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Top 20 Music Festivals in Africa

Top 20 Music Festivals in Africa

On a continent with such a deep-rooted culture of music, it's only right that there's no shortage of amazing festivals. From celebrations of traditional sounds to modern flag-bearers of burgeoning new scenes, here are our favourites. 

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Headliners (2017): Chic & Nile Rodgers, Ellie Goulding, Wiz Khalifa, Lauryn Hill

With total attendance figures for the week-long festival regularly topping 2 million, this Moroccan fiesta is one of the biggest music festivals anywhere in the world. And when the lineup includes bona fide international megastars like Rihanna, Stevie Wonder, Avicii or Pharrell Williams each year, it's easy to see why.

When & where: 22-30 June 2018; Rabat, Morocco 

Sauti za Busara

(2018): El Dey, Ribab Fusion, Makadem

While some festivals relish the opportunity to bring overseas stars to perform in Africa, Sauti za Busara – translated as Sounds of Wisdom – wholeheartedly and exclusively celebrates African talent, with a lineup showcasing diverse acts from all corners of the vibrant continent.

When & where: February 2019; Zanzibar

Cape Town International Jazz Festival

Seu Jorge, Corinne Bailey Rae, Amanda Black, Trombone Shorty

South Africa's coastal capital plays host to the festival that calls itself 'Africa's Grandest Gathering', featuring performers not just from the jazz world but also from soul, funk, hip-hop, Afropop and more.

When & where: 23-24 March 2018; Cape Town, South Africa 

Oasis Festival

Headliners: Carl Cox, The Black Madonna B2B Derrick Carter, Nastia

Oasis is already staking its claim as one of the most exciting electronic music festivals anywhere in the world, despite only launching in 2015. Carefully curated lineups combine with a stunning location, leading the charge for North Africa's blossoming underground scene.

When & where: 14-16 September; Marrakech, Morocco

Festicket Guide / Book Oasis Festival 2018

Lake of Stars

(2016): Freshlyground, Timo Maas, Roberto, My Nu Leng

Established back in 2004 by a British student, the Malawian festival is now one of Africa's most globally recognised. Each year the lineup celebrates Malawian and African musical talent, while also including a selection of British/Western acts – including the likes of Foals, The Maccabees and Young Fathers over recent years.

When & where: 28-30 September 2018; Lake Malawi, Malawi  


Headliners: Beth Ditto, Morcheeba, Tom Odell

Of all the festivals, in all the towns, in all the world...

This week-long affair is dedicated to jazz music, its enduring legacy, and its modern proponents, from stages in the city's grand squares to a purpose-built intimate jazz club.

When & where: 14-22 April 2018; Casablanca, Morocco 

Festicket Guide / Join 2018 Waiting List



Headliners (2017): YCEE, Davido, Sir Shina Peters, Kiss Daniel

Few African musicians have achieved such global recognition, respect and fame as Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. Felabration was first organised in 1998 by Yeni Kuti to honour her father's legacy. It is now a stalwart of the African festival scene and a huge celebration of the iconic figure, held in the Nigerian city of Ikeja each year on the week of his birthday.

When & where: October 2018; Ikeja, Nigeria


Headliners (2017): Âme, Mike Servito, Butch

One of the major players in developing Africa's burgeoning electronic music scene. Held on the stretch of Egypt's coast known as the 'Red Sea Riviera', the festival doesn't rest on the laurels of its beautiful location, with a lineup that offers a platform for local talent as well as featuring globally respected figures from underground house and techno. 

When & where: 3-5 May 2018; El Gouna, Egypt

Festicket Guide / Book Sandbox 2018


Headliners (2017): Two Door Cinema Club, Flume, Beatenberg, Black Coffee 

Formerly a champion of the harder-edged side of rock music (Wolfmother, Deftones, Gogol Bordello and Bullet For My Valentine are among those to appear), this South African festival has diversified in recent years with pop, indie, hiphop and dance music now sharing top billing out in the bush.

