Splashy Fen: South Africa’s premier music festival

The Splashy Fen music festival is only three days away! We’re buzzing with excitement here at the Gloucester Blues headquarters (a secret bunker 20,000 leagues under the ocean guarded by well-trained and surprisingly aggressive cleaner shrimp). The festival promises to be a goodie, with artists like Vusi Mahlasela, Dan Patlansky, The Boulevard Blues Band, Boo!, The Hairy Legged Lentil Eaters, AC/DC (okay so they aren’t so much playing as they are being played out of the back of a VW, but we can dream can’t we?).

For the uninitiated, Splashy Fen is a popular stalwart on the South African music calendar. The festival has been around since 1990 and is the country’s longest-running event of its kind. Every year over Easter, an unassuming farm sheltered in the mountainous beauty of KwaZulu-Natal’s Drakensberg is stormed by thousands of colourful people who flock in their droves to embrace this unique outdoor festival. It’s a four day line-up of fantastic music, arts and crafts, outdoor leisure activities and general marvelous debauchery.

A Splashy Fen sunrise

The seeds of Splashy were first planted when Peter and Almary Ferraz visited the Festival of the Flower Children at Woburn Abbey in England in 1967. They decided a music festival was indeed the dog’s bits and after a decade or two the couple bought a farm in Underberg and made the dream a reality. On a chilly October morning in 1990, the first ever Splashy Fen kicked off. The festival drew an unexpected 1200 people (the Ferrazs were expecting about 200!) and they all sat around campfires and listened to the likes of Syd Kitchen (who sadly passed away recently) and Tony Cox. Everyone had a jolly good time and decided to pop round the next year and do it all again (although this time, they held the event a little earlier in the year, the snow on the last night of the inaugural Splashy was mildly unpleasant). The event grew rapidly in stature and soon the tractor powered generator was replaced with permanent power and the festival-goers chucked away the old poo-spade in favour of long drops and portable loos.

Gloucester Blues Project guitarist Andrew Dickinson on stage at Splashy Fen '09Today Splashy Fen is one of the most recognisable events on the South Africa musical calendar and is regarded by many as the country’s premier music festival. This year will be the 22nd Splashy and is expected to draw the usual 10,000 eager campers and musicians.

We’ll take to the stage on the Sunday afternoon at 13h00. Hope to see you all there!

WARNING: Regular Splashy Fenners may smell odd and have a faraway look in their eyes, they are harmless and will gladly share their wisdom with you should you seek guidance. The toilets will not be pleasant, the river is ridiculously cold, do not attempt to climb a mountain in the dark unless you require painfully hilarious consequences. Splashy Fen may cause nausea, in the case of overindulgence, induce vomiting.

A flag we created at Splashy Fen '07

~ by Ian on April 18, 2011.

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