Cape Town has an incredible festival scene, with multiple parties popping up every summer weekend. These festivals give us a chance to let loose, boogie till the early hours, dress ‘interestingly’, and make amazing memories with friends and strangers. That said, not every festival is created equal, and there’s plenty of scope for happy suprise or disappointment. With very little information available about these festivals, it can be tricky to know what will suit you, what to expect, and what you might experience.
To help us answer these questions, we asked the local festival-going community to write a bit about their experiences at the popular festivals in and around Cape Town. If you’re considering going to one of these events in and around Cape Town, take a look at what others have said about it to get a little background info.
Enjoy the read!
Dates: 01 – 03 September 2023
Location: Bushman’s Cave, Cederberg
Price: R550 – R750
Zero Gravity is a unique and phenomenal festival! Located deep in Rocklands (climbers’ paradise), the two stages are set against a cavernous cliff face, and within a canyon. You’re fully surrounded by nature, and a rare, rocky nature that feels pretty unreal. The organisers put so much effort into the little details — including morning yoga to stretch out those dancing muscles — making for a really beautiful, special experience.
It’s still a young festival, and totally uncommercialized, which is perhaps not what everyone’s looking for, but ideal for many of us!
A few notes on Zero Gravity:
- It’s about 3h drive from Cape Town
- They don’t sell alcohol, you’re encouraged to bring your own and avoid glass
- It’s camping-only, we’re all out in the wilderness here
- There’s one food truck (at least there was for the past two years it’s been running), so be sure to bring some of your own meals
— Katja Mamacos, WCT founder
Dates: 26 – 28 January 2024
Location: Elandskloof Farm Cottages
Price: Phase 1 starts at R1000 ($53)
Photo by Justin Peach
I hadn’t ever been to a psytrance festival when I attended my first Origin in January 2020. Since then, I haven’t missed an Origin – and I don’t intend to any time soon.
To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect. Perhaps that worked in my favour. The second I walked through those gates, it felt as though I was immersed in a different world. A hidden valley nestled between awe-inspiring mountains, an old forest with impressive oaks and poplars clustered around an ambling river, all bustling with happy humans. The attention to decorative detail was immediately evident, with pretty creations making the forest feel like a fairyland. The whole affair felt like a magical playground to explore.
As the event progressed, it became more and more evident that those who organised it were professionals. Clean toilets (a rarity in the world of festivals), crystal clear and delicious spring water from taps at multiple points throughout the venue, and wholesome vendors for food, clothing, and other goodies. And this is all aside from the sheer magnificence of the SHOW. The stages were breath-taking, and I was delighted and impressed when I first saw them. But as the event progressed, things just kept getting better. I was absolutely blown away by the achievements of the visual effects team. And the sound production quality… I won’t bother with words – it’s simply something that should be experienced rather than read. And somehow, they manage to outdo themselves year after year. Must be some seductive combination of sorcery and sheer competence. We’re honestly lucky to have this event so close to home in the Cape.
I often reminisce about my first Origin Festival back in 2012, when I got to behold the magic of DJ Tristan in full command of a heaving Sunday dance floor in the 40 degree heat. He had the whole floor in the palm of his hand for the duration of his set. Pure energy. Everyone dancing together as a single entity, experiencing his music in their own unique way. That was the first time I cried at a festival. The happiest of tears. A perfect memory.
Origin is a place for people to express themselves through music, visual arts, and dance, regardless of what they look like, where they come from, or what they have been through. Smiling faces everywhere you look. Beautiful people celebrating life, enjoying themselves in nature. We are so blessed to have such pristine beauty right on our doorstep. Elandskloof Farm will always hold a special place in my heart.
As far as local, world-class festivals go, you don’t get better than Origin. Regan and Monique have been refining their process for 20 years, and it shows. Their attention to detail is exquisite. If you are anywhere in or near the Cape over the last weekend of January/first weekend of February, Origin is the place to be.
Vortex: Festival of Dreams
Dates, location, and ticket prices are TBC for the next Vortex event, but it’ll be soon! Keep an eye on their Instagram page
Photo by Lavonne Bosman
The first festival I ever attended was Vortex Festival of Dreams, a trance music festival held in the height of summer out on a farm in the Western Cape, South Africa; boasting intricate light and stage set ups, an array of low and high tempo music, chill spaces alongside the side of the dance floor and plenty of fun creative spaces to go and explore and meet people. After having attended many of these kinds of trance festivals over the following years I had developed a certain expectation of what ‘going to a festival’ meant.
