With events to rival America and Europe, Africa is now drawing music festival fiends in their thousands. Harriet Constable finds out more.
Demand worldwide for music festivals shows no signs of slowing, and Africa – home to the most diverse cultures, sounds and achingly beautiful locations on earth – is starting to host some of the most exciting festivals on offer.
Even though festival-lovers nowadays have options galore, the big international events still hog a lot of the limelight. Hip Californian festival Coachella, for instance, has been attracting an international crowd keen to flaunt their fringing to the Empire Polo Club since 1999.
Similarly, Burning Man has created one heck of a dent in the festival scene since its small beginnings on San Francisco’s Baker Beach. Last year the event attracted 69,613 ‘citizens’ to experience its ‘culture of possibility’ in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.
Stanley Odd / KB Mpofu / Image courtesy of Lake of Stars Arts Festival, Malawi
Sure, these belly button brandishing, crowd surfing, hippy havens have their place. But hop over to Africa and you’ll find a burgeoning festival scene that’s still relatively raw. It’s like discovering a secret rooftop bar that only you and a couple of pals know about.
From steam train parties through Botswana, to DJ dance sessions in the middle of a national park, sunset celebrations over Malawi’s gigantic lake and sunrise sets on Zanzibar’s beach, Africa has well and truly joined the party.
These events have everything you’d expect from a big international festival: incredible settings, bags of atmosphere and internationally renowned artists. But they’re also lesser known, lesser commercialised and – this is a big ’un –incredibly cheap when compared to their western counterparts.
These are some of the highlights.