Why you can’t miss Bushfire festival this year

Posted on 9 February 2015

It’s not just any country. Swaziland’s rolling green hills, friendly faces and super laid-back vibe are just some of the things that make this music festival (29 to 31 May 2015) so special. Here’s what Bushfire’s all about.

Also read: five reasons to visit Bushfire festival


Dan Patlansky rips up the stage in a stellar performance on the Bushfire Main Stage

Dan Patlansky gives a stellar performance on the Bushfire Main Stage.


1. Listen to live music from musos local and abroad

Last year Imperial Tiger Orchestra, hailing from Switzerland, got the lazy Sunday afternoon crowd up and dancing with their upbeat, jazzy sounds, and some serious shoulder-bopping.


Dancers in the Imperial Tiger Orchestra rile up the audience with modern popular Ethiopian melodies.

Dancers in the Imperial Tiger Orchestra rile up the audience with modern popular Ethiopian melodies.

Bushfire Festival, Swaziland, Lauren Edwards, drumkit

Drumkit at sunset. Photo by Lauren Edwards.

Also read: All the king’s men… and women: a surprising sojourn in Swaziland


2. Get busy – there is so much to do!

Four stages; silent shows; spiritual lessons in the igloo; the Handcraft Market; the Global Food Village; a drawing wall; and, of course, dancing! Young, old, conservative and extrovert people mill about in the Swazi sunshine. We asked a dude whether the fragrant entjie he gripped between work-worn fingers was safe, to which he replied, “Jaaaaa, naah everything is fiine, jaaah man, it’s Bushfaaya”. So there’s that…


Artwork in The Barn where a silent show by Tonik takes place.

Artwork in The Barn, where a silent show by Tonik takes place.


The writings on the wall

The writing’s on the wall… scribbles include doodles, love notes, and pleas for Boko Haram to ‘return our girls.’


3. Send your kids to the playground area

Packed with exciting activities like fairground rides, farm animals and a variety of games, the Montessori inspired Family Program features interactive activities including art, theatre, storytelling, poetry and music. There is also a designated ‘family camping’ area. We met a couple traveling from Jozi with two little ones and after a long chat at the border, we discovered that this was their second Bushfire – with the kids!


One of the many fun activities to keep you entertained at Bushfire festival.

One of the many fun activities to keep you entertained at Bushfire festival.


4. Meet new people, from all over Africa…

And further abroad. The Bushfire folk are just so darn nice. We stood in a 3 hour queue at the border, all made bearable as we shared excited chatter, travel tales, and even turns holding the queue for each other. The Ngwenya/Oshoek border, connecting the N17 from Ermelo to the MR3 through Mbabane, was a traffic-jam on Friday from 16:00. Best to get there earlier or use the Sandlane/Nerston border further South, although be aware it closes early, at 18:00. The Sandlane/Nerston border route follows a lovely, scenic sand-road which takes a little longer to drive, but the border was a breeze. Remember passports (no visas required for SA citizens) and vehicle registration papers. Proceedings, as is usual at borders, can be a little pedantic, but there’s little evidence of corruption.


Queue at the Ngwenya/Oshoek border, 16:30.

Queue at the Ngwenya/Oshoek border, 16:30.


5. Explore a new country

Swaziland is not really that far, let’s be honest … you can be outta the big smoke and in a different country within 5 hours! It’s a casual and scenic drive that just gets better and better as you near the border… and we all know how lekka it feels thumping another stamp in that passport.


The Ekhaya stage, Bushfire festival.

The Ekhaya stage, Bushfire festival.


How to do Bushfire best



Camping and other accommodation

Unfortunately, camping and accommodation costs are not included in the ticket price so you’ll have to arrange your stay separately.

There are six main options:

  1. Camp with you own equipment at the official festival campsite
  2. Grab an already erected tent at the tent village
  3. Join the Forest Fire Tented Camp
  4. Glamp in luxury with Harambee Hotel
  5. Stay at a local B&B/backpackers
  6. Get an all-in Bushfire travel package

1. The All Out Africa official campsite has camping (bring all your own equipment) for R135 per person per night. It’s an extra R70 per night to camp with your vehicle.