The people were friendly and respectful, there were Eco Guardians whose sole purpose was to make sure that litter was not present, everyone was respectful of the nature surrounding us (there was once even a herd of cows that broke loose on the dance floor one year and they had a great time), and that if anyone was having a rough time they would have someone to talk to.
The essence of the trance scene seems to be a balance of interconnectivity, respect, creativity, freedom and a good ol time on the dance floor. There was one year where I married a purple pirate (I wonder how she’s doing), there was another year where I was able to find a lift home with a stranger in exchange for a nug of weed and some great conversation to make sure I got home for my mothers wedding on time, and another experience where I was a part of a sacred circle where we stared at the sunset and partook in laughing yoga together.
The open air showers and accessible toilets made it easy to keep clean and pop off to the loo without needing to be gone for three hours. All in all, a very wholesome, fun and safe experience all round every single time.
Habitat hosts a series of events yearly. They run on a similar schedule and style. The next even is Rainbow’s End and here is the important information:
Dates: 30 September – 1 October 2023
Location: 33° 36′ 40.3528″ S 19° 14′ 49.1377″ E
Price: Starting at R650 ($34) for admissions and camping.
The Wander Cape Town team with friends Amir and Janelle — Photo by Amir Anwary
Driving to Habitat at the Theewaterskloof Dam was a beautiful experience, especially as we rounded the last corner and saw the dam stretching away into the distance. Anyone who’s been to a festival knows, this is the moment that feet start tapping, hands start fiddling, and in general, even the biggest car starts feeling too restrictive.
Tents were strewn over the fields, with people dressed bright and sparkly starting to drink their drinks in their little camping chairs, help each other with complex makeup, and catch up, with laughs punctuating their points.
At around 5pm, people started flocking to the stage. It was under cover, which was ideal for the little bit of rain we had later in the night, and for creating a connecting atmosphere. The psy trance and techno went on late into the night, with everyone dancing their faces off for hours
No external alcohol is allowed in at Habitat, so the bar is your only option for a dop. There were also food vendors, comfy chills spots, and a flash tattoo artist for anyone feeling particularly spontaneous. All of this came in handy on the second day, when we slowly, with heavy hangovers, walked to a beautiful, blessed brekkie truck and got the breakfast bun of dreams and a coffee that felt like it could save lives. These things kept us dancing for many more hours.
Habitat was a ton of fun, with excellent outfits, great music, and a fun setup. My partner and I were a smidge bummed that we were so far from the water, and there was no way we were walking the km to the showers, but a quick morning dip did the job just fine!
Similar to Habitat, Wolfkop Weekender hosts a series of events throughout the year. The next event is Islands on the River and the information is as follows:
Dates: 27 – 30 October 2023
Location: Wolfkop Camping Villages
Price: Starting at R995 ($53) for Early Bird
Image sourced from this Wolfkop Weekender FB post
WolfKop Weekender, Cooked Sister, and Power Flower are festivals that hold a special place in my heart. You could almost say that they transcend your average music festival by elevating their offerings to provide for a truly holistic and unique experience.
I love the way that they integrate the beautiful natural surroundings by maximizing the environment and space to allow participants to feel at home and a part of nature. From the lilos on the rivers, to the open dancefloors and epic stages where we dance under the stars, to the cinematic framing of the campsite wrapped in mountains stretching to the horizon, the setting is unparalleled, every time.
The music is always diverse and inclusive, they offer music that represents our country and is deeply influenced by the variety of musical styles and taste that make our music world-class.
The people who attend these events are also special. The quality of the interactions, connections, and exchanges that happen through the weekends are brilliant. It’s as if people are invested in making the special memorable, and, as a consequence, they show up as the best versions of themselves.
Overall, I am never left wanting or wishing for more at any of these events. I leave the event feeling energized and invigorated, and yearning to return to create some new magic adventures again.’
The next Pangea event is Family Affair and here is some of the information you should know:
Dates: 19 – 22 October 2023
Location: Karoo1 Hotel Village
Price: Starting at R1250 ($67) for phase 1 admissions and camping.
