Shakespeare once said, “if music is the food of life, play on.” Africa is blessed with several genres of music that are pleasing to the ears and soothing to the soul. Africa has about the largest congregations at music festivals the world over.
Africans are known to connect to their music and will give anything to show off that connection. Music festivals are a great way to show off this connection and so many are organized on the shores of Africa every year.
In this article we shall look through ten best African music festivals we believe you should attend, more like the ten best African music festivals that should be on your bucket list.
Asa Baako (Ghana, March)
This music festival holds for five days in the first week of March in the unique Busua environment of Western Ghana. It is set right where the thick forests meet the sandy beaches. The festival is a mix of activities like music, surfing, sports, fishing, yoga, and lots more. The festival coincides with Ghana’s independence celebrations and attracts at least 2,000 locals and tourists yearly.
Bush Fire Festival (Swaziland, May)
This is easily one of the most celebrated African music festivals attracting about 26,000 people from 60 countries annually. The festival holds at the House of Fire situated in the farmlands of the Malkens Valley in the heart of the Mzimba Mountains. It features mostly South African themed music delving into bits of jazz, afrobeat, soul and hip-hop.
Oppikoppi (South Africa, August)
The Oppikoppi is arguably one of the biggest festivals in South Africa. An amazing fact about this festival is that managed to maintain its rock theme despite the addition of other forms of music over the 24 years of its existence. The festival runs over 3 days and has about 20,000 attendees yearly.
Festival au Désert (Mali)
It is said that no one has truly mastered the acoustic blues guitar like the Toaureg of the Sahara desert and in their art they have created the desert rock music genre. Festival au Désert has played host to this sounds for several years with bands like Terakaft and Tinariwen being major players. For now the festival is on a hiatus due to security challenges in the region.
Sabolai Radio Music Festival (Ghana, December)
This music festival is the shrine of autonomous experimental music in Accra, Ghana. Before being rebranded as Sabolai Radio, the festival was initially known as Indie Fuse and it has continued to be a major source of entertainment during the festive period, bringing several new talents to the scene. So many new talents have exhibited their music art on the Sabolai Radio Music stage. Notable among them are Juls and Mr. Eazi.
Lake of Stars Festival (Malawi, September)
This festival is sort a global music pilgrimage annually as it attracts tourists from all over the globe to Malawi. The festival which showcases Malawian culture mostly is cradled at the shores of Lake Malawi welcoming about 4,000 visitors yearly.
Felabration (Nigeria, October)
This festival was birthed from the need to immortalize one of Africa’s most iconic songwriters of all time, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Hosted at the New Afrika Shrine in Lagos, the celebration is set to mark Fela’s birthday and it brings together a congregation of artists who worked with him or were inspired by his artistry. Felabration is home to one of the most ingenious genres of African music, afrobeat.
Nyege Nyege Festival (Uganda, August)
This festival just clocked 4 years but is already one of the most talked about music events on the continent. The 4-day music festival is set amidst the forest which shares boundary with the source of the Nile, Jinja in Uganda. The festival features electro-pop all-day performances with wild parties at night. It is one of the best places to enjoy African electronic pop.
Cape Town Jazz Festival (South Africa, March)
This festival is a must attend, whether you are into jazz music or not. The Cape Town Jazz Festival holds on the last 2 days of March featuring a star-studded lineup of jazz artistes. The festival has grown over the last few years to incorporate other genres of music like afrobeat, experimental, hip-hop, etc.
Sauti za Busara (Zanzibar, February)
This East African music festival has held every year since 2003 and is a showcase of the best genres of East and Central African music. While at the festival tourists get to drink in the beautiful views of Zanzibar making it one of the most attended in Africa. There are also capacity building sessions over the four days of the festival to improve and equip budding artistes.