Music Festivals are one of those young experiences everyone should experience regularly. Varsity or not. With a selection of festivals you will find similarities among them, but don’t think the one will be like the other. Each in their own way, music festivals grant us chance to escape, kick up some dust, lazing on green grass alongside a lake, a gap to freak out, lose your senses, all that fun stuff. Whether you are looking for an acoustic scene in a bean bag paddock, or under a thorn tree, or spilling on beer tables, maybe even moshing at midnight, you will find it all real close to home.
So let’s get down to it, the top 5 Music Festivals around Johannesburg
The legendary festival of dust. The hot, dry and fantastic festival has grown from 1994 to become one of SA’s biggest music festivals. When I say big, think hoards of crowds and tents. expect to get lost often. World class performances across 5 stages, the energy of the festival is that of the crazy and the absurd. The frantic chaos will get your mind off the cold nights as you relish your dust skinned beer in the hot sun, yelling to the likes of Johnny Clegg or Wolfmother, the bass beats on the hill to a uniquely South African music festival you will have to experience to fully understand.
- Location: Northam | Limpopo
- Time of Year: Large in Easter | Massive in August
- Avg Ticket Prices: R700
- Days of Festival: 4
- Festival Fun-dial:
Electric, frantic, Huge explosive crowds in the evenings, massive sound and lights. Something to behold. Chilly morning bedtime winds will not be kind to the unprepared, but the day will hotten up soon enough, but expect to find tons to do during the day, plenty of shade, plenty of goings-ons all around with acts burning through the line up like a bushfire. You will be entertained.
- Music Genres:
Boasting a huge line-up range of artists, you will have your time eaten away trying to catch all your favourite acts. OppiKoppi will rock you first and foremost. It gets wild!
- Food, Drink and Shopping:
South African farm-style cooking, wide variety of taste pleasers from across the globe. You won’t go hungry. Food stalls and trucks are numerous and plenty for this large event. You will find choices from Chinese takeaways to Mexican cuisine. Numerous beer tents and bars.
The merchant tent will have hoodies, shirts, albums, and all sorts of paraphernalia.
- Accommodation and Ablutions:
Camping is on hard dry soil between “haak-en-steek”, directly translating to ‘Hook and Stab’ thorn bushes. Fear the dust, love your sinuses? You will also have the opportunity to book a pre pitched tent in the motel like camping area. The dust always gets you. Port-to-Loo’s at entrances are chaotic, but there are many, and limited shower facilities, but expect long queues and to plan to stay clean is futile. As the saying goes, “In dust we trust.”
African bush. Dust. Cuts and scratches. The brave go barefeet. Long walks on hills, and a suburbia of comically named dirt roads in the general campsite, will eventually get you where you want to go. Expect heavy traffic going or leaving this festival.
Splashy Fen is a long running, where you will only find loyal and loving participants of this gorgeous country sides, only large music festival. A more family friendly feel, with a cool mountain stream for short dips and camping. With a big main stage, EDM tent for the dancers, and Sedgwick’s tent will have a been bag for weary folk and some sherry in a cup. Take in the sun and the green valleys while it lasts, for if it rains, you will find out why they call it “Splashy’. *laughs* More like ‘Swampy.”
- Location: Underberg | KwaZulu-Natal
- Time of Year: Easter Weekend
- Avg Ticket Prices: R650
- Days of Festival: 4
- Festival Fun-Dial: Friendly, welcoming and loads of fun in this stream side farmer hippie market meets barnyard beer casualties.
- Music Genres: Acoustic, slow rock, folk, dance, loads of local legends and favourites.
- Food, Drink and Shopping: Potjiekos, takeaways, food trucks/food stalls, eastern cuisines, Sedgwick’s Old brown Sherry tent, large beer tent and a travelling red bull bar normal sets up shop next to the stream during the day. You will also find a variety of curio and clothing shops and a few selections of craft beers on tap.
- Accommodation and Ablutions: General camping on green sloped fields, a camping motel is available. Port-to-loos are clean and well maintained, free hot and cold showers.