Photo sourced from Pangea’s Instagram page
I bought my ticket to Pangea seven hours before driving up. A look through the line up over morning coffee had me sold. Alongside the music, yoga, and scenery, it promised a cuddle workshop, conscious dancing, and a friendly foray into rope play. We hit the road in the late afternoon and plodded up through the Cape Winelands, passing fellow Pangea-goers along the way. You know that a music festival is afoot when Paarl petrol stations are awash with pashminas and platform boots.
With dusk on the horizon, we landed at Karoo 1 Hotel Village – our home for the next three days. After a sandy luggage trek and head-lit tent set up, we hunted down some gin and tonics, and donned our own pashminas for the night. One of the first things that struck me was the unreasonable number of good-looking people, all dressed and made up as if they weren’t living out of dusty tents. There were several festival outfit flavors on display – a mingling of Mad Max motorheads, sexy space cowboys, and well-manicured pirate people.
Pangea is a horizontal festival. The entire setup is strung along the length of a sandy, tree-lined path through a rocky valley.Near to the camping area, the hotel bungalows resemble smooth-walled desert dwellings in soft-white. But as you ramble further down the path, your world slowly morphs with each intricate installation.
Along the way, you’ll see softly-lit chill spaces with countless pieces of antique furniture, and enter a Wild Western strip town with a fully-furnished ‘saloon’ – accurate down to the double swinging doors and out-of-tune piano. The attention to detail is astonishing throughout.
En route to the first stage; a spacious sandy dance floor covered with a psy-trance stretch tent, throwing funky techno into the air. Among other absurdities in the valley, we watched psyched-out garage rock in a Midsommar-style church, and played djembe drums to downtempo in a truly zen bedouin tent.
Beyond this, the path culminates at the second stage, across a wooden bridge. It’s set next to the jaw-dropping swimming pool, built into the rocks and overlooking the valley. Here we often found dark techno beaming out into the depths of the night. All enhanced by the A-grade projection-mapped visuals, turning the valley walls into face-melting psychedelic spectacles.
Pangea was a feast for the senses and fuck-load of fun – certainly one to re-visit.
Bazique: A Playground for the Soul
Dates: 23 – 25 February 2024
Location: Kromrivier Farm Riviersonderend
Photo sourced from the Bazique facebook page
It’s not just your ordinary music festival; it’s a playground for the soul. From the moment you step foot into this immersive experience, you are welcomed into a realm where joy and creativity dance hand in hand. The spirit of play is interwoven into every facet of the festival, encouraging attendees to embrace their inner child and shed their inhibitions. Here, conformity is an alien concept, and individuality is celebrated.
The heartbeat of Bazique emanates from its diverse music offerings. Electronic music aficionados find themselves immersed in pulsating beats, hypnotic rhythms, and mind-bending melodies. With stages that appear to materialize from the wildest dreams of artists, each one reflects the festival’s philosophy of inviting patrons to let loose, embrace the absurd, and dance like nobody’s watching.
Beyond the music, Bazique transforms the mountainous regions of the Western Cape into an open-air art gallery, with innovative and interactive exhibits that ignite the imagination. Here, art is not just a display; it is an extension of the celebration of life. From fire breathing mega skulls to mesmerizing light installations, every corner of Bazique is adorned with artistic expressions that harmonize with the festival’s essence of liberation.
People from all walks of life unite here, bonded by their love for music and their shared desire to experience life’s extraordinary moments.
Ask any Bazique attendee why they journey from far-flung lands to this paradisiacal gathering, and the resounding answer will be the spirit of the South African people. Infused with an almost tangible energy that can be felt in the rhythm of dance and the warmth of the smiles around, South Africans have a unique way of welcoming visitors into their hearts and embracing them as family. Their spirit of camaraderie and their ability to celebrate life is contagious, leaving every festivalgoer feeling like they’ve found a new home away from home.
Bazique is a festival that goes beyond music; it is a celebration of life and the human spirit. In this technicolor wonderland, you’re bound to run into the unexpected, the mystical, and the whimsical. The festival offers an escape from the mundane, a chance to let go, and a space to reconnect with yourself and others.
Photo by Leah Bessa
This year was the first time I’ve been to Bazique, and it did not disappoint. Everything was magical. The attention to detail was incredible, from the intricate stage design to the hidden nooks you found along the way, to the cute little swimming pool they set up in dam.
There were 5 very diverse stages, and the journey between stages was filled with interesting installations that sparked conversations as you made your way from set to set. The music at each stage was awesome, but the main stage really did it for me. Every time I went there, the music was epic, and the sound system was unbelievably good.
