A Guide to Summer festivals in Southern Africa

22 Jan 2018

From South Africa to Swaziland, celebrate the warmer months at one of Africa's top outdoor music festivals. Here's our roundup of some of the best summer festivals to diarise in the southern African region.


Sat Dec 16 – Sun Dec 17

An innovative, family-friendly and all-round fun community event, the Makhelwane Festival takes place in and around the streets of Mzimhlophe, Soweto. Locals open their gardens and homes to the public with food stalls, live music, DJs and art exhibitions as well as cookery classes. Makhelwane is a Zulu term meaning neighbour but in African culture refers to community. Day tickets are available or you can join in the pop-up camp site at Lebo's Soweto Backpackers.
Poka Street, Soweto. Tickets R100-R150,

Sat Dec 30 – Sun Dec 31

With a world class lineup of the hottest names in black alternative music Afropunk Joburg 2017 promises to be one of the most exciting music events that Joburg has hosted in recent years and is easily one of the biggest music festivals in Africa. International headline acts include Solange, Anderson Paak and Laura Mvula, while representing South Africa are some of the biggest names in the local alternative music scene such as The Brother Moves On, Spoek Mathambo, Nakhane, Thandiswa Mazwai, Black Motion and Urban Village. The festival takes place over the New Year weekend at the national heritage landmark Constitution Hill in Braamfontein.
Constitution Hill, Braamfontein. Tickets R600 for one day, weekend pass R900,

Fri Feb 9

One of the world’s biggest all-night dance music events with three stages, over 30,000 festival goers and a blockbuster line-up of international and local DJs which this year includes Black Coffee, Afro Jack, Armin van Buuren, Hardwell, Carnage and Dubfire.
Nasrec Expo Centre, Soweto. Tickets R800-R950,

Fri Apr 27
Attracting close to 20,000 devoted fans to the streets of Newtown, this is Africa’s biggest hip hop and street culture festival, timed to coincide with South Africa's Freedom Day public holiday. Expect performances from talented MCs, beatboxers, rappers and dancers throughout the day plus basketball courts, skating ramps, a clothing market specialising in hip hop and streetwear, graffiti competitions and a wide variety of food and drink stalls.
Mary Fitzgerald Square, Newtown. Tickets R800- R950,

Further Afield

Fri Dec 29 – Sun Dec 31

Usher in the New Year at one of the world’s seven wonders with the Vic Falls Carnival. The three-day festival includes a steam-train party cruise across the famous Vic Falls bridge with live DJs both on and off the train and culminates in a massive New Year’s Eve party and an epic countdown complete with fire breathers and traditional dancers. Headline acts include Black Coffee, Tresor, Mi Casa, The Kiffness and Jason Le Roux.
Victoria Falls Farmschool, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Tickets R660-R1190,

Sat Feb 17 – Sun Feb 18

This 24-hour curated party is one of South Africa's most exclusive summer festivals. Littlegig is both a music festival and a market, showcasing some of South Africa’s hottest musicians as well as top chefs, winemakers, artists and designers. Tickets include food and drink with camping options available at an extra cost. Headline acts include Nonku Phiri, Samthing Soweto, Black Motion, DJ Kenzhero and Stelth Ulvang from The Lumineers.
Wiesenhof Nature Reserve, R44, Western Cape. Tickets R2300-R2450,

Thu Mar 29 – Mon Apr 2

South Africa’s longest running annual music festival, Splashy Fen started in 1990 inspired by a dinner conversation between Bart Fokkens and Peter Ferraz who envisgaed a place where one could “have a really good time with a few musicians playing around campfires, joined by some truly passionate music-lovers”. Originally a two-day event, the first Splashy Fen drew 1200 festivalgoers and has since grown massively and now typically takes place over the four-day Easter weekend. The festival is held in a beautiful valley in the mountains of the Underberg, so camping is essential.
Bushman’s Nek Rd, Underberg, KwaZulu-Natal. Tickets from R660,

Fri May 25 – Sun May 27

Globally recognised as one of Africa’s leading music festivals, the MTN Bushfire in Swaziland offers plenty of good food, excellent music, a friendly atmosphere and beautiful surrounds. There are four stages and a global food village, plus a special kids-zone making this one of the most family-friendly festivals in the region. Another popular plus is the broad range of accomodation options which include camping and self-catering chalets. While the 2018 lineup is still to be announced, 2017 headline acts included Hugh Masekela, GoodLuck, Bombino, Baloji and TKZee. MTN Bushfire tickets often sell out months in advance, hence we've opted to add this Autumn festival to our summer festivals list!
House on Fire, Malkerns Valley, Swaziland. Tickets R780-R1550,

Associated Venues

Expo Centre Johannesburg (Nasrec)

 Cnr Rand Show Rd and Nasrec Rd, Nasrec

Mary Fitzgerald Square

 Mary Fitzgerald Square, Newtown


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