South Africans love their music festivals, and Cape Town is no exception. Each year the city and its surrounding towns play host to several popular music festivals worth diarising. What the city lacks in big-name international headliners, it more than makes up for with incredible venues, top quality local acts, and one or two surprise high profile performances.
Cape Town and its surrounds make for the perfect setting for outdoor music festivals, and there’s usually something for everyone – from trance and electronic to jazz and rock. If you’re looking to celebrate summer at an outdoor music festival, diarise these annual events right away.
Rocking the Daisies
Rocking the Daisies, or just RTD, is the granddaddy of the pop and rock festivals in the Cape Town region. It has grown up from its early days of small stages and intimate camping to a mammoth annual event. These days you’ll find a slick festival with several stages and a handful of international acts, taking place at a wine estate worth visiting in its own right.
Cloof Wine Estate, Malmesbury, South Africa, http://www.rockingthedaisies.com
September and January
Wolfkop organises at least two editions each year, and their music festivals are fast becoming the most popular in Cape Town. They takes place at the idyllic camping village of Wolfkop in Citrusdal, and in many ways they are more relaxing than other music festivals on the go close to the city. The surrounding Cederberg Mountains set the tone and the river offers the perfect way to cool off. Moreover, the lineup and simultaneous activities are enough to keep you coming back year after year.
Keerom St, Citrusdal, South Africa, http://wolfkopweekender.co.za
The Alien Safari brand has been going strong for years. There are usually a handful of Alien Safari events each year, and most trance-loving Capetonians head to at least one. If you must pick one, Sprung is the trance event that kicks of the annual outdoor trance calendar. It’s a weekend where pretty much anything goes, and although the venue has moved around in recent years it continues to attract large, eclectic crowds and a strong lineup.
Vortex is another trance festival organiser that’s a veteran on the local scene, and they’ve been producing some of the most popular events in this genre for 20 years. There are Vortex events in December each year, with another version taking place over the Easter Weekend. Most head to the event for the high-quality electronic lineup, but the idyllic riverside venue doesn’t hurt either.
Jongenskloof Country Retreat, DR1306, Riviersonderend, South Africa, https://vortextranceadventures.co.za
Synergy Live might have skipped a year or two and changed its venue from time to time, but it returned in 2017 to produce another popular edition. The organisers are old hats in the festival game, and you can expect a variety of stages, genres and a slick and comfortable venue to make it a festival to remember.
Anura Vineyards, Simondium Road, Klapmuts, Stellenbosch, South Africa, https://www.synergylive.co.za/
Up the Creek
Up the Creek is one of the most laid-back music festivals to take place close to Cape Town. Each year the festival fills up social media feeds with pictures of hungover revellers relaxing on inflatable loungers as they recover from a night of thorough partying. The focus is primarily on rock, pop and a bit of electronic, and with limited ticket numbers and several stages it’s always one of the quieter fixtures on the festival calendar.
Up The Creek Music Festival, Breede River, Barrydale, Western Cape, South Africa, https://www.upthecreek.co.za
Cape Town International Jazz Festival
If you prefer your music festivals a bit more sophisticated, then book your tickets timely for the Cape Town International Jazz Festival. Tickets sell out almost instantaneously, and it’s not hard to understand why. The lineup features the best of local and international jazz, with a handful of headliners that break the mould. It’s without doubt the most celebrated music festival that takes place in the centre of Cape Town each year. If you miss out on tickets, or simply can’t afford them, keep an eye out for the free concert that takes place in Greenmarket Square leading up to the main event.
CTICC, Convention Square, 1 Lower Long Street, Cape Town, South Africa, http://www.capetownjazzfest.com
If the thought of driving a few hundred kilometres to your music festival isn’t appealing, keep an eye out for Parklife – another Cape Town music festival that takes place close to the city. The single day event features a range of bands, including at least one high-profile international headliner, at a suitably park-like venue close to the Cape Town CBD.