Though I haven’t been to Afrika Burn, but I felt like I was at a mini–Afrika Burn, that was tucked away in a mini forest, and surrounded by mountains, dams and filled with people dressed in weird and wonderful outfits. This year it rained pretty much throughout, and the last day was rained out, but even so, Bazique has been my favourite festival so far.
Organik: Love Project
The next Organik event is Gaian Dream which boosts three dance floors (psytrance, techno and an immersive art gallery and chill floor). Here is the important information:
Dates: Fri Oct 13, 10:00 – Sun Oct 15, 16:00
Location: Kromrivier Farm Riviersonderend
Price: Starting at R950 ($51) for early bird access
Photo by Joffrey Hyman
If you’re a psytrance fan who loves love, communal dance, and freedom of expression, Love Project is a must. It’s held at one of my favourite locations, the beautiful Kromrivier. Here, one can fully immerse in the wonders of nature and inspire our inner children to come out and play.
As an avid psytrance listener, the lineup is spot on, with DJs providing tracks that keep me groovin’ into the early hours of the morning. The stage art and mapping are so wondrous that they’ll have you lost in the transcendental psychedelic patterns.
This festival attracts a crowd that truly lives up to its name, where people come together with the collective goal of universal love through music and conscious partying. I have met and connected with some of the most incredible people from all walks of life at this festival.
Love Project holds a very special place in my heart as it was one of the last festivals I took part in before moving abroad. It provided a space for my friends and I to express that the love we share is infinite no matter how far apart we may be. Personally, Love Project symbolises that we will always be connected through the love of dance, music, and nature.
I truly believe that whether you’re a forest fairy who wanders barefoot through the wilderness or a hardcore raver, this festival holds a safe space for everyone to celebrate and express themselves authentically because wherever love grows, there is no judgement.
Alien Safari – Little Forest
Dates, location, and ticket prices are TBC for the next event, but it’ll be soon! Keep an eye on the Alien Safari Instagram page
Photo sourced from the Alien Safari Facebook Page
Little Forest took place over the 2022 New Years, and unlike most New Year’s Parties, this one lived up to the hype. The only downside to this festival was that the campsite was a bit far from the bathrooms and showers, and the route there was pretty confusing, but it did make for an interesting journey each time.
Little Forest is a smaller festival, with one dance floor, which was awesome, because you always knew where to find everyone. The music was awesome, and at any given time you wouldn’t be able to tell who was enjoying the music more, the crowd or the DJ’s playing on stage. There was a wonderful little stream near the stage, which brought a welcome cool down in the delightful summer heat. All in all, it was an awesome festival to welcome the new year.”
Afrikaburn is not for the feint of heart. It requires planning and lots of preparation! Please check out their webpage and do your research.
Dates: 29 April – 5 May 2024
Price: Starting R2500 for general admissions. Many other prices and ticketing options available on their webpage.
Photo by Gigi Birkett
Afrikaburn, an extraordinary festival hosted each year in the Tankwa Karoo, likely holds a special place in the heart of all those who have attended. From the moment you lose signal on the road to Burn, your magical experience begins. It is as though you are entering a surreal world along with travellers from far and wide, converging in the middle of nowhere to build a temporary city in the desert.
There are a series of artworks scattered across the festival grounds, some of which get burned throughout the week. These artworks include sculptures with powerful messages, interactive artworks and a range of other installations such as a giant pinhole camera you can walk inside of. While some get burned and change from year to year, others remain over a few years.
There is also a diverse range of theme camps, such as a naked human carwash – which comes in handy given that you won’t see a normal shower for a week. If that’s not quite your vibe, don’t worry because there is a place for everyone at Afrikaburn. My favourite theme camp was Fractal Chill, an Ethiopian tea and coffee house that offers a delicious 4 course tea tasting.
During the day, the African sun is hot, and burners find solace in theme camps or in the shade of the art structures. At night, a new world emerges. Artworks are set on fire and people gather, sometimes in silence, to watch them burn. The first burn seems to draw out a youthful, playful and carefree side of people that grows throughout the week. As music of all genres drift across the desert, inhabitants of this magnificent temporary city dance under the stars late into the night. Some stages are set up in Bedouin tents along the ‘binnekring’, and others are mobile, built on cars or vans that make their way across the desert and park in a spot for the night.
