AfrikaBurn – South Africa’s version of the famous US festival, Burning Man – takes place each year in the vast and desolate Tankwa Karoo. This annual gathering of creative expression culminates in the erection of a temporary city of art, where theme camps, cool costumes and inspired, impromptu and inconceivable performances come alive… particularly at nightfall, when all kinds of juices are flowing…
If you’ve never visited, and are toying with the idea, here are seven reasons you should ’Burn in 2017. (And if you’re a veteran, you’ll nod in agreement with our descriptions below. Please note: General tickets are sold out, but resell tickets are still available at Quicket.
1. The Outfits
Each year, AfrikaBurn centres around a theme and, this year, it’s Play. Which is rather lovely because, as Albert Einstein once noted: “Play is the highest form of research.”
So, get your playfulness on, throw inhibition to the wind and let your imagination venture into unchartered territory as you conjure a costume that’s mind-bogglingly fantastic and outrageous. Then, once you’ve arrived at Tankwa Town, make sure to explore the different “theme camps” dotted around, offering everything from foot massages and margaritas to dance classes and afternoon braais.
2. The Art
Reflection by Daniel Popper, photo by Simon O’Callaghan, used with permission of the artist
If ever there was a space to let your creative juices flow and banish your art inhibitions forever, then AfrikaBurn is it. Every year, imaginations wander where they will, as the barren Karoo turns into a canvas for the wildest, most vivid art schemes around.
You don’t need to be an artist by trade – here it’s about self-expression. And, at the end of it all, if you don’t want your art to burn, that’s cool, too! Let it live on beyond the festival, and take it home as a keepsake.
3. … and The Art Burns
Some of the art is not take-homeable… Which means, it’s got to burn. Come nightfall, crowds gather to watch gigantic sculptures being set alight to burn against the night sky in the midst of this vast, uninhabited place. There’s something terrifyingly spectacular and wild about these bonfire rituals.
4. Oh, The Places you’ll Go…
And by this we mean literally, figuratively, physically, metaphysically, spiritually, emotionally, and so on… The festival’s physical location – some four hours from Cape Town, in the stark and unyielding Tankwa Karoo – is like something straight out of a dream world, and the perfect canvas for you to leave all your stresses behind, and enter another world: Tankwa Town in Stonehenge Private Reserve.
For 11 months each year, Stonehenge is little more than a dusty wasteland, but come April, it transforms itself into a magical, mystical City of Art – one of the reasons we rate it as visit a must-visit annual festival.
5. … and The connections you’ll make
One of the most grounding things about AfrikaBurn is the opportunity it provides to meet (and form deep connections with) people from all walks, ages, faiths, genders, races, and so on. There’s no place for staunchly held views or discrimination of any form – only curiosity, goodwill and empathy – as you strike up conversations (and unite) with people from every corner of the earth in this unique space.
6. The Mutant Vehicles
“Death Ride” by Jonx Pillemer, used with permission of the artist
We’re not talking about the X-Men or Ninja Turtle varieties. At AfrikaBurn, it refers to mobile art that you can, well, drive. Revellers can (and do) motorise everything from cars and bikes to couches and bars, while spectators get to enjoy a pretty rad show.
Nautilus art car by Tristan Savatier, from the Burning Man Festival (the inspiration for Afrikaburn), used with permission of the artist
Please note: To drive your motorised mutant, you need to be approved by the Department of Mutant Vehicles (DMV) – so if the “car” doesn’t resemble a car… those wheels will be grounded pronto..
7. The Flow
If ever there was a festival that epitomised letting go, and going with the flow, it’s this one. Leave the planning and overthinking to the city folk, and let new, unusual experiences unfold. Headline acts and paid artists have been replaced by a host of impromptu performances, with festival attendees getting the chance to perform almost anything, whenever it feels right.
So, get ready to break into song, unexpectedly recite poetry over breakfast, or even grab a partner and cha-cha across a sunset plain…
See you in the desert.
Date 24 – 30 April 2017
Where to find it AfrikaBurn, Stonehenge Private Reserve, Tankwa Karoo
Uncover the hidden gems of the Cape with the help of our weekly newsletter.