10 Must-Visit African Music Festivals That Will Ignite Your Wanderlust

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Attending African music festivals is a passport to the unique sounds, beats, and vibes of the continent. These festivals not only celebrate music but also offer a deeper understanding of African culture, blending big international artists with local talent. If you’re planning to travel to Africa, make sure to mark your calendar for these mind-blowing music festivals.

1. Mawazine, Morocco

Location: Rabat, Morocco
When: Annually in May/June
Why Go: Held annually in Rabat, Morocco, Mawazine Music Festival is a spectacular fusion of international and local talent. This festival, initiated by the Maroc Cultures Association in 2001, aims to unite people from diverse cultural backgrounds through music. With stages dedicated to various genres, including African, Moroccan, and World Music, Mawazine attracts over 2 million visitors each year.

2. Cape Town International Jazz Festival, South Africa

Location: Cape Town, South Africa
When: End of March/First weekend of April
Why Go: Dubbed “Africa’s Grandest Gathering,” this festival features an impressive lineup of jazz musicians from around the world. Past performers include Chaka Khan, Sho Madjozi, Amel Larrieux, Beatenberg, and Amanda Black. The event also hosts photographic exhibitions, a jazz gala supper, and a golf day, offering a blend of music and cultural experiences.

3. Vic Falls Carnival, Zimbabwe

Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
When: December 29-31
Why Go: This three-day event is the largest cultural gathering of Southern African talent. Alongside the music, attendees can enjoy adventure activities like bungee jumping, sunset river cruises, and white water rafting. It’s a thrilling combination of natural beauty and musical talent.

4. Sauti Za Busara, Tanzania

Location: Zanzibar, Tanzania
When: February
Why Go: This four-day carnival-style festival in Zanzibar features over 400 African musicians. With three massive stages, Sauti Za Busara celebrates the diverse sounds of Africa, attracting artists from Uganda, South Africa, Mozambique, Ghana, and beyond. It’s a vibrant celebration of African music and culture.

5. Festac, Lagos, Nigeria

Location: Lagos, Nigeria
When: Annually
Why Go: Festac known as the Lagos Music Festival, Festac showcases top African musicians like Phyno, Patoranking, Seyi Shay, Inyanya, and Ruff Coin. The festival promotes the growth of Nigerian musicians and offers a creative platform for them to shine on both domestic and global stages. It’s a fusion of music, food, and visual arts.

6. Nyege Nyege, Uganda

Location: Jinja, Uganda
When: September
Why Go: Nyege Nyege, which means “an uncontrollable desire to dance” in Luganda, is a festival that highlights the East African music scene. Held on the shores of the Nile River every September, this four-day festival features around 200 artists from across Africa. It stands for peace, love, joy, and inclusivity, offering a diverse range of musical genres and artistic workshops.

7. Rocking the Daisies, South Africa

Location: Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa
When: October
Why Go: One of the biggest music festivals in Africa, Rocking the Daisies features a lineup of local and international musicians. Past performers include Stormzy, Ari Lennox, Col3trane, Elaine, Lordkez, and Scorpion Kings. It’s two unforgettable weekends of music and fun.

8. Lake of Stars, Malawi

Location: Lake Malawi, Malawi
When: September
Why Go: Set against the enchanting backdrop of Lake Malawi, this festival offers a mix of Afro-pop music, international artists, poetry, workshops, and short films. Dance all day and night by the golden shores and deep blue waters, and enjoy the spectacular sunrise over the lake.

Lake of Stars 2008 A.J.E.Bradley

9. Accra Electronic Music Festival, Ghana

Location: Accra, Ghana
When: August
Why Go: Ghana’s largest electronic music festival features international DJs and aspiring musicians. The four-day event includes songwriting and electronic music production classes, fostering a fun and creative atmosphere for all music lovers.

10. Afropunk, South Africa

Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
When: Late December
Why Go: Afropunk is a celebration of African descent, creativity, and rebellion against the norm. Featuring the biggest names in African music, creativity, and conversation, this festival is all about simplicity, rawness, and open curiosity. It’s a powerful gathering of talent and culture.

11. Gaborone International Music and Culture Week

Gaborone_International

This is an international music festival that features spectacular performances by internationally acclaimed artists. It is held during the first week of September. This festival is not only famous for its insane jaw-dropping music but also for its various culturally-rich exhibits and workshops. So, if you attend this music festival you don’t just get to enjoy music but also blend in with the locals.

Location: Gaborone, Botswana

12. Sandbox Festival

Sandbox_Festival

Location: Red Sea Riviera, El Gouna, Egypt
Highlight: Art workshops, dreamlike performanc

Conclusion

Attending an African music festival is more than just enjoying great music; it’s about immersing yourself in the rich cultural tapestry of the continent. Whether you’re into jazz, hip-hop, electronic music, or Afro-pop, there’s a festival in Africa that will captivate your heart and soul. So pack your bags, book your flights, and get ready to dance your way through Africa’s most exciting music festivals.

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