Nyege Nyege, Felabration voted world’s best new festivals

Uganda’s Nyege Nyege Festival has been named among the top 30 new festivals in the world for 2017 by Fest300, a San Francisco-based company that publishes an annual list of the 300 top festivals.

A performance at Nyege Nyege Festival. Photo: Gilbert Frank Daniels
A performance at Nyege Nyege Festival. Photo: Gilbert Frank Daniels

In November last year, the Fest300 team released a list of 200 new festivals from which an international community of festivalgoers voted. Felabration, the Nigerian festival that celebrates Fela Kuti's legacy and his trailblazing Afrobeat, is the only other African festival on the list. It emerged top, with more than 2 000 votes.

The Best Fest Quest, as the competition is called, had nominated seven African festivals – Bushfire (Swaziland), Felabration (Nigeria), Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) (Zimbabwe), Mozamboogy (Mozambique), Nyege Nyege Festival (Uganda), Origin (South Africa) and Vic Falls Carnival (Zimbabwe).

“Great to see Nyege Nyege Festival selected as one of the top 30 new festivals in the world for 2017 by Fest300 and East Africa finally represented amongst the top 300 festivals on the planet. See you all on 1-3 September 2017,” Nyege Nyege organisers said.

Nyege Nyege was founded in 2015 by Arlen Disizilan and Derek Debru. Having worked with talented underground musicians and having played alternative African music at their parties, they decided to start a full-size festival that would showcase the exciting transformations in contemporary African music. Last year’s line-up brought to Jinja, Uganda, sounds such as kuduros, kwaito, Tuareg rock, cosmic synths from Niger, Arab tech, Morrocan bass and soukous.

Hardly a new festival, Felabration was started by Kuti’s eldest child Yeni in 1998. It is a week-long musical event attracting thousands of visitors from around the world annually to the New Africa Shrine, an open air entertainment centre in Ikeja, Lagos State.

Global festival trends, Fest300 said, were tending towards unique, conscious gatherings with an emphasis on personal growth and community as well as exotic, cutting-edge venues.

“The events voted for are driven by entertainment but equally focused on spreading ideas, encouraging environmental action and building meaningful lives,” it said.

Here are some sights from Nyege Nyege 2016.


Fest300's list of the world's top 30 festivals:

CHI WOW WAH TOWN – Australia, February 24-26, 2017

Earth Frequency Festival – Australia, February 17-20, 2017

Yemaya Festival – Australia, April 21-24, 2017

Meadows in the Mountains – Bulgaria, June 9-June 12, 2017

Festival Western de St-Tite – Canada, September 8 – 17, 2017

Fozzyfest – Canada, September 14-17, 2017

Love International – Croatia, June 28-July 5, 2017

Let it Roll – Czech Republic, August 3-5, 2017

Pete the Monkey Festival – France, TBD

Balaton Sound – Hungary, July 5-July 9, 2017

Djakarta Warehouse Project – Indonesia, TBD

Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival – Indonesia, March 3-5, 2017

Paratissima – Italy, Macedonia, TBD

Genius Loci Fest – Mexico, June 22-26, 2017

Felabration – Nigeria, TBD

Woodstock Festival Poland – Poland, August 3-5, 2017

AgitÁgueda Art Festival – Portugal, July 1-23, 2017

Electric Castle – Romania, July 12-17, 2017

Alfa Future People – Russia, July 7-9, 2017

Sweden Rock Festival – Sweden, June 7-10, 2017

Nyege Nyege Festival – Uganda, September 1-3, 2017

Eastern Electrics – United Kingdom, August 5, 2017

Enchanted Forest Gathering – California, US, June 9-11, 2017

Riot Fest – Colorado, Illinois, Chicago and Denver (Denver – September 15-17, 2017)

Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival – Florida, US, March 2-5, 2017

Dancefestopia – Missouri, US, Sept 7-10, 2017

Punk Rock Bowling and Music Festival – Nevada, US, May 27-29, 2017

Gratitude Migration – New Jersey, US, July 14-16, 2017

Euporia – Texas, US, April 6-9, 2017

Quest Festival Vietnam – Vietnam


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