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.
Publicist Liny Kruger has worked with some of this country’s top musicians over the last two decades and knows what it takes to put on a well-orchestrated event. She shares her top three summer music festivals in Cape Town.
RAMfest (Real Alternative Music) is a raucous spectacle of sound and light, an adrenal delight of the fun and chaos that alternative culture brings to a solid community that loves this music. It showcases the best in local and international alternative music. The Fourie brothers, who started RAMfest 10 years ago (and partner with Hilltop Live), take special care with the infrastructure of the festival, which has no determined venue (the 10th anniversary event takes place at Coetsenberg Stadium in Stellenbosch in March 2016), Whatever the venue, expect big impressive stages, only the best tents, gear and even fencing – I love that they love their festival.
To my knowledge Up the Creek is the only festival in South Africa that has a stage on a river. Set on the banks of the Breede River just outside Swellendam, about 200 kilometres from Cape Town, festivalgoers get to watch bands while floating on an array of colourful lilos. The capacity is limited to 3 000 people, so it almost feels like a VIP weekend away for all who attend. It’s a festival that has grown into its skin over a period of 25 years. The organisers could make it bigger, but have decided against it. The small size of the festival has much to do with its personality – fun-loving, water-based, dance vibes; a fantastic riverside venue that is not overcrowded. One of the best weekends away you will ever have – and child-friendly too.
Rocking the Daisies is an established annual rock music festival with a blooming future. Set on Cloof Wine Estate in Darling, just an hour’s drive from Cape Town, it is also at the forefront of innovative growth and design that includes green initiatives, impressive apps and ticket down-payment options as part of the festival experience. From folk to electronic, Rocking the Daisies caters to all musical tastes, and makes for a fabulous weekend of musical delight.