Making memories is harder than it seems and as a first year, many events are competing to get on your bucket list to help you make those memories. Choosing what goes on this list is often the problem and festivals are usually the obvious pick. But what is the perfect formula that will ensure that you have the best first year possible? At Perdeby, we think we’ve figured it out.

AfrikaBurn (25-30 April 2012)

Burning Man is one of the biggest events on the calendar in the United States. So big, in fact, that smaller, regional Burning Man festivals started cropping up all over the world. South Africa, never one to miss out on anything, introduced AfrikaBurn in 2007. It is difficult to accurately describe what a Burning Man festival is, as it changes every year to incorporate a number of different interests. Essentially, Burning Man is a week-long celebration of art, and “art” is defined quite loosely at Burning Man. Anything goes, from music to nudism: self-expression is largely emphasised. Sceptics have often labelled the festival “an orgy” and as “hippie and reckless”, but faithful patrons will tell you that it is an adventure, an education and a memorable experience. Held annually in the Tankwa Karoo, AfrikaBurn injects its own local flavour into the festival, making it a must for any culture fan.

National Arts Festival (28 June-8 July 2012)

The National Arts Festival is the most important annual celebration of the arts on the continent. For 38 years, the festival has drawn audiences from all over the world, promoting young artists on an international scale, with a strong devotion to social responsibility. In addition, it is held in Grahamstown in partnership with Rhodes University, which means copious amounts of alcohol. Rhodes University is notorious for partying the hardest and this aspect of their lifestyle is not shirked during the festival. If students from all over the country aren’t being drawn to the impressive art, theatre and film presentations, then they’re drawn to the after-parties that take place throughout the festival. The National Arts Festival is staged annually during the June/ July recess, and it can be a welcome break from eventless Pretoria midway through winter.

Oppikoppi (9-11 August 2012)

Musical Mecca. The Promised Land. Oppikoppi is a religion for most people – their entire year is planned around it. Tickets are bought before the line-up is even announced. As old as democracy itself, Oppikoppi is the highlight of every music lover’s year and one of the most beloved festivals hosted in this country. It is also your best chance to see an international act for a steal of a price. There really won’t be that many opportunities in your life for you to go three days without showering and get near-fatally drunk without reproach. Anecdotally described as “life-changing” and “addictive”, it’s hard not to want to be part of the population that, year after year, flocks in their thousands to the dusty farm in Northam. Attending and surviving Oppikoppi is an achievement that you will wear on your wrist for as long you can.

Aardklop (4-8 October 2012)

After Oppikoppi most people might be too burnt out and perhaps even too broke to go to another festival. But for those who plan ahead, with relentless zeal and unconquerable livers, there’s Aardklop in Potchefstroom. In its fifteenth year, Aardklop has often been described as the Afrikaans community’s answer to the National Arts Festival. However, though its content is predominantly Afrikaans, Aardklop welcomes contributions in any of the other South African languages. Aardklop is a mix of music, visual art and theatre from up and coming local artists. In recent years, Aardklop has begun involving contemporary musical acts such as Die Heuwels Fantasties and Ashtray Electric to draw in a younger crowd. Most of the content showcased at Aardklop typically carries a social message – this might be the most intellectually stimulating party you ever attend.

Rocking the Daisies – Cape Town Music and Lifestyle Festival (7-9 October 2012)

A rock festival with a conscience: that is basically Rocking the Daisies’ biggest selling point. That, and the fact that it’s held on a wine farm in Cape Town with an impressively large line-up. Perhaps there’s more than one selling point, which is why Rocking the Daisies should be on your list of things to do this year. Winner of an SA Climate Change Leadership Award for two years in a row, Rocking the Daisies is increasingly becoming the festival to watch in South Africa. Featuring a long list of local artists, both the established and the relatively unknown, the festival is every tree-hugging, music-loving Cape Town-worshipper’s dream. Plus, you have no excuse to stay sober surrounded by all that wine. A definite must.

Image: Yannick Pousson

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