A Year of Festivals in Africa

Africa is synonymous to music, so are [musical] festivals. In the African societies, musical celebrations are authentic to the continent’s cultural atmosphere, although not organized and made to market for and/ serve the global stage. Still and all, over the last few years the landscape has been shifting with festivals such as the Festival au Desert (originating from the traditional Touareg festivities), the Ougadougou festivals, Sauti za Busara (music on the Island of Zanzibar) and African artists such as the Malians taking their sounds to the global stage, the international interest in African music, though always there, is at its highest. With such interests and a growing appeal for international participation some of the continent’s festivals have gone global.

This year we look forward to a year [full] of festivals. From the many, here is our selection of festivals we look forward to in 2014:

Asa Baako, Ghana
March 7-9

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Peter Mawanga, photo from

A free event, Asa Baako is a music, dance and arts festival held in the tropical fishing village of Busua Beach, Ghana. An event that celebrates Africa and African inspired music and culture while enjoying the beautiful beach of Ghana.

Lake of Stars, Malawi
September 26-28

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Photo from Malawi Tourism

On the sandy shores of Lake Malawi is Africa’s beach party under the ‘stars’. A place to discover the ‘sights’ and ‘sounds’ of Malawi over 3 days of festivities. Lake of Stars is a festival to be experienced.

Sauti za Busara, Zanzibar
February 13-16

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Photo by Peter Stanley for Sauti za Busara

The beautiful island of Zanzibar’s Sauti za Busara (in Swahili: “sounds of wisdom”) showcases the best in African music (and its Diaspora) over 4 nights in historic Stone Town. It brings together people from all walks of life in celebration of the wealth and variety of African culture.

HIFA, Zimbabwe
April 29- May 4

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The Noisettes, photo from

Noted as the “grand daddy” of African music festivals HIFA is for lovers of art. In its 15th edition, the annual festival is over 6 days of festival and workshop programmes showcasing the very best of local, regional and international arts and culture in a comprehensive festival programme of theatre, dance, music, circus, street performance, spoken word, and visual arts.

Bushfire, Swaziland
May 30 – June 1

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Photo from

Featured by MTV IGGY as “one of the top ten international festivals to visit this summer” Bushfire is 3-day festival featuring music, dance, art, theatre, poetry, circus performers and more, across acres of pristine farmland. A festival celebrating creative expression while promoting social responsibility.

KigaliUp, Rwanda
July 19-20

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Photo from

The name “Kigali Up” tells it all: a festival aiming to enrich the cultural landscape, enhance the capacity of the music and art industry, and contribute to cultural tourism and economic development in Rwanda by promoting original music – from independent artists throughout Africa and the African Diaspora.

Saint Louis Jazz Festival, Senegal
June 4-9

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Raved as ‘more than an event’ the Festival International de Jass de Saint Louis has become a significant part of the cultural and musical landscape of Senegal. Showcasing Jazz, blues, gospel and related music while offering the stage to 30 new groups yearly, it has come to be known as a platform for new Jazz groups.

Fes Festival of World Sacred Music, Morocco
June 8-16

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Amadou and Mariam, photo by Frederic Polettti for Telegraph

In its 20th edition, the Fes Festival is one of the signature events of the ‘spirit’ of Fes Foundation. The aim of the festival is to harness the arts and spirituality in the service of human and social development, and the relationship between peoples and cultures.

Cape Town Jazz Festival, South Africa
March 28 – 29

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Photo from

Cape Town Jazz Festival, in its 15th year promises an all-star line-up. Known as Africa’s grandest gathering it brings more than 40 international and local artists to perform over two days on five stages.

Festival sur le Niger
February 5- 9

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Bako Dangon, photo from

Born, as an initiative long dreamed of by the civic and cultural leaders of the Segou, the Festival sur Le Niger, now in its 10th year, has rapidly become a major cultural event. Held in the city of Segou, the festival is a multidisciplinary event, offing a program of music, dance, theater, art exhibitions, discussion forums, conferences and more. It’s a festival where contemporary culture exists alongside ancient tradition and international music stars play alongside fresh young talent.

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