Photo: Adobe Stock
Our 2020 hot-list of some of South Africa’s most popular music and arts festivals and why they should be added to the agenda. And fast.
Photo: Adobe Stock
To match the rich diversity we’re renowned for, South Africa has done us proud yet again and has us covered for another year’s worth of seriously great music and arts festivals.
Reflecting this same diversity by showcasing various music genres and styles, honouring our great outdoors wherever possible, and spanning the corners of our beloved country — there’s no denying there’s something on offer for all of us.
From a burning celebration in the desert to cultural exhibits in the city, all you have to worry about is securing your tickets and making sure your “festival gear game” is strong.
Where: Val Bonne Country Estate, Modderfontein, Johannesburg
When: Saturday, 14 March
A party and a picnic all in one… With an international artist line-up, as well as supporting local acts, there’s no better way to kick-start the weekend with a beautiful backdrop, adding to a long list of ticks.
Where: Oudtshoorn, Western Cape
When: 23 to 29 March
This vibrant Afrikaans festival originally started as an alternative to its “English version”, the National Arts Festival in Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown), and proudly showcased its 25th anniversary in 2019. With hundreds of shows on offer over the week — art, dance, music, and theatre celebrations, you won’t want to miss out.
Where: Cape Town
When: 27 to 28 March
The Cape Town International Jazz Festival has been a highlight on the country’s entertainment calendar for the past two decades. This two-day showstopper event, which boasts being the largest music event in sub-Saharan Africa, spans five stages and welcomes thousands of supporters each year.
Where: The Drakensberg
When: 9 to 13 April
Ahhhhh, we love good old Splashy Fen…not only because its located in our awe-inspiring and World Heritage Site of the Drakensberg and is dubbed “SA’s friendliest festival”, but also because it’s the country’s longest-running festival.
Splashy Fen celebrates pretty much everything associated with goodness in South Africa: The people, our arts, local music and backdrops to boot!
Where: Tankwa Karoo National Park
When: 27 April to 3 May
AfrikaBurn is undoubtedly one for the top of the bucket list, a smaller version of the United States’ Burning Man, this community-based event is a creative showcase of all it hosts.
Thousands gather once a year in the Tankwa Karoo National Park to create a shared city of art, themed camps, costume, performance and of course, music.
Where: Malkerns Valley, eSwatini
When: 29 to 31 May
MTN Bushfire Festival in Swaziland may not be in South Africa, but it’s just too good not to mention. Hosted in Africa’s tiny kingdom and just a four-hour drive from Johannesburg, this is one for the 2020 road trip map.
Bringing together music and arts from all over to the continent’s smallest country – we’re confident we can find an excuse to plan a weekend adventure.
Where: Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown), Eastern Cape
When: 25 June to 5 July
This annual event is the biggest and probably the best-known arts festival in South Africa. Hosted for longer than a week and spread over an incredible 90 venues in Makhanda, it’s really no small feat. Whatever your interest, everything — from art, music, theatre, dance, lectures, and workshops — it’s all on offer and in abundance here.
Where: Soweto, Johannesburg
When: 14 to 16 June (2020 dates TBA)
This inspired four-day event is hosted at the Soweto Theatre and is extra special this year as it celebrates what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday. This music and arts festival is dedicated to Johannesburg and its beautiful people. So, Jozi, if it shows you love, best you return the favour and support.
Where: Cape Town
When: 2 to 4 October
There’s a reason why this is the darling of the Cape Town festival scene. A weekend celebrating our incredible local talent, along with some big international headliners – this festival welcomes all and has a green focus: Each year the organisers explore every avenue to make this the most carbon-neutral event possible.