2. The Tent Village has ready-erected tents with two mattresses and two pillows, for R480 for two people per night – for a minimum of two nights.

3. The Forest Fire Tented Camp is in an exclusive forest location, with more space and privacy. A tent, two mattresses and two pillows costs R530 per person per night (also a two night minimum).

4. The Harambee Hotel offers luxury tents on a farm within walking distance of the festival grounds. Each tent has a double bed and charging point, and the communal ablutions have flush loos and hot showers. Two nights cost R3200 for two people sharing, or three nights for R3900. Rates include breakfast, and you can get an extra mattress for toddlers for R250.

5. Local B&B/backpackers also offer accommodation to festival goers. Download last year’s list of options here.

6. Finally, all-in Bushfire travel packages from Johannesburg, Durban, Nelspruit, Maputo and Tofo are also available.

Full accommodation booking information here


Sunny Sunday afternoon at the Bushfire Main Stage.

Sunny Sunday afternoon at the Bushfire Main Stage.



Early bird tickets are currently available as follows:

A full early bird festival pass is R550, ideal because you won’t want to miss out on anything the 3-day experience has to offer.

Early bird VIP tickets go for R850 and include access to seating, heating and a private restaurant. The seating seems to be the only real perk; otherwise it’s not really necessary to separate from the humble crowd in such a big, open area venue. The crowd is big enough to have a jol, while small enough to keep track of your friends and kids.

Kids under 5 get in for free, and kids under 12 pay just R100 (early bird rate).

Day passes are also available.

Please note that the early bird ticket prices are for a limited time only and are subject to change at the organisers’ discretion.

Buy Bushfire tickets here


What to eat

You can bring a braai and there are braai facilities, but although this seems like a great idea, it’s more admin than it’s worth – and there’s so much good food you’d be missing out on! This year we’ll be leaving ours behind and giving in to that irresistible smokey smell wafting from the braais set up by the locals at the entrance to the camping grounds. There is also so much to try from the stalls in the Global Food Village. Fresh coconut juice sipped from the fruit, after which the guys will hack it open for you to enjoy the flesh. How’s that for a healthy brekkie, Mr. Noakes? Not to mention other tasty treats like a hearty, traditional Swazi dish of shisa nyama and pap, fresh from the grid. Grab a (gigantic) Bavarian sausage, secure a space on the grass at the main stage, and loll about on your blanket or sarong, listening to unusual, beautiful music in the sunshine. Aaaah…


Fresh coconut

Fresh coconut, hacked open for you to munch once you’re done sipping on the refreshing, nutritional coconut juice.


What to take

No-one’s gonna call you a sissy if you pack a blow-up mattress, pillow and extra blanket for the chilly evenings. Day time can feel like the peak of summer, but warm clothes are a must to make the most of the evening fun. Hot showers and reasonably clean ablutions are available, but the early bird skips the queue, in this case! If you’re ok with a quick top-n-tail, don’t forget the wet wipes and a mini gas boiler. The latter is great for brewing up a sachet cappuccino in the mornings, as you watch the sun rise over the valley from your campsite. Did I mention the stars? Your good camera and that darn tripod are essential for this festival, don’t forget ‘em!


Things to buy

One Swazi lilangeni is the equivalent of R1, although the value feels like so much more as prices are super reasonable. A bottle of Sibebe beer, a smooth pilsner similar to the green bottle beers in South Africa, costs roughly R20. Meals are around R40, and you can expect good prices for the intricate handiwork on offer in the craft market. Not too shabby for a totally unconventional experience in a different country – and a beautiful one at that.



29 to 31 May 2015


More information

Website: www.bush-fire.com
Tel: +268 2528 2040


The line-up at the igloo. We stumbled on an impromptu Drum & Bass party on our first night.

The line-up at the igloo. We stumbled on an impromptu Drum & Bass party on our first night.


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