South Africa’s stunning vistas, the grandeur of its wild landscapes and the legendary big-game animals might be many people’s biggest attraction when it comes to visiting the country.
However, that doesn’t mean there’s not a whole lot more culture to explore while you’re here. Just one of the interesting subcultures that thrive here is the South African underground music and party scene. So why not throw yourself in at the deep end, and get yourself a ticket for one of these varied festivals? From classy jazz, soul and funk to hedonistic Burning-Man type hippie communes or the bombastic DJ sets of Electronic Dance Music superstars such as Calvin Harris and Hardwell – there’s a lot of musical vibes to soak up across South Africa.
Cape Town International Jazz Festival
2019 Dates: 29th – 30th of March
First held in 2000, this jazz, hip-hop and RnB extravaganza has grown from humble roots to be the fourth largest jazz festival in the world. Over 50,000 concert-goers attend over the two-day event at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. This years’ confirmed acts include YouTube sensation FKJ, the worldwide famous Gipsy Kings, US-based 80’s legend Chaka Kahn, saxophonist Nubya Garcia and a whole host of Africa’s most famous jazz musicians, singers and performers.
2019 Dates: April 29th – May 5th
Afrikaburn is the South African cousin of Nevada’s Burning Man festival. It is held in the Tankwa Karoo province, approximately 300 miles North of Cape Town. An arid and remote stretch of land there’s no mobile phone signal or nearby civilisation here. Legendarily the home to some of the craziest community art, Afrikaburn also features roving mechanical structures and unbelievable theatrics. Strangest of all though, everything at Afrikaburn is entirely free (except for your ticket). The site itself operates on a gift economy basis, with participants encouraged to share openly and freely. There’s also no advertising or sponsors on site at all. It takes its Burning theme from the giant wooden pyre that is burnt on the last night of the three-day festival.
2019 Dates: March 1st & 2nd
Ultra Music festival is almost the complete opposite of Afrikaburn, but both are immensely popular. Africa’s largest electronic festival, it even has two separate locations in Johannesburg and Cape Town. With 15,000 party goers in Joburg and 30,000-plus expected at the Cape Town leg – that’s some party. 2019’s line-up includes superstar Martin Garrix, psytrance legend Infected Mushroom and US chart-toppers The Chainsmokers. Expect a lot of neon, heavy bass and people jumping like crazy.
2019 Dates: Thursday 8th August – Saturday 10th
For something a little more native South African, but no less of a raucous party, why not try this festival in the Norther province of Limpopo out for size. Mostly focusing on metal and rock music for many years, as well as South African artists, Oppikoppi has diversified somewhat in recent years. However, it still keeps the same vibe it started with – earning Oppikoppi many awards as one of the best music festivals in the world.