Splashy Fen farm would normally have been buzzing with some 10 000 festival-goers this past Easter weekend but for 2 years now, the festival has stood still, void of the sound of musical notes, cheering fans and campfire stories.
Having last been staged in April 2019, the festival was forced to cancel in 2020, only 2 weeks before it was supposed to be staged, due to the onset of lockdown measures attributed to the spread of COVID-19 in South Africa.
But this past weekend, 250 lucky fans got the opportunity to experience Splashy as it has never been experienced before, with a camping musical weekend being hosted on the iconic farm in a small, compliant and intimate format.
Located around the Mzimude River, 70 campsites were constructed and families from across SA embarked on their traditional Easter pilgrimage to the Underberg music venue. The weekend took on a very different look or course, with only one stage of music available, but an array of other activities including hikes, birding tours, and behind the scenes tours of the festival site