There is no question that Africa is a hub for culture and arts – it’s music being a big part of it! In the past decades, the music festival culture has grown and every year, hundredths of music festivals for both locals and travelers are held in the continent. Here is my pick of the coolest festivals in East and southern Africa that are worth considering planning an entire trip around.
AFRIKA BURN, SOUTH AFRICA
An official Burning Man branch, adhering to its original ten principles. It’s held in the Tangwa Karoo and, like Burning Man, it features statues and artwork that get burned at the end of the festival. It’s a must when in Africa!
This year: 23 – 29 April, 2018
VIC FALLS CARNIVAL, ZIMBABWE
The perfect way to end and start the year! Close to the Victoria Falls, this festival brings together the greatest artists from Southern Africa, the coolest and craziest activities and travelers from around the world as well as locals!
This year: 29 - 31st December, 2018
SAUTI ZA BUSARA, ZANZIBAR
One of the largest festivals in East Africa, it is held in the dreamy island of Zanzibar. Hundreds of artists perform every year, focusing on African music, from Swahili tunes, to taarab legends as well as pop and hip-hop!
Next year: 8 – 11 February 2018 (passed, but it's an annual thing!)
BUSHFIRE FESTIVAL, SWAZILAND
Set in the Malkern Valley, this three-day festival brings together music, exhibits, theatre, poetry, films, themed workshops and more! It was listed by CNN as one of the seven festivals in Africa that should not be missed!
This year: 25 – 27 May, 2017
LAKE OF STARS, MALAWI
The festival takes place on the shores of Lake Malawi and features Malawian and international artists. The festival is so good that it has become a focal point to visiting Malawi, a country that would otherwise be overlooked when traveling in Africa. That’s how good it is!
This year: 28 - 30 September, 2018
NYEGE NYEGE, UGANDA
Held in Jinja, a town famous for being the home to the source of the Nile River, the festival is inspired on the famous World Festival of the Black Arts that took place in Senegal in 1996. Three days of non-stop music include the best of contemporary African music such as Moroccan bass, swahili trap, Tigrinian blues, kuduros, Afro house, hiplife, and more! But that’s not it: the festival also aims to show the connections between African music and the rest of the world, so dancing to cumbias from South America, voodoo jazz from Haiti, and African-inspired hip-hop from the US are also an option!
This year: TBA
Traveling to Africa soon? Check out my packing list, where I talk about the items that will make your backpacking trip to Africa a breeze!