Electronic music festivals in South Africa are immersed in glorious scenery ranging from wineries to mountains, beaches, and even a desert. South Africa is rich in diversity and has a burgeoning music festival scene that cannot be missed.
Electronic music is prevalent in the rainbow nation. Expect to hear everything from hypnotic afro-house to uplifting disco and foot-stomping psychedelic trance.
Here (in no particular order) are the best electronic music festivals in South Africa.
*At the time of writing, the world is in the midst of a pandemic, so many of these festivals have yet to confirm their 2021/22 dates. And some are skipping straight to 2022 as the uncertainty continues.
Welcome to the African Burning Man regional. Afrikaburn isn’t so much a festival as it is an experience. While there are DJs and spontaneous dance floors, you aren’t meant to be anywhere at any particular time.
The nature of this regional event is to explore and immerse yourself in whatever is playful and entertaining. It follows a strict leave no trace, and that means no trace. Even your rubbish leaves with you. Make sure you have everything you need as not even water is available.
The festival runs on a cashless economy which means nothing is for sale. You simply gift things to people or barter. However, it’s not like haggling at a market; think of it more like the best of humanity all in one place. People are incredibly generous, and there’s plenty of immersive art, mutant vehicles, and desert to frolic in.
Tankwa Town is 100 km away from any main (tarred) roads, so it’s the perfect isolated desert location to get lost and explore the weird and wonderful.
Return To The Source
What we love most about Return To The Source is their commitment to nurture and maintain a conscious community. It’s not about ticket sales and increasing capacity for the sake of it.
They care about attracting the right kind of people, and they have successfully done that by building a loyal community from South Africa, to Brasil, to Germany.
But, of course, attracting conscious revellers from abroad wouldn’t be possible if the festival wasn’t something extraordinary.
Special it is. The culmination of art, community and music is all beautifully interwoven by The Spirit Train into this experience-based event.
Be sure to look out for Lobo and be treated to his Steam Punk Soundsystem. This glorious machine is well-travelled and has attended events all over South Africa.
Lobo is the tribe’s wolf protector and fights to ensure full engagement of the senses and complete consciousness. Lobo is the perfect creation combining The Spirit Trains’ team expertise and passion for conscious experience-based events.
Described as 3 days of “music, art and absurdism”, this gem of a festival easily glides into this list as one not to be missed on your South African visit.
With three distinct stages, Bazique features loads of hidden places to explore. This event will keep you entertained by bringing in some of the best DJs from South Africa to put on a great festival in beautiful Western Cape scenery. One thing unique about Bazique is La Fee Verte, an electric ballroom and whisky bar – a rather special stage for a festival. Bazique will keep you intrigued and curious about all things bizarre and intriguing.
The event is organised by the same team that organise other great festivals in the Western Cape, including Cape Town Electronic Music Festival and Wolfkop Weekender.
Many festivals in South Africa take place in its’ Western Cape province. When you see the scenery, you’ll understand why. Smalltown Beat is no exception and takes place on a glorious river with mountains as its backdrop.
There aren’t many places in the world where you can enjoy some great tunes as well as some of the best scenery you’ve ever seen. You can expect to see some quirky installations (as well as attendees) and also enjoy what has remained a smaller festival attendance. There is also the chance to participate in some of the art installations if you happen to have an idea for one.
Many of the electronic South African festivals cater to the creative, so this could be an excellent way to remember the experience if you’re feeling adventurous. Some of the proceeds from the festival go back into the surrounding environment, and keeping the festival smaller has meant the festival can limit its carbon footprint.
The late 2000s saw the first editions of the Western Cape’s psytrance events. Origin has now adapted into a techno-shamanic festival, but the sense of community remains after more than 15 years.
A South African music festival like this can’t be missed. You’ll be treated to a great venue with lots of interesting characters and, best of all, good vibes. While being a modest festival, Origin brings in lots of acts from the UK and Europe, and we can understand why the DJs come back year after year. It’s the perfect mix of laidback revellers and some of the best music all in one place.
South African festivals are also paving the way with reducing the impact on the festival venues by prohibiting harmful litter like confetti and cigarette buts.
You’ll once again be surrounded by decorated dancefloors and art installations which make Origin festival a special one.
Wolfkop Weekender put on multiple events, but we’d recommend the authentic South African Electronic Music Festival experience by attending the Lilo River Flow.
As this incredible venue is set on a river, you can sit in a floatie and enjoy the scenic valley and some good music. Some of the best festivals are started by groups of friends. Who, upon discovering a great location, bring their buddies along for the ride. Wolfkop Weekender is one such festival.
Taking place in the mid-summer heat, be sure to pack your cozzie (South African word for bathing suit) and sunscreen cause it’ll be scorching! The other events offered by the same group include Power Flower Picnic and Cooked Sister.
Aptly named, this festival does, in fact, take place near a lighthouse. Known as ‘electronic music on vacation’, the organiser’s host events around the world. Floyd Lavine played at the 2019 edition, and we’d argue seeing him alone would be worth it.
At a humble 3000 person capacity and right on the beach, this festival is a perfect one to see some sensational South African DJs put on a show. There are also international acts that come for this one, so it’s a great option to rope in your mates.
LHFSA is the sister event of Croatia’s Lighthouse festival, which showcases South Africa as a great place to have a jol (South African word for party). They’ve also expanded to host a similar event in Johannesburg which offers a similar line-up.
As we mentioned, South Africa has a pretty extensive psytrance scene, so there are plenty of boutique festivals to choose from in the Western and Eastern Cape.
However, Vortex has to be top of the list on account of its prowess. You can’t say you’ve done a psytrance festival in SA without doing Vortex. There are summer and winter solstice events at the heart of this festival. All psytrance festivals in South Africa are about light.
This is a five-day festival so prepare yourself because it requires a marathon, not a sprint, to get you through this one. As with any trance party, the best happens before dawn, and the music won’t be stopping before 10am (if it stops at all). You’ll need some stamina, but there’s nothing better than dancing barefoot in the forest.
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