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South Africa's 3 Most Rocking Festivals + A Bonus Party!

Daniel Neville

Christmas has given me some time to relax and think about the current Idea Bounty Brief.  Basically what Levi’s® are looking for are ideas to promote their brand at South African music festivals.

In order to help you along with your idea generation, I thought I'd give you some information about what South Africa’s best music festivals [in my humble opinion] have to offer the punters. I’ve also included festivals that the Levi’s® brand is already affiliated with. So without further ado I present: South Africa’s 3 Most Rocking Festivals + A Bonus Party!  Before we start  though, there are a few things to realise about festivals in South Africa.

A) They happen in arguably the most picturesque venues in the world, just take a look at the photo's below.
B) The music industry in South Africa is still very young and so are the festivals, never the less South Africa has some of the best festivals I’ve been to in the world!
C) Because the music industry is so young it results in an enormous range of music styles and as a consequence festival line ups are often very eclectic. 
D) South Africans party really hard!  

First up: Oppikoppi! - Levi’s® affiliated  

Oppikoppi, is a colloquial abbreviation of the Afrikaans phrase "op die koppie", which literally means "on the hill". The camping area is at the foot of a hill, on top of which is a stage and more importantly, a bar. The festival happens every year in August and there is also a smaller more intimate gathering on each Easter weekend in April, focusing mostly on rock and jazz. The main festival hosts a wide array of genres including: rock, punk, ska, folk, blues, drum ‘n bass, funk and kwaito. According to their organisers they have "rolled bakkies, burnt tents, driven over knees, slept in jails, slept outside jails and turned over several stones to make gigs and festivals work." 

As a result the festival is recognized as one of South Africa's best. There are loyal punters who make the trek every year and they even name each Oppikoppi. Some names include: 

  • 1998 - Bushveld Blast
  • 2004 - Bloed is dikker as soda water - 10th Birthday
  • 2007 - The way of the Dassie 

Check out Oppikoppi’s Google Earth community here.  

Rocking The Daisies - Levi’s® affiliated 

Rocking The Daisies is one of South Africa's younger festivals. Impeccable organisation (even after a severe lack of toilets during the 2008 event, which just shows the festivals growing popularity) has placed this Cape Town gem at the head of the pack.   Hosted for the last two years on Cloof wine estate - a nice two hour drive out of Cape Town - this three day festival offers loads of music, wine tasting, dams to swim in, shaded areas and camping next to vineyards. You could even stay in the tented Kreef Hotel!  

One of the things Rocking The Daises has got right is the music. I admit it’s a blur but I personally remember feeling like a true gypsy jamming to Toby Two Shoes on the Electronic Stage and getting pushed left and right while getting lost in the sounds of 7th Son, aKING and Goldfish. There was also a comedy stage during the day, very useful to help you regain your strength after the night before. 

Rocking the Daisies also looks after the environment, partnering with the Hemporium and Food and Trees For Africa, who handle the festivals carbon offsetting program.   

Splashy Fen 

Splashy Fen is South Africa’s longest-running and most renowned annual music festival. 2009 will be the festival’s 20th year of being the ultimate outdoor experience for music and nature lovers alike.  Splashy Fen has some the most devoted followers who make it their mission to get to the festival every year. I’ve even heard people say things like ” Splashy Fen is my Mecca”. Festival goers are also amongst the friendliest people I’ve met. It’s the kind of festival where your neighbor will cook you bacon and eggs in the morning just because he feels like it.  

 

The festival happens in the Southern Drakensburg Mountains, making it the most beautiful festival location in the country. The music at the festival used to focus on indigenous music styles like Mbaqanga, but in the past few years has broadened to include mainstream and alternative rock and pop, including some of the country's most popular current acts. 

Splashy Fen is my favorite festival by far, the way it has played a part in blending cultures and styles and fostering and feeling of shared co-existence has made it an important part of South Africa’s contemporary music culture.  

The Bonus Party - The Western Cape Trance Scene  

I couldn’t resist slipping trance parties into this list. Although strictly not music festivals they have gained a massive following over the last few years, especially in the Western Cape - having 5000 + people camping out for a weekend to listen to live trance DJ’s is no small thing. The scene has even spawned such sites as the 3am trance community.  South African Psy Trance (as it’s called) is a style that has unique characteristics of its own. Usually it’s more rhythmic with large percussion usage, it’s melodic and danceable yet keeps the nasty-like attitude, although it is highly influenced by tribal music. The parties take place in a variety of locations, always somewhere out in the open on a farm or camping area.  

During summer, peak season, there is a party less than two hours drive out of Cape Town every second weekend. It’s not unusual to get over 2000 people consistently at these parties. The parties are organised by labels, the biggest is Vortex who hold a massive four day party over new years that often has more than 5000 in attendance. My favorite parties are organised by Groovy Troopers, which has definitely become one of the parties I look forward to the most.  

I hope you enjoyed that list, the above are my personal favourites but there are many others to check out. If you need more inspiration check out Ram Fest, Woodstock, Up The Creek, Africa Burns and Uprisings.  

Good luck with the ideas!
 

Comments

Ninah on 06/03/2013

This list was so great, but it seems like most of the festivals are in March! I'm doing to be in South Africa June, July, & August and I'm DYING to attend a music festival (especially trance!) I'm from Canada so a little help planning would be much appreciated :)

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