Float your boat Up The Creek at Cape Town’s most laid-back music festival

If you find yourself emerged to the hips in a slow-flowing river while grooving to the funk-ska sounds of a live band playing on the riverbank, you’d better drink that experience in, as Up the Creek comes round but once a year.

Just about two hours’ drive from Cape Town (plus a short dirt road slicing through lush farmlands), about 2 000 “Creekers” converge on the banks of the Breede River in the high time of summer (usually late January or early February) for Up the Creek – one of the smaller offerings on the South African festival calender. However, the intimacy and freedom of movement found at this festival are but two of many, many good reasons music lovers from Cape Town and all over South Africa keep returning to experience the delight of Up the Creek.

Though excellent line-ups of rockers, DJ’s and mellow one-man acoustic acts continually ensure there’s no lack of quality music (several food stalls and bars take care of the other needs), the highlight of Up the Creek is without doubt the mornings and afternoons spent in the river. Nothing quite compares to that feeling of splashing your fists furiously into the water – to indicate applause, you see – while the most colourful and creative floatables (I’ve even seen an active barbeque station drifting around, operated as if it’s the most natural thing in the world) add to the festival character unique to Up the Creek.

Swimming attire is a must if you’re heading to Up the Creek … though not compulsory if you’ll be one of the many “Creekers” indulging in a late-night river dip.