About This Festival
Founded in 1994, Oppikoppi (derived from the Afrikaans “op die koppie” or “on the hill”) is South Africa’s single largest music festival with attendance topping 20,000 revelers in 2012 and more year on year. The inaugural event primarily featured South African rock ‘n’ roll bands, and has since expanded to include a myriad of genres including hip hop, jazz, EDM, metal, soul, and kwaito—a purely South African spin on house music, remixing tribal rhythms to create the beats for inimitably danceable songs.
Like Burning Man or the Nowhere Festival, Oppikoppi is defined by its location. Nestled amongst hills in the northern most state Limpopo, the bushveld is a harsh and beautiful landscape. Scrub brush and thorny trees dot the savannah, and red dust covers everything. In fact, drawing in the dust that covers cars and bakkies is a time honored tradition of the festival. Nearby Kruger National Park—possibly the single greatest nature preserve on the African continent—offers the opportunity to add a safari on to your trip before or after the festival.
Because it’s located practically in the middle of nowhere, there is a hippie survivalist bent to the festival. Bands, DJs, and comedians perform on Fridays through Sundays, but the grounds open the Tuesday prior to the main event, creating a pre-festival atmosphere in a temporary tent city. And you will be staying in a tent. Camping is the only option here, unless you stay at the Kreef Hotel, a private moderate-to-luxury tent hotel. Drawing generally a younger crowd, you can expect lots of partying—day drinking, pot, and whatever the drug du jour is that accompanies electronic dance music. The climate is extreme, with days being incredibly hot, and the nights can drop near freezing. They don’t call the main camping area Mordor for nothing.
Like it’s festi-cousin Roskilde in Denmark, Oppikoppi holds a series of competitions with the winners getting passes for the next year’s festival. Officially called the Dustbowl Olympics, events include Box Car Races, the Boom Street 500 Naked Dash (rules: you must wear shoes, but you cannot wear clothes), Running of the Bewilderbeats in 2013 (the opposite of the naked dash, since you must wear a costume), and the Wil(d)abong Surf Classic (teams pull a member across the dust on a surf board).