There is no line up, so you follow the sound of good music across the desert until you find what you like. Personally, I love techno, and spent a lot of my time in Mirage listening to talented dj’s I had never heard of before but love now.
This festival is something special, as it is not just music. It is a realm of self expression, boundless creativity and radical inclusion. It fosters connections with people, and allows one to explore their relationship with themselves.
One of the key principles of Afrikaburn is gifting. My group of friends brought cocktail ingredients and gifted mojitos. Gifts I received included food, fresh juice, bubbles, jewellery and polaroids. I also went on a geology tour of the area hosted by a geologist as his gift to people.
Because the festival is built upon respect for one other, one of my favourite parts was to see people so comfortable in their own skin like I have never seen before. Whether you are butt naked, or dressed up with your favourite clothes, you have the opportunity to be fully, unconditionally yourself. This, paired with the disconnect from technology, allowed me to let go of the worries of everyday life and focus on being present. I found it strengthened my relationships with the people around me and with myself.
A common problem that afflicts those who have attended Afrikaburn is the inability to put this experience into words. How can you return from a week in the desert with dust coating everything you own and attempt to describe what it feels like to attend a wedding where everyone wore purple or make a clay vulva or dance around a giant burning artwork as embers landed all around you. I have only scratched the surface of what Afrikaburn is, the reality is that you have to experience it for yourself. See you in the dust!
Photo by Gigi Birkett
Words cannot even begin to describe the madness and beauty of Afrika Burn. Months later I find that there are still forgotten memories coming back to me. So much happened in those 7 days that opened my eyes to the bigger picture of us all being here together, at this point in time, on this floating rock. What I found incredible about all the artworks on display is that you were allowed to interact with them, climb on top, walk through etc. It was such an emotional experience to connect with each artwork, discover parts of its story, and then watch it burn to the ground.
By the end of Day 1 you are so desensitised to nudity that for the remainder of the week no one is sexualising one another, but rather embracing the magnificence our own bodies and those of others. Insane desert techno aside, I have never cried so much in one week – but make no mistake they were tears of pure joy and elation.
Even if you aren’t the biggest fan of techno or partying, as long as you are open to new things I cannot beg you enough to attempt Burn at least once in your life. Having come back to society I still feel as though a veil has been lifted from my eyes and still feel the effects of this new loving mindset #BurnForever
Top tips for festival goers
Festivals are an intense experience with a lot to consider and depending on the festival, things can go from bad to very bad very fast. So here are some hot tips that I would recommend to any festival goer before embarking on your journey.
Download your ticket so that it is available offline
Many festivals take place away from civilization and cellular reception and believe me, little compares to that sinking feeling of arriving at the gate and being barred. Having your ticket available offline is a safe and secure way to make sure this does not happen.
Make sure you read through any information pack and other relevant news
Some festivals sell their own alcohol and don’t allow for it to be brought in while other festivals will not be as concerned. Some festivals might not have card facilities while others might expect you to buy a festival card and load it with credit for in-festival purchases. Maps and parking requirements will be highlighted in these info packs too.
In summary, it is for your best benefit to know what you are walking into as well as possible.
Rather overpack than under
You can never be too prepared. I’m serious! There is so much to consider when packing for a weekend festival. Here are some of the things I’d highly recommend you take with you apart from the camping essentials:
- Light source (Head torch, phone light, rechargeable lantern, etc.)
- Wet wipes
- Snacks (calorie-dense foods. Energy bars, dried fruit, biltong, nut butters, etc.Trust me, you will need the energy)
- Lollipops (nice to share on the dance floor)
- Extra underwear (you’ll want to get in that body of water if it is there)
- Camping chairs
- Ground mat
- Insect repellant
The list could be a lot longer but I will wrap it there!
As I mentioned earlier, festivals are an intense exhilarating experience and can be overwhelming if you are not prepared both physically and mentally. Take some time the day you leave to centre yourself. You might not get to shower, have cellular reception, be gone from home for days on end and possibly discover something new about yourself. Think about what is to come and prepare mentally for that journey.”
Ready to jol!
So there you have it! 9 fantastic festivals in the nearby Cape Town surroundings, each with their own unique flavour and style. Now that you have a little more information and understanding, we hope that you can make a more informative decision on which festival appeals to you best such you can maximize your pleasure.
Lucky for us, there are so many happening throughout summer that you can pick and choose to suit your preference! Happy jolling!