When & where: October 2018; nr. Northam, South Africa 

Amani Festival

Headliners (2018): Dub Inc, Chameleone, Ferre Gola 

For only $1 per ticket, Amani Festival combines the old and the new of Congolese music and culture. Traditional dance, theatre and craft from the surrounding regions are celebrated alongside modern stars of African music, rap, reggae and pop, while young entrepreneurs have a chance to showcase their ideas at the on-site exhibition.

When & where: February 2019; Goma, DR Congo


Previous Performers: Diplo, Oliver Koletzki, MK 

Africa's answer to the iconic American festival/gathering Burning Man – complete with mutant vehicles, spectacular daily burns, the core principles of self-expression, community and tolerance, and a soundtrack of electronic music from more or less whoever wants to play.

When & where: 23-29 April 2018; Tankwa, South Africa 

Afropunk Johannesburg

Headliners (2017): Anderson .Paak, Laura Mvula, Black Motion

Although it was established in Brooklyn in the early 2000s, its fair to say the spiritual home of the now worldwide movement is the continent of Africa; given its celebration of the talent, strength, solidarity and beauty of the global African diaspora.

When & where: 2018 Dates TBA; Johannesburg, South Africa 


Headliners (2017): Carlinhos Brown, Hindi Zahra, Lucky Peterson, Bill Laurance 

A real melting pot of music and cultural fusion, blending the traditional rhythms of spiritual Gnawa music with modern musical sounds and styles from across the globe.  

When & where: 21-24 June 2018; Essaouira, Morocco 

Festicket Guide / 2018 Waiting List


Headliners: Hugh Masakela, Faada Freddy, GoodLuck, Baloji

Swaziland's flag-bearer is one of Africa's best-known and best-loved festivals, with recognition and awards from across the globe. A big part of this comes from its commitment to social responsibility, with all profits going to charities that support local communities and help to fund development projects.

When & where: 25-27 May 2018; Malkerns, Swaziland



(2017): Habib Koité & Friends, Rocky Dawuni, Kareyce Fotso 

HIFA – the Harare International Festival of the Arts – has been showcasing all manner of artistic and creative talent in the Zimbabwean capital for almost two decades. Music, dance, theatre, spoken word and design all make up the six-day programme.

When & where: 1-6 May 2018; Harare, Zimbabwe 

Cape Town Electronic Music Festival 

Headliners: DJ Stingray, Deetron, The Hacker, Egyptian Lover

Established as a platform for South Africa's blossoming electronic music scene, the festival now balances internationally revered DJs and emerging local talent on their consistently forward-thinking lineup, spanning techno, house, electro, bass and experimental sounds. 

When & where: 6-8 April 2018; Cape Town, South Africa

Rocking the Daisies

Headliners (2017): Flume, Two Door Cinema Club, Black Coffee, Joey Bada$$

In terms of your 'classic' open-air music festival – one ticket for a whole summer weekend, a green space with several stages, camping, a multi-genre lineup – they don't come much bigger in Africa than Rocking the Daisies, held each year in the wine-growing region of the Western Cape.

When & where: 2018 Date TBA; Darling, South Africa

Atlas Electronic

Jamie xx, John Talabot, Ben UFO, Pearson Sound

Another major player in Africa's new wave of electronic music festivals, with increasingly impressive lineups of forward-thinking and innovative DJs, producers and live acts year on year.

When & where: 30 August - 3 September; Marrakech, Morocco


Ultra South Africa

Headliners: Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, Axwell Λ Ingrosso, Dubfire, Hardwell

At this point, the Ultra Music brand needs very little introduction. Their flagship party in Miami is now two decades old, but it's only in the last 5 or 6 years that the global family has truly established itself. And at present, the South African duo – held in the country's biggest cities – are the only African satellites of the dance music giant.

When & where: 9 February 2018, Cape Town & 10 February 2018, Johannesburg

Cape Town Guide / 2018 Waiting List
Johannesburg Guide / 2018 Waiting List


Up The Creek

Headliners (2017): Mango Groove, Fokofpolisiekar, The Kiffness

While the music on offer is certainly not to be sniffed at, this festival is really only about one thing: the location. Held on the banks of the Breede River, hundreds of fans congregate on the water's surface on inflatable dinghies, lilos, inflatable animals and basically anything that floats.

When & where: January 2019; Barrydale, South Africa


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