Splashy Fen is South Africa’s longest running and oldest music festival. But it is so much more than just a music festival, it is a festival that celebrates life, art, music, people, love laughter, fun and enjoyment, all within a world heritage site (The Drakensberg).
The festival started in 1990 after a night of red wine around a fire when Peter Ferraz and Bart Fokkens decided that the farm Splashy Fen was a perfect location for a music gathering. Expecting only a hundred or so fans, the inaugural festival attracted some 400 musicians and festival goers, and by 1995, had become the biggest music festival in the country.
Over the years, Splashy has welcomed in excess of 100 000 people through its gates and provided a platform which has seen music careers blossom across our promised land. It is so much more than a festival…..and is rightly dubbed “SA’s Friendliest Music Festival”
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.