African Music Festivals

These music festivals are worth the trip

••• Cape Town Jazz Festival.

Some of the best international music festivals are held annually in African countries. From Mali to Morocco, Zanzibar to Senegal, planning a visit to experience one of these festivals is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the local culture.

  • 01 of 07

    Sauti za Busara "Sounds of Wisdom" is one of East Africa's best cultural events. This four-day festival showcases regional music, theatre, and dance. It brings together people of all ages and backgrounds in celebration of the wealth and variety of Swahili culture. Performance spaces include old forts, amphitheaters and other historic buildings that make Stonetown a unique destination. The music is paired with delicious meals of skewered meats, lovely sunsets and lots of dancing. 

  • 02 of 07

    The Festival sur le Niger is a cultural festival that celebrates the music, dance and tradition of the Segou region in Mali. The festival takes place over four days on the banks of the mighty Niger River in the ancient capital of the Bambara kingdom. Not only is the music fantastic, but the culture and tradition of this area provide a fascinating backdrop to the festival. There are several tours that include the festival along with other country highlights. Musicians that have played in past festivals include Fema Kuti, King Mensah, Amadou & Mariam, Oumou Sangare and many more.

     

  • 03 of 07

    Southern Africa's biggest jazz festival is held annually in Cape Town, South Africa. Jazz legends from all over the world perform for just two days at the convention center. More than 30,000 people have attended past festivals, so advance ticket purchase is absolutely necessary. Over 40 artists play on five stages during the two-day event, and they include many jazz greats as well as local South African talent. 

  • 04 of 07

    The Saint Louis Jazz Festival is held annually in the colorful town of Saint Louis in Senegal. Jazz legends from all over the world come together to play in various venues throughout the town. Past musicians who took part in the festival include Herbie Hancock, Randy Weston, and Joe Zainul. The festival is also an excellent platform for new jazz groups to perform in front of an international audience. At least 30 new groups perform each year.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    This wonderful spiritual festival, held annually in Fes, allows you to bump into whirling dervishes from Iran as well as mystics, chanters, and dancers from all around the world. A festival celebrating the local culture of Fes is held concurrently. Both festivals allow visitors a wonderful insight into traditional life in the old walled city. Sip some mint tea, enjoy sufi chanting and of course all that delicious Moroccan food.

     

  • 06 of 07

    A music festival based on the traditions of Gnaoua music has grown to include musicians from all over the world. This successful annual festival has been around for a decade and venues are dotted all around the picturesque town of Essaouira. Here's a tour if you would like to join in the fun as a group. Gnaoua music is a combination of acrobatic dancing as well as music. Its origins lie in a unique mixture of Berber, African and Arabic songs, religious rites and dance.

     

  • 07 of 07

    First held in 2004, the Lake of Stars music festival hosts artists from all over Malawi as well as abroad. The venue is the beautiful Lake Malawi shore. It's basically a four-day beach party basking in the relaxed, safe and extremely friendly Malawian culture. The music is varied, from afro-pop, reggae, folk and DJ's playing everything in between. The festival helps raise money for local charities and also promotes tourism to Malawi.