Need beyond summer concerts and festival plans? Dream Africa got you covered. African music festivals are just the place for authentic African musical connections, offering a combination of Africa’s heritage, legendary performances and Afro-vibes that remind you how to groove. Whether you’re in the mood for a one-day Afrobeats musical extravaganza, or a month-long festival travel across Africa, this list will help you craft an unforgettable Africa’s uniqueness. We line up Africa’s most iconic music festivals from bucket list-worthy events like Malawi’s Lake of Stars to quite possibly the biggest urban music beach festival – Afro Nation Ghana. Here are some of the best music festivals in Africa you should add to your bucket list.
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Lake of Stars Festival, Malawi
The Lake of Stars Festival is easily the best festival in Malawi, an annual three-day international African music festival held every September on the shores of Lake Malawi. Lake of Stars promotes Malawian music, arts and tourism through international interaction and exposure. Beyond music, the festival also includes talks, similar to TED talks, theatre, clowns, dance and mixed martial arts. The festival attracts thousands of attendees from around the world who are thrilled with energetic performances from local, continental and global artists. Festival don’t get better than music on the sandy palm-fringed beaches on the Lake Malawi, makes it one of the world’s best music festivals.
Bushfire festival is an annual explosion of entertainment hosted in the House on Fire, in the heart of the Malkerns Valley, Swaziland. Taking place in the month of May, a feast for the senses, the 3-day festival sees this part of Swaziland taken over by music, alcohol and visitors looking for a good time. Over 20,000 residents and tourists descend upon the town to experience this internationally acclaimed African music and arts festival. Planning a trip and want to know how to make the most of your time? See our Bushfire festival need-to-know guide.
Calabar Carnival, Nigeria
The Calabar carnival is one of the best annual cultural festivals in Nigeria as well as in Africa. Considered Africa’s biggest street party due to its wild street parties and extravagant costumes. This an annual event that is month-long; begins every 1 December and lasts until 31 December. Catchy music that take over Calabar for a couple of weeks before the new year. A festival like no other with unique carnival culture. The carnival has boosted cultural relevance of the Calabar within and outside the State, as well as beyond Nigeria.
Cape Town Jazz Festival, South Africa
Don’t let life go by without revelling in the creative energy of Cape Town, South Africa, during the Cape Town Jazz Festival. This 2-day global music festival offers an eclectic mix of mainstream jazz and African sounds. A star-studded line-up thrilling festival-goers with a significant number of global and local jazz performers. With five stages and over 40 performers, this is one of the largest music events in Africa. The Cape Town Jazz Festival is definitely a must–see music festival on the continent.
Festival au Désert, Mali
Considered by many as the best festival in Mali, the Festival au Désert, is an annual concert in Timbuktu. Showcasing traditional Tuareg music, the nomadic ethnic of the Sahara Desert, as well as rock music from around the world. Sounds from desert, music in the nature, you’re welcome to come and party it up like a rockstar!
Mawazine aka the Mawazine Festival Rhythms of the World, is one of the best known and recognized events in Africa. Each year, more than 2 million festival-goers attend this nine-day festival in Morocco, and watched by tens of millions of viewers worldwide. It has come a long way since its creation in 2001, and showing no signs of slowing down. A platform that allows the Moroccan music and art scene to find a global showcase, but also reflects the diversity and richness of the world cultures. This Moroccan International music festival is one of the biggest music festivals anywhere in the world. When the festival has been headlined each by legendary artists like Bruno Mars, The Weeknd, Enrique Iglesias, French Montana, Charles Aznavour, Quincy Jones, Jamiroquai, Lionel Richie, Sting, Wael Jassar, or Alicia Keys, it’s easy to see why.
Afropunk Joburg, South Africa
Afropunk is committed in promoting Africa’s heritage and showcasing Africa’s uniqueness to the world. Defining culture by the collective creative actions allowing people to live your life as you see fit. Festival goers will get to enjoy live music from top South African, continental and international urban acts in Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city and one of the most visited tourist cities in the continent.
Sauti za Busara, Zanzibar
Sauti za Busara is one of the largest African music festivals in East Africa, held every year in February in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Beyond the music, it provides tourists a chance to witness and enjoy the scenic views of Zanzibar. Zanzibar is on our Africa’s top 20 best beaches 2019 as well as one the best island honeymoon destinations in Africa.
Felabration is simply one of the best things to do in Lagos, Nigeria. An annual week-long music festival held at the New Afrika Shrine, celebrating the memory and life of Fela Kuti, the pioneer of Afrobeat and one of the greatest African musicians of all time. Felabration was established in 1998 by Yeni Anikulapo Kuti, Fela’s daughter, the event usually takes place in October, over the week of Fela’s birthday. This African music festival is a must-see because it focuses on promoting the understanding of Afrobeats’ origin.
Afro Nation Festival, Ghana
The Afro Nation Festival is dynamic music event that focuses on promoting the Africa’s uniqueness to the world through Afrobeats. Arguably one of the biggest urban music beach festival in the world returns to Africa on December 27th – 31th 2019 in Ghana. Right on Ghana’s stunning coastline, destination to some of the best beaches in Ghana. What are the Afro Nation Ghana festival dates? The festival starts on Friday, December 27th and ends on the morning of Tuesday, December 31st 2019. Click here for tickets and general info.
Sandbox Festival, Egypt
Set in the stunning grounds of Gouna Red Sea, Sandbox is the largest electronic music festival in Egypt. An African music festival celebrating in the laurels of Red Sea’s beautiful location – offering visitors the chance to see performances by incredible talent from house and techno artists.
Silver Mountain Music Festival, South Africa
Bringing music to the highlands of Western Cape, South Africa, each year, the Silver Mountain Music Festival, hits Cape Town for its annual four-day festival. Held in the magical Grootvadersbosch Valley, the festival is all about celebrating music, nature and country living. Overberg region in the Western Cape and its neighbourhood will be taken over by a glorious weekend of fun, entertainment and culture. Visitors will also have access to adventure across the Grootvadersbosch Conservancy which offers hiking and mountain bike trails. More information about the festival can be accessed here.