The Ultimate Guide to Zimbabwean Music Festivals: 6 Must-Attend Events You Can't Miss

Zimbabwean music festivals are an integral part of the country's art and culture scene. Nothing compares to a good festival: loud world-class music, food, countless smiling strangers, the sun shining down your back, and all-around good vibes.

1. Introduction

Festivals provide a platform for emerging and established local artists to showcase their talents, collaborate, and learn from each other. Festivals also offer a range of activities that attract both locals and tourists, stimulating economic growth and generating revenue for local businesses.

It has been five years since Zimbabwe's biggest Festival, the Harare International Festival of Arts was held in 2018. The local festival scene has not been the same ever since but it's safe to say a few others like the world-famous Vic Falls Carnival, INTWASA Arts Festival, Jacaranda Festival, Shoko Festival, Neverland and Castle Lager Braai Festival have stepped up to fill the shoes.

The Ultimate Guide to Zimbabwean Music Festivals

In this article, we highlight some of the most popular festivals in the country worth checking out!

2. Vic Falls Carnival

The Victoria Falls Carnival is one of Africa's largest three-day party, music and adventure festivals. Established in 2009 by Blessing Munyenyiwa and Sean Young, the event started off as the Falls Fest and was renamed Victoria Falls Carnival in 2011. This annual event is held in the town of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, on the banks of the Zambezi River and just a short distance from the iconic Victoria Falls. 

The Festival will make its debut across the bridge in Zambia this year in partnership with Timedia and Radisson Blu where events under the umbrella of Vic Falls Carnival: Destination Livingstone will be held at the Radisson Blu Hotel Mosi-Oa-Tunya, Livingstone Resort from Friday 28th April to Sunday 30th April 2023. 

Visitors can go bungee jumping, zip lining, and white water rafting, or take a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River. There are also opportunities to learn about Zimbabwean culture through traditional dance and music performances.

Of course, the highlight of the Victoria Falls Carnival is the music! The concerts feature a lineup of top African and international artists, with previous performers including the late Oliver Mtukudzi, Black Coffee, and Mi Casa. There's no better way to visit a stunning natural wonder than with great music, and great friends.

But the Victoria Falls Carnival isn't just a party - it's also an opportunity to support local communities and conservation efforts. A portion of the proceeds from the event goes towards supporting various initiatives, including wildlife conservation and community development projects. By attending the Victoria Falls Carnival, you'll not only have an amazing time, but you'll also be making a positive impact on the region.

Whether you're a thrill-seeker, a music lover, or just looking for a unique way to spend the long weekend, the Victoria Falls Carnival has something for everyone including hotel and accommodation packages for every budget. Don't miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime experience!

3. INTWASA Arts Festival

Established in 2005, the INTWASA Arts Festival koBulawayo started with literary arts, music, and theatre, but over time has grown to include a wider range of art disciplines, such as fashion, sculpture, spoken word, poetry, comedy, dance, and a DJ Battle. With 40 events held in 10 venues over five days, the festival has become a prominent cultural and artistic platform in Zimbabwe. The name "Intwasa" means "Spring" in Ndebele, symbolizing rebirth, change, and new beginnings. The festival embodies this philosophy, encouraging communities to reimagine the way they see and approach certain things.

The festival brings together various art disciplines under one umbrella, creating a celebration platform. Since its inception, the festival has managed to attract artists from all over Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, and America to showcase their talent in Bulawayo. The festival has been held annually since 2005, making it one of the longest-running cultural and artistic events in the country.

The Chibuku stage and the Spring Jazz Show are two of the most popular events at the festival. The Chibuku stage has seen over 1,000 people attending the opening ceremony for the past four years. Meanwhile, the Spring Jazz Show, which has always been headlined by a female jazz musician, has sold out every year. Famous musicians such as the late Chowoniso Maraire, Dudu Manhenga, Four Generations, Tariro Negitare, Selmor Mtukudzi, Willis Wataffi, Cool Crooners, and Alexio Kawara have performed at the festival.

Ultimately, the purpose of the INTWASA Arts Festival is to market Bulawayo as a preferred tourist destination for business and art. The week-long spring fiesta, held in September every year in different locations across the city, is an opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in Zimbabwe's rich cultural heritage and enjoy the diversity of artistic expression on display.

4. Jacaranda Music Festival

The Jacaranda Music Festival takes place in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital city, in October. During this time, the city is transformed into a sea of purple as the jacaranda trees come into full bloom. The festival itself is a celebration of the beauty of these magnificent trees and a tribute to the vibrant culture of Zimbabwe.

