About This Festival
From its humble beginnings in 1990, Splashy Fen has evolved to become one of South Africa’s premier music festivals. Thousands of people make the annual pilgrimage to Underberg in KwaZulu-Natal for what is regarded by many as the continent's answer to Glastonbury. Today, attendance has grown to the point where Splashy Fen now attracts crowds upwards of 10,000 people from all corners of the country and abroad.
Peter Ferraz and his wife Almary created the festival on their trout farm (named Splashy Fen) near Underberg in the Southern Drakensberg. With a natural amphitheater providing excellent acoustics, breathtaking mountain vistas, a winding river, and lots of fields for camping, the farm is perfect for a music festival.
Splashy, as the festival is affectionately known to its fans, takes place over the Easter weekend when a packed four-day program features non-stop live music from over 100 international acts on four unique stage areas and various smaller arenas. Over the years, this much-loved festival has adapted to trends while managing to retain its unique character and appeal, allowing it to become the longest-running music festival in the country.
Beyond the live music performances there is a wide selection of outdoor leisure activities for the whole family, as well as a variety of places to craft food and craft drinks, including a dedicated coffee village. For those looking to stay active, there are morning yoga sessions and trail runs. There are colorful craft stalls, a children’s entertainment area and crèche. The African Rainbow Village offers patrons a fantastic opportunity to browse through crafts, engage in fascinating workshops, or indulge in a delightful therapy treatment. Festival-goers can also enjoy activities in the area such as horseback riding, golf, hot air ballooning, helicopter flights, paragliding, hiking, and quad bike tours.
A Festival For the Whole Family
With its family-friendly ethos, the festival appeals to people of all ages. At no charge, children aged four to 12 will be looked after and entertained at Auntie Mim’s Children’s Centre. With a variety of art and craft activities, movies, storytelling, singalongs, and puppet shows, Auntie Mim and John have been to practically every Splashy Fen, and their puppets have become favorite friends to attending children. Aside from knowing that your children will be in good hands during the day, the centre also offers a childcare service from 7 pm to 10 pm, leaving parents free to watch the evening acts.
Promoting South African Artists
The festival has become an integral part of the South African music scene. From the early days of folk and folk-rock, the festival has expanded to include a wide range of popular and contemporary music including rock, blues, indie, house, and techno. Bands and musicians come from all over the country to perform at the festival. Traditional African music plays a big role, including mbaqanga, the up-tempo jive music of the townships and the wonderfully distinctive Zulu style of isicanthamiya, the singing made famous by groups such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Widely recognized for promoting local music, Splashy has provided a platform for over 1,500 established and emerging artists and helped kickstart many successful music careers.
Looking After People and the Environment
With lessons learned over the festival's 20-plus year history, the event runs quite smoothly. In 2008, the access road was widened and improved to accommodate the increased number of festival-goers making the trek each year, reducing congestion significantly.
The environment is always a major consideration. The majority of the ground reserved for the event is normally used for livestock and agriculture so any damage is mitigated when plowed after the event. As a safety measure a “no glass” policy was also introduced. While glass may be more environmentally friendly than plastic, broken bottles are not only a danger to festival-goers but also a long-term hazard to the livestock.
As the festival has grown, so too have the donations made to charitable organizations. Each year, profits from the beer garden bar are donated to local community projects.
Safety is always a concern at any large gathering and the Splashy Fen organizers take this responsibility extremely seriously, working closely with the authorities to keep the festival as incident-free as possible. The local police provide support, including uniformed and undercover police and road checkpoints for cars entering the festival. In recent years, Splashy Fen has added mounted policemen, sniffer dogs, armed forces, security guards and crime watch efforts. In addition there is round-the-clock security both inside and around the perimeter of the festival as well as a 24-hour medical tent manned by professional medical personnel.
There has hardly been a single significant incident of aggression during Splashy’s entire history, which is remarkable given the numbers involved.