Splashy Fen is back! Easter weekend 2016 is set to host the revival of the infamous Splashy Fen Festival, SA’s longest running music festival.
The festival itself has been running for 26 years, a unique statistics not only for a music brand in South Africa, but worldwide. Now under new management (Impi Concept Events), the festival is set for a partial rebirth. One phrase will drive the decision making of the new management, and that is “creating defining moments”, of which three key factors have been identified by the event as the driving forces behind their decision making, namely:
Ensuring a diverse, quality and enjoyable music lineup
Value For Money:
Ensuring ticket holders leave Splashy Fen with a feeling of value for money
Ensuring a positive economic influence on the local community
Several new aspects will be introduced to the Splashy 2016 setup, including the following:
Re-worked venue layout
Increase safety and security measures
Better ticketing process
Improved access experience
Improved camping experience and facilities
Many more to be detailed in the weeks and months leading up to the event…
Impi Concept Events have brought a new energy and drive to the Splashy Fen family. They entered the event industry in 2006, largely focused on adventure sports such as mountain biking and trail running. In 2010 they staged their first music concert, featuring Johnny Clegg, Wonderboom and Goodluck at the Woodburn Rugby Stadium in Pietermaritzburg. Since their entry into the live music industry, they have taken over the operation of the now hugely popular & successful Old Mutual Music at the Lake Series at the Durban Botanic Gardens, as well as having worked around the world including staging UB40 on a floating stage in the Seychelles.
As a company, they see Splashy Fen as a key development opportunity and have promised to bring new energy, ideas and value to the brand and festival experience as a whole.
From its early beginnings back in 1990, Splashy Fen has evolved into one of South Africa’s premier music festivals which nowadays sees thousands of people making the annual pilgrimage to Underberg in KwaZulu-Natal for what is regarded by many as the ‘ultimate outdoor experience’. With its unique vibe and character, this much-loved event has endured for over a quarter-century to become the longest-running annual music festival in the country. It was started back in 1990 by Bart Fokkens, and the now late Peter Ferraz, a festival and idea that was born around the dinner table with a bottle of wine.
Splashy Fen, named after the farm upon which the festival takes place, is a perfect setting for a music festival. Natural amphitheaters, great acoustics, breathe taking mountain vistas, winding rivers and large level fields for camping.
Originally held over 2 days, its original aim was “to have a really good time with a few musicians playing around campfires, joined by some truly passionate music-lovers.” No one was more surprised than Peter & Bart when instead of the anticipated attendance of 200, they attracted 1 200 enthusiasts, who camped under the stars and listened to artists like Tony Cox, the Silver Creek Mountain Band, Plagal Cadence and Syd Kitchen.
Infrastructure was rudimentary – a make-shift stage, a tractor-powered generator (there was no Eskom then) and a few portable toilets. According to Peter, power was provided by an ancient little tractor driving an erratic farm generator. “Every so often the music would stop for 20 minutes while the tractor was refueled, but nobody complained. The foundations for today’s mellow Splashy vibe were laid right then and there.”
A late snowfall on the final day of the festival also failed to act as a deterrent, but later saw Splashy’s positioning on the calendar change to early May and more recently to the Easter long-weekend.
Despite all this, the pioneering Splashy Fen Music Festival was so successful that another was organized the following year, and the year after that – and so began the saga of an event that has become an integral part of the South African music scene.