THE TOP FESTIVALS IN AFRICA THAT YOU SHOULD ABSOLUTELY EXPERIENCE @ LEAST ONCE IN YOUR LIFE

The Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF), also known as Festival of the Dhow Countries, is an annual film festival held in Zanzibar Tanzania. It has been described as the largest cultural event in East Africa. ZIFF is a non-governmental organization established in 1997 to develop and promote film and other cultural industries as catalyst for the regional social and economic growth. The annual multi disciplinary arts and cultural festival is ZIFF’s major activity; the festival is an all-arts affair, with 8 days of local and international discussion panels, workshops, 10 days of screenings of the best local and international cinema and evenings of musical concerts including a Gala each evening. All festival programs are a culmination of the realization of the capacity of film to fuse together the best of each art-form, offering a wide range of Entertainment, Educating and Networking options for world audiences. The festival is arguably the largest multi disciplinary art and cultural festival in Africa, and continues to lead as a tourist attraction event in the region. ZIFF now gives 12 International Awards presented by 5 International Juries. It is estimated that 7000 western tourists came to Zanzibar to attend the festival and the total festival audience was in excess of 100,000 with wide appeal across race, class and religions. It’s impact on the economy of Zanzibar is unquestionable. 
The ZIFF festival now runs 15 programs over the 10 days that include:
1.    Film Competition
2.   Film Workshops
3.   Opening and Closing Nights
4.   Film Outreach Projections
5.   Women panorama
6.   Children panorama
7.   Village panorama
8.   Festival of Festivals
9.   Soko Film
10.                       Art and Exhibition
11. Children Film panorama
12.                       UNICEF Life skills Camps
13.                       Children Peace camps
14.                       Difficult Dialogues
15.                       Historical and Cultural Village Tours
During the festival, films are shown in Stone Town in Zanzibar City, as well as rural Zanzibari villages

 Festival au Désert, Mali
It takes a bit of effort to get to the Malian desert, but if you’re up for a bit of an adventure then the Festival au Désert is definitely worth it. Held on sand dunes near Timbuktu, this three-day festival has performances from award-winning Malian musicians such as Tinariwen, as well as other African acts and some international performers. This is probably Africa’s most exotic festival: expect to share the dance floor with camels and turbaned desert nomads.

Dates: 9 to 11 January 2014
Venue: Timbuktu, Mali 

Up the Creek, South Africa
This small, laidback festival is all about the creek – otherwise known as the Breede River. There are stages on land, with blues, indie and rock bands, but the river stage is definitely the highlight. Floating on a lilo and splashing around on a dance floor in the river to your favourite bands is the best way to spend a summer weekend.

Dates: 30 Jan to 2 Feb 2014
Venue: Swellendam, Western Cape, South Africa

Sauti za Busara, Zanzibar 
Running for 10 years, Sauti za Busara is East Africa’s biggest music festival, with hundreds of musicians from all over the continent and performances in an open-air amphitheatre. Stone Town is awash with the sounds of the continent for four days as fringe performances – impromptu and planned – take place all over town.

Dates: 13 to 16 February 2014
Venue: Stonetown, Zanzibar

Cape Town Jazz Festival, South Africa
More than 30 000 people attend this festival, which has been voted one of the best in the world. Now in its 15th year, it showcases more than 40 local and international artists (such as Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Jill Scott) who perform on five stages at the two-day event. If you can’t get a ticket to the popular event, there’s a free outdoor community concert  in Cape Town held just before the festival.

Dates: 28 and 29 March 2014
Venue: Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

 Splashy Fen, South Africa
With an eclectic mix of music from folk to rap, fun outdoor activities, luxury camping and a beautiful setting at the foot of the Drakensberg mountains, Splashy Fen is a popular music festival for families. 

Dates: 17 to 21 April 2014
Venue: Splashy Fen farm, Underberg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

 Gnaoua World Music Festival, Morocco
Traditional Gnaoua musicians (descendants of slaves from sub-Saharan Africa) are joined by jazz, pop and rock performers at this annual festival that draws hundreds of thousands of people. Performances, many of which are free, take place at different spots around the coastal fortified town of Essouira, with its narrow alleyways and bustling bazaars.

Dates: 12 to 15 June 2014
Venue: Essouira, Morocco

Lake of Stars, Malawi
Malawi’s picturesque lake is the perfect setting for a music festival: imagine swimming in the calm water in between performances, or lying on the beach under the shade of a palm tree listening to bands. The line up is a diverse mix of music, from afro pop to indie rock, and there are local acts alongside international bands and DJs (such as the Foals and Freshlyground). 

Dates: September/October 2014 (TBC)
Venue: Lake Malawi (location TBC), Malawi

 Rocking the Daisies, South Africa
The Western Cape’s biggest music festival sees 17 000 revellers partying for four days on a beautiful wine farm at the beginning of spring each year. With eight stages featuring the best local bands and DJs alongside international acts such as Bloc Party, a comedy tent as well as great food and wine tasting, it’s easy to see why it sells out. 

Dates: October 2014 (TBC)
Venue: Cloof Wine Estate, Darling, Western Cape, South Africa

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