Cape Town is a music lover’s paradise, and there’s always something happening, from festivals to concerts to parades. The city’s music scene really shines at its festivals, so here is a list of the top annual music festivals, in order of what time of year they happen. To find out more about what’s happening in Cape Town when you visit, take a look at our full list of events in Cape Town.
Up the creek
Picture this: you’re lazing on an inflatable pool lounger in the sunshine, sipping an ice-cold cocktail, while on the river’s edge a band plays soulful rock ‘n roll. That’s the concept behind Up the Creek, held in January every year. This is a festival for folks who like to get wet. There are a number of stages—the River Stage, Main Stage, and Late Night Stage—where you can enjoy the best rock music Cape Town has to offer, along with some pop, indie folk, and a couple of DJs. It’s also limited to under 3,000 tickets, so you’re guaranteed a quieter, more intimate experience than most outdoor festivals.
Cape Town International Jazz Festival
The Cape Town Jazz Fest rivals some of the world’s biggest jazz festivals. Taking place in March each year, the festival brings some of the greatest local and international jazz acts to venues scattered throughout the city. It is also the largest music event in sub-Saharan Africa. Our only complaint: how to choose which of the myriad shows to attend over the two days.
Cape Town Folk ‘n Acoustic Festival
The Folk ‘n Acoustic Festival is smaller than many of the others on this list, and much more local. It takes place any time between February and August, so check the websites for this year’s dates. The festival features concert-style performances in an intimate, seated venue. The country’s best folk and acoustic acts take the stage in the style of a ‘70s folk concert, where all artists performed solo or duo sets completely acoustically.
Earthdance is a trance festival that takes place in September annually. Cape Town is world-renowned for its trance parties and festivals. Earthdance is all about peace and love, and it happens on a holiday resort about two hours out of town, set against dramatic mountains. It’s one of 300 Earthdance events in over 60 countries, all of which unite in a prayer for peace at a set time.
In October every year, with the wildflowers in bloom. The Cloof Wine Estate hosts Rocking the Daisies. It’s South Africa’s biggest outdoor gathering, with hundreds of acts over a number of stages. There is rock, hip-hop, electro, indie, pop, and everything in-between. This is one of the trendiest events in Cape Town, and features excellent headlines, both local and international.
Vortex is a seasoned veteran of the trance scene, with two decades of events under its belt. It takes place in December every year, with another event over Easter weekend. The outdoor festival takes place in a valley tucked between mountains and river, and the greatest psy-trance and electronic acts perform every year.
Kirstenbosch Summer Concert Series
Every year, the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens host a series of summer concerts. Guests relax on the sunny lawns on blankets, with picnic baskets and coolers full of wine and beer, to enjoy the summery sounds of South Africa’s most well-known musical acts. The concerts are sunny and vibey, and not to be missed if you’re in town between November and January.