Gosh, hasn't it been a while since we all got to unwind amongst our friends under the stars, as the pulsing beats of the latest bands teased our eardrums to oblivion?
With any luck we’ll get the chance to do this again soon, as we make slow but steady steps towards recovery thanks to the increasing availability of the vaccines. In fact a number of festivals are looking to take place this year - so if like me you’ve missed them I’m sure you’re waiting with indrawn breath for the official go ahead for these!
In case you're wondering (and you must be since you're reading this blog), festivals in Africa are pretty awesome. Over the years the continent has seen the likes of Michael Jackson, Oasis, U2, Wiz Khalifa, Foals, Elton John, Rihanna and more all grace it’s shores to share their greatest hits live with adoring fans under the beautiful rays of the African sun. And these festivals are increasingly pulling in a diverse international crowd, which isn't a surprise. I mean, what other trip could combine safaris, beautiful natural landmarks, glorious sunshine and your greatest bands all one?
If you’re one for festivals and you’re ready to embrace your next amazing adventure, here are 3 awesome festivals in Africa to check out this year or next:
Mawazine (meaning "rhythms of the world") is a Moroccan International music festival held annually in Rabat, Morocco that has been going on since 2001.
It’s popularity knows no bounds, reaching attendees of 2.5 million people in 2013. Artists of all sorts have graces it stages; from the likes Rod Steward to Kanye, Maroon 5, Usher, Akon, Pit Bull, Mariah Carey and even the great Whitney Houston (boy would I have loved to see that!) Expect unforgettable concerts from phenomenal bands all set in the backdrop of the beautiful Rabat and it’s sister city Sale. Given it's size the festival has no less than 8 different stages and offers 8 wonderful days of non stop entertainment. This is certainly one to watch for the music lovers.
The festival also presents an opportunity to explore the historic coast city of Rabat—which was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012 for its many 12th-century buildings and it’s Islamic and French-colonial heritage, including the Kasbah of the Udayas. This Berber-era royal fort is surrounded by formal French-designed gardens and overlooks the ocean. It’s also worth mentioning the city's iconic Hassan Tower, a 12th-century minaret, which soars above the ruins of a mosque.
Lake of Stars, Malawi
This amazing festival usually takes place every September besides the sun kissed sandy shores and crisp waters of the ocean-like Lake Malawi, an incredible location for an awe-inspiring Afro-pop music and arts festival. Ticket holders can expect to dance all day and night to a diverse array of performers from all parts of the globe including local musicians and recognized DJs.
Lake of Stars usually lasts for 3 days and welcomes hundreds of performers. If you are open minded about the unfamiliar acts, you’ll be rewarded with eye-opening new African music, poetry, workshops and short films. And for those who like their comfort, rest assure the festival comes with electricity, showers and proper toilets - woohoo!
Not to forget while you're there, you’ll be spoiled by an endless list of things to do in Malawi - check out our recommendations here.
Cape Town International Jazz Festival – Cape Town, South Africa
Ahhh how could we forget South Africa. Given the impressive number of festivals that take place here every year it couldn’t escape our list. We had loads to choose from, in the end we decided to go with The Cape Town International Jazz Festival to offer a new genre of music. This annual music festival is usually held in Cape Town in the first half of the year. Recognized as the fourth largest jazz festival in the world, it is also the largest jazz festival on the African continent.
The festival attracts over 35,000 people every year who come to see live performances from over forty international and African artists, across 5 different stages in 2 days.
This phenomenal event takes place at the foot of the Table Mountain, which make it worth the trip for the views alone. And South Africa of course offers much to the visitor, from vineyard tours to safaris, beaches and more. One that should be on your list.
And here's a bonus tip ... Afrochella, Ghana
I know we said 3 but there's just so much choice I had to squeeze one more in there. Ghana is closely following South Africa's footsteps with a rich plethora of festivals worth checking out every year. This time we’ll be focusing on Afrochella, Africa's answer to Chochella, which usually takes place between Christmas and New Year.
Afrochella celebrates the continent's diverse culture and the glowing work of African creatives and entrepreneurs. This one day festival attracts 10,000 visitors every year from all over the world to learn about African culture, interact with people of all backgrounds and absorb top notch African music from the likes of Afro beats pioneers like Wande Coal. And charity is a big part of Afrocahella, with the organisation investing in food trucks to deliver free meals to poor communities across Ghana.
Did I mention that Ghana made CNN's list of top places to visit in Africa this year? Here’s why
So if music and adventure are your thing, be sure to check these out - and see do some more digging to see what else is there - these examples of just the tip of the iceberg.
Ready to go on a trip? Here’s a list of things you need to bring