South Africa is more than just another African safari destination – it’s home to some of the biggest music festivals on the continent. Over the last twenty years, local festivals have attracted some of the biggest names in the music industry, racked up a few international awards along the way and are only getting bigger and better. It’s one of the best ways to experience the local music scene, meet some crazy South Africans and escape into the wilderness for a weekend of stomping underneath the stars.

So whether you are a metalhead, indie rocker or an electro head – get on a plane and experience some of the best music festivals the country has to offer!

1. Oppi Koppi

South Africa's amazing music festivals are the best way to experience the local music scene and meet some crazy South Africans!

photo by Christoph Lenz via flickr

Undisputedly, this is the biggest music festival of the year. Prawns (as Oppi goers are lovingly called) wait all year around to once again enter the gates of Mordor in Northam, Limpopo.

For the past 22 years, Oppi has brought out numerous international and local acts to Africa. From Wolfmother to Deftones – their headliners never fail to disappoint. It is by far one of the dustiest festivals around and is not for the faint of heart. You will return home a shade darker, thanks to a layer of dust that will not go away – even if you do waste your time lining up for the showers.

Before going to Oppi, prepare yourself for a weekend of complete debauchery. The booze will be flowing, the party will go on until the sun comes up and you will probably lose all your friends, be adopted by strangers at some point and climb into the wrong tent.

Oppi Koppi 2015: https://youtu.be/8YzSjEku23U


2. Rocking The Daisies

South Africa's amazing music festivals are the best way to experience the local music scene and meet some crazy South Africans!

photo by James Cells

Pack your flower crowns and dance the weekend away to some of the best international and local acts in the world!

Rocking the Daisies has grown from strength to strength over the last 11 years. Held every year during October in Darling, this festival brings together Cape Town’s fashion forward with eco-friendly initiatives. Think of it as South Africa’s answer to Coachella.

It’s the biggest green festival in South Africa and encourages people to reduce their carbon emissions getting to the festival by walking, cycling, busing or even ride sharing. The festival takes it a step further by having a daily Green Brigade sweep through the camping grounds and the Green Village area and by running one of its 9 stages completely off solar power.

It’s no surprise that in 2014, the festival was recognised by the Greener Festival Awards for its commitment to hosting large events while keeping environmental sustainability in mind.

Rocking The Daisies 2015: https://youtu.be/SJDIU7vXk6U


3. RAMFest

South Africa's amazing music festivals are the best way to experience the local music scene and meet some crazy South Africans!

photo via Ramfest

Tagged as South Africa’s ultimate rock festival, RAMFest has been responsible for bringing some of the biggest rock acts to South Africa’s shores. Originally a one-day festival, over the years it has grown into a full weekend extravaganza with pit stops in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

But if you aren’t into rock, not all is lost. RAMFest always has a killer electro music stage which has seen the likes of Prodigy and Infected Mushroom take festival goers into the early hours of Sunday morning.

Ramfest 2013: https://youtu.be/hG4FYjB_9Ns


4. Smoking Dragon Adrenaline Festival

South Africa's amazing music festivals are the best way to experience the local music scene and meet some crazy South Africans!

photo by Smoking Dragon

If you are looking for a music festival that goes beyond the rush of taking too many drugs – Smoking Dragon is for you. Located by the uKhahlamba mountain in the Drakensberg, the festival offers a fantastic excuse for a road trip through some of South Africa’s most scenic roads and a chance to skydive onto the festival site.

Could you ask for a more epic way to start a party?

And if that isn’t enough to get your blood pumping, you can book a range of other activities including paragliding, rock climbing, quad biking, paintball and more! If you can’t make the Adrenaline Festival, Smoking Dragon also hosts an annual New Year’s Eve party in the same location.

Smoking Dragon Festival 2015: https://youtu.be/PIgpV0smp-w


5. Earthdance

South Africa's amazing music festivals are the best way to experience the local music scene and meet some crazy South Africans!

photo via Amuga Photography

It’s hard to choose which trance party to attend during the summer months in South Africa. Cape Town is renowned for having one almost every single weekend!

But there is just something magical about Earthdance. The event kicks things off on the beautiful Nekkies Resort in Worchester with three dance floors dedicated to Psytrance, Techno and Drum & Bass.

Expect international and local artists to get you stomping. There are also art installations, a craft market and a sanctuary for those feeling a little too delicate to carry on. There are plenty of other things to get up to if you need a break from all the mad jamming. From dedicated yoga and meditation spots, drumming sessions, poi workshops and even a chance to join a parade.

Earthdance 2015: https://youtu.be/4oYfVOQ4GWc


6. Splashy Fen

South Africa's amazing music festivals are the best way to experience the local music scene and meet some crazy South Africans!

photo by Al Nicoll

Splashy Fen is one of South Africa’s longest running festivals. Located in Kwa-Zulu Natal, it’s been making people’s Easter weekend more interesting since 1990. With a lineup featuring some of the biggest names in South African rock and folk across 4 stages – it never fails to disappoint.

Apart from all the eargasms you will be having, there is also trail running in the mornings, beer gardens and a craft market. Splashy is also a great choice if you are travelling with kids and still want to get your party on. The festival boasts a day care centre and a children’s entertainment programme.

Splashy Fen 2016: https://youtu.be/nDbTGQMCY3U


7. AfrikaBurn

South Africa's amazing music festivals are the best way to experience the local music scene and meet some crazy South Africans!

Daya Heller’s fantastic artwork, photo by Lukas Renlund

AfrikaBurn is South Africa’s Burning Man and it is not to be missed. Located in the middle of the Karoo, every year around April a small part of this desert is turned into Tankwa Town.

Expect to see massive art installations towering above you like skyscrapers, theme camps and people dressed up in their craziest costumes as they make their way around on bicycles and ‘mutant vehicles’.

Some of the best-themed camps to check out are:

Steampunk Saloon – for nightly Burlesque variety shows.
Purple Spanking Booth – if you’ve been naughty and need to be disciplined.
Flow Arts Commune – don’t miss The Dance of a 1000 Flames event!
Critical Tits – loose your bra and take part in a rambunctious topless parade.

AfrikaBurn 2016: https://youtu.be/icYDqX4fXY8


8. Witchfest

South Africa's amazing music festivals are the best way to experience the local music scene and meet some crazy South Africans!

photo by JH Bartlett

Get out your blackest clothes and raise your horns to the sky!

Do you like your music dark, black and heavy? Then add WitchFest to your festival bucket list right now. It is by far the heaviest and biggest metal festival in South Africa and has garnered quite a reputation for itself thanks to the international acts it has brought to the country.

Behemoth, Hatebreed, Cannibal Corpse, Epica and Kataklysm are just some examples of the calibre of metal that festival goers can expect from Witch Fest. The festival made headlines in 2015 for hosting the first urban camping metal festival in Newtown, Johannesburg after being forced to change its location due to protests.

WitchFest 2015: https://youtu.be/1yw7qugOZ8U

Which festival would you like to visit in 2016/2017?


This is a guest post by Lauren Melnick.

10968282_10153143016442323_1637228915_nLauren is the co-founder of Wanderlust Movement. When she isn’t writing about her adventures around the world, she is preparing for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. Or stalking penguins. Follow her on InstagramSnapchat, and Twitter