- Environment: If it rains it pours,is really applicable here. You won’t mind too much as the setting for Splashy Fen is picturesque. Rolling green hills, rocky mountains, clear streams winding between dense forest outcroppings and large farms. If you get the opportunity to take the helicopter ride, it’s worth it. Dodgy, but I still went 3 times.
WhiteMountain is the smaller, lakeside riviera music festival. You will succumb to the slower pace of this land. Expect to find yourself next to one of the three communal bonfires enjoying a more relaxed evening under the stars and smaller crowds. If you so choose, there are more night-time facilities for the energetic and the tired, which White Mountain caters for with ease.
- Location: Estcourt | KwaZulu-Natal
- Time of Year: Sept/Oct
- Avg Ticket Prices: R600
- Days of Festival: 3 Days
- Festival Fun-Dial: Lazy sunday on the lake, weekend recluse, family festival.
- Music Genres: Acoustic and Folk
- Food, Drink and Shopping: Take-aways, food trucks/stalls, rotisseries, assortment of curio and clothing stores. Beer tent.
- Accommodation and Ablutions: General camping on a contoured grass hill and newly built chalets.
- Environment: Quiet forest lake, gentle people and easy going folk. Lots of fun to be had if you are of the more relaxed soul.
MieliePop is a real South African special, with 3 music stages. The floating music barge doesn’t count. MieliePop always impress with their local South African artists, while blowing our minds on one unique international act. This festival is also home to an actual rave cave, between feeling like you’re gently rolling under Willow trees down stream, to having a bare foot party on the greenest grass, or dancing the night away in a cave. The river and nearby lake will have you exploring for hours as you take in the magic that is MieliePop.
- Location: Lothair | Mpumalanga
- Time of Year: March
- Avg Ticket Prices: R650
- Days of Festival: 3 Days
- Festival Fun-Dial: The day will bring river activities and swimming. The green grass will have picnics up soon enough and they make way for the small crazy crowd for when the shows starts. Always going down smoothly, the venue makes you wonder if nature planned this spot. Wow.
- Music Genres: Folk, acoustic, rock and dance.
- Food and drink: Takeaways, food trucks/stalls, rotisseries, assortment of curio and clothing stores. Beer tent.
- Accommodation and Ablutions: River side camping and chalets. Newly built permanent toilet and hot shower facilities.
- Environment: The river, the willow trees, the cave, waterfall rock outcroppings and nearby forests make this small festival hum with magical properties. There are no bad times to be had here.
Held once a month at the Voortrekker Monument, never failing, always entertaining. Park Acoustics is always a good idea, and you should know about it. Park Acoustics costs a Sunday, takes you to a old military fort on a hill, returning you with the satisfaction that in a mere 8 hours you will be properly spent. From dancing on the stage, to cat-naps in the shade, chasing autographs from our best local South African artists, sundowner comedy shows, exploring heritage and historical monuments, merchant tents, food stalls, bus rides and great music with a fantastic bunch of people know as our fellow South Africans. Park Acoustics is more than a music shindig, it’s a movie trailer to the best days of your life.
- Location: Pretoria | Gauteng
- Time of Year: Last week of every month
- Avg Ticket Prices: R120- R150
- Days of Festival: 1
- Festival Fun-Dial: Classic fun in the sun! With grand views of Pretoria and The Voortrekker Monument. With such history enveloping the fort, sitting under the tree is privilege.
- Music Genres: Folk, acoustic, rock and blues.
- Food and drink:Takeaways, food stalls, merchant tent, bar.
- Ablutions: There are toilet facilities available.
- Environment: It’s a beautiful place filled with history. 360 degree views will have you in awe momentarily, there is just too much fun to be had. Depending on the fame of the artists, the event will either be held on Monument Hill or at the foot of the hill for larger crowds.
Well there you have the top 5 music festivals around Johannesburg. All of these amazing and unique festivals have a charm and energy of their own. A worthy experience to have.
Thanks to our guest writer, Mr Ben-Stefan Gericke