As I thundered along the dirt road in my cloud of dust, I wondered what my first ever festival experience would bring. My life is so different 1.5 years after swapping corporate for country, colleagues for cows, keyboard for camera, alcohol for clean air, and an office for the great outdoors. What would I find for my untrained eyes at Splashy Fen Festival?
Since 1990 Splashy Fen Festival has been an annual pilgrimage for festival lovers from around the globe, the R617 to Underberg transformed into a busy thoroughfare of 7000+ happy travellers, excited to spend their 4-day Easter weekend high in the mountains of Kwa Zulu Natal (KZN).
The grounds are massive so although the number of people is high, the banks of Mzimude River and the sprawling plains below Bamboo Mountain can easily pull it off.
Five stages, family & regular camping areas, tented village, market, gin garden, entertainment, beverage & food vendors. And while you’re at it, you can check these off your bucketlist too:
View the Southern Drakensberg from a handmade viewing platform & sculpture created out of wattle by renowned KZN artist Kim Goodwin.
Swim in a river at exactly 1 mile above sea level, surrounded by the Drakensberg mountains, whose highest point is 3482 meters and stretch 1000 kilometres in length.
Sculptured metal works, live performers, drumming & didgeridoo lessons, face painting, live art and colour; so much glorious colour surrounded by tall trees, grassy hills and wandering slopes of the Southern Drakensberg.
Every morning a trail run, yoga, group drumming and didgeridoo lessons before the stages come alive with local and international acts like Mango Groove, Prime Circle, Bowling for Soup (USA) & Napalma (BRA / MOZ). Children also enjoy the festival, with their own dedicated zone, minded by a team of professionals and complete with fun activities.
I found myself most drawn to the Tree House Stage, where every process seemed so beautiful I just wanted to be still…and then rush around madly trying capture the endless imagination and wonder that passed my eyes with flying colours.
People of all ages and all kinds find their way to the festival, a place of harmonious diversity. There are the nature-lovers, the young party crowd, the artists, music & art admirers, families, girls on a getaway, boys camp-away, the stalwart hippies, middle-aged couples – all at Splashy Fen because it has something just for them.
So even someone like me found their place at Splashy Fen. I looked down the barrel of each loaded strum, and I found what appealed to my untrained eye and fluttered my heart. I was glad to trade my cows for cars, my solitude for welcoming company, culture and colour.
Beauty may be in the eye of the web trawler, but you can’t feel everything through media. And the feel, the vibe is what struck me most: tangible happiness of comraderie and celebration of life, nature, art, colour and music. I saw people finding a pitch to their tent, the beat to their drum, the soul to their feet. And when the cold of the mountains arrived, I saw the philosophy: he who smiles the biggest is the warmest 😊