one of the most popular festivals in the region, selling out four years in a row so make sure you get your tickets early.
When: 26 – 28 May 2017
If one festival is not enough for you, BushFire has teamed up with a host of other African music festivals during the month of May to bring you a festival tour called FireFest! Who wouldn’t want to backpack around Africa hopping from one festival to the next?
So what are you waiting for? Book those plane tickets, grab your travel buddy and experience some of the continent’s hottest music festivals! Who knows, you might even discover a new favorite band.