Hi, My name is Oppikoppi Poppie and I am addicted to Music Festivals. Local festivals, international festivals, 1 day festivals, 3 day festivals, big festivals, small festivals – ALL kinds of festivals. It’s an addiction that I’ll admit to but not one that I will ever give up. After 7 years of attending my beloved Oppikoppi (going for numero 8 this year!) I decided that waiting 12 months every year for my favourite festival was not OK and I needed to do something about it. It was at this moment that a friend casually mentioned the idea of Splashy Fen to me – when he described it as “the most beautiful festival in the world” and said I had to experience the green pastures of the Splashy Fen farm I thought to myself why not? So we packed our bags, loaded the car and we were off to experience South Africa’s “friendliest festival”.
According to UrbanDictionary.com (not to be confused with the reputable Oxford Dictionary but still relevant in this case) “Splashy” means “sexy and refreshing, appealing to the eyes, something that can wake you up like cold water to the face“. Add a Fen to this word and you get a South African Music Festival which is true to this very meaning.
Being South Africa’s oldest and longest running music festival, the organizers of Splashy Fen really know what they are doing! Splashy is one of the most well organised and engaging festivals I have ever attended with a very well thought-out venue and with just the right amount of activities for everyone to enjoy. Imagine a place which not only has one of the most beautiful views in South Africa but also offers amazing entertainment, a craft market, morning yoga sessions, drumming circles, trail runs, artisan food vendors, and even has a beautiful river to tube down, swim in or just laze around on the banks with friends. Sounds exactly like my kind of utopia! A little different to the no under 18’s rule at Oppikoppi, Splashy is a festival for everyone, young and old, which adds a completely different dimension to the festival. Seeing an 8-year-old dancing away to Mango Groove with his Mom and Dad brings upon me a sense of nostalgia making me want to invite my mom and dad next year – and why not? Families are well taken care of with a separate camping area and a Kids Zone, the rest of the general Splashy population takes up residence in the general camping area which is similar to Mordor, just greener, and for those who prefer a little bit more luxury in life there is the services of the Harambee Tented Village.
The highlight of my weekend most definitely goes to the 2 identical twin brothers from Melbourne who stole a piece of my heart. International act The Pierce Brothers surprised Fenners with not only 1 incredible performance but 2 mind-blowing performances! Lucky festival goers who happened to be down by the river on Saturday afternoon got to experience a surprise set on the Corona River Stage – I have never been happier to be in the right place, at the right time. A thrilled crowd embraced their folky musical magic, dancing away to the beat of their drums and the strumming of their guitars. On Sunday night they spoiled us with their presence once again, this time completely out doing themselves and making 7000 SUPER fans of every single person at Splashy Fen 2018. They have just the right combination of interesting instruments (think Didgeridoo), crazy amounts of energy and crowd interaction to make sure you never take your eyes off of them. Thank you Pierce Brothers – and please come back to South Africa again SOON!
Other artists worth mentioning who really made this one of the best festival weekends of my life are Mango Groove (They make me feel at home no matter where I am), Matthew Mole (and his Ukulele), Desmond & the Tutu’s (Shane disappearing into the audience mid-show), Bowling for Soup (who need’s a comedian when you have BFS at a festival), Prime Circle, Perez, Rubber Duc, MonArk, and Josh Wantie. There were so many artists as well as a wide variety of alternative entertainment which added to the festive vibe that is Splashy.
My second favourite thing about Splashy (after The Pierce Brothers of course) was the Corona River Stage. A small paradise in between the valleys of Underberg. This is the one thing I wish I could take with me to Oppi – a small island type area surrounded by a flowing river. The whole area was filled with festival goers lounging on the grassy area, tubing down the river, and soaking up the sun on the banks of the river all whilst listening to the beautiful music streaming out from the marquee surrounding the Corona stage. Such an amazing vibe!
7 000 happy Fenners enjoyed a weekend of great entertainment, amazing local and international music acts and some pretty good South African weather. With a few hours of rain on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, muddy boots were seen everywhere, but spirits were not dulled and the festivities ventured on.
So the question on everyone’s minds is which do I love more – Splashy Fen or Oppikoppi? You could ask me who I love more, my brother or my sister – and my answer would be I love them both equally for being who they are and for being different. Oppikoppi is like my dirty, adventurous, rocker brother and Splashy is my cleaner, greener, friendly and folky sister – I wonder where Rocking the Daisies would fit in but luckily I am 1 of 5 siblings so I have plenty to relate to. Oppi and Splashy, I love you both for being who you are and also for being different. Oppi and Splashy have a lot of good things in common too – good music, friendly people, delicious food vendors, thirst quenching drinks and a sense of outdoor adventure.
I still love you Oppikoppi, you lit the festival fire in my heart and a girl never forgets her first love, but now I also love your friendly cousin Splashy. Time to start prepping for Oppikoppi 2018 and I hope to see you next year Splashy!