Visitors can expect to be entertained by a wide range of performances, including traditional African music and dance, modern jazz, and classical music. Previous performers include Yvonne Chaka Chaka, the late Oliver Mtukudzi, Mokoomba, Mbeu, Norman Masamba, Berita Khumalo, Masa Caroleen, and Gemma Griffiths. The festival also features a wide range of food stalls, offering visitors the chance to sample traditional Zimbabwean cuisine and other African delicacies.

One of the highlights of the Jacaranda Music Festival is its educational aspect which has become a very critical part of the annual event as it is designed to avail those involved in the creative economy to meet and also learn about how they can effectively participate in the global scene as business people in entertainment.

The Jacaranda Music Festival is an event not to be missed for anyone visiting Zimbabwe. Whether you are interested in music and dance, food and drink, or simply the beauty of nature, there is something for everyone at this colourful and vibrant festival.

5. Shoko Festival

Shoko Festival is an annual event held in Zimbabwe that brings together music, arts, and culture. The festival aims to promote social cohesion, freedom of expression, and creativity among Zimbabwean youths. The event usually takes place in September every year and attracts thousands of people from all over Zimbabwe and beyond.

Shoko Festival was first held in 2011 as a response to the need for a platform that would bring together young people in Zimbabwe to express themselves through music and arts. The festival was organized by Magamba Network, a youth-led organization that aims to promote social justice and freedom of expression in Zimbabwe. Since then, the festival has grown to become one of the most significant cultural events in Zimbabwe.

The Shoko Festival features a diverse range of music and art performances from both local and international artists. The music genres range from hip hop, reggae, soul, and jazz, among others. The festival also features a variety of art exhibitions, theatre performances, and workshops.

The festival also provides a platform for emerging artists and young people to showcase their talents and connect with industry professionals. There are also opportunities for attendees to participate in various creative workshops, such as beat-making, songwriting, and dance.

6. Neverland Zimbabwe

Neverland Zimbabwe stands tall as one of the most significant dance music festivals in the country, drawing in massive crowds year after year. Held every December at the Cleveland Dam, this two-day event boasts an array of talented musicians from different countries who gather to showcase their craft.

The festival's lineup is typically star-studded, featuring internationally acclaimed artists such as Locnville from South Africa, Mark Stent from South Africa, Gil K from the USA, Lady M from South Africa, Chris Taylor from Zimbabwe and South Africa, Nic Fourie from Zimbabwe, Tom Staar from the UK, and many other top South African and Zimbabwean acts.

Neverland Zimbabwe serves as a refreshing alternative, showcasing the thriving electronic music scene in Africa. The festival features some of the world's best DJs and musicians, the finest African artists, cutting-edge audio and visual equipment, multiple stages, live performers and dancers, music workshops, pop-up restaurants, artisan stalls, and much more.

Neverland Zimbabwe remains a must-attend event for music lovers, offering an unforgettable experience that celebrates diversity and showcases the best of African music and culture.

7. Castle Lager National Braai Festival

If you're a foodie or simply love a good time with friends then you will definitely enjoy Braai Fest - the biggest food festival in Zimbabwe organized by Delta Beverages, the country's largest company by market capitalization. The one-day-only event Castle Lager National Braai Festival is held annually in October.

Prepare to have your tastebuds tantalized as the delicious aroma of freshly roasted meat fills the air. Talented braai masters will showcase their culinary skills on the grill, offering a variety of delectable meats for festival-goers to indulge in. From juicy steaks to succulent sausages, there's something for every meat lover to savour.

Aside from the mouth-watering food, Braai Fest also boasts an impressive music lineup, featuring some of Zimbabwe's most notable artists. Get ready to dance and sing along to the infectious tunes of Winky D, Nutty O, Freeman, Enzo Ishall, Jah Prayzah, Killer T, and more. In addition, to live performances, the festival also features DJ sets from the likes of DJ Naida, Etherton B, Made Her Believe, DJ Andile Brown, and Abisha Palmer.

Braai Fest is the ultimate food and music festival in Zimbabwe, offering an unforgettable experience for all attendees. With a plethora of delicious food options, top-notch musical performances, and a festive atmosphere, it's the perfect place to spend time with friends and make new memories.

If you're looking for a fun-filled day of good food, great music, and even better company, mark your calendars for Braai Fest in October. With so much to see and do, you won't want to miss out on Zimbabwe's biggest food festival of the year. So grab your friends and get ready to indulge in a day of mouth-watering delights and fantastic entertainment.

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Mungwadzi Godwin

twitterinstagramI like sharing positive stories about Zimbabweans at home and abroad. I also write articles on Personal Finance, Fashion, Music, and Tech. Let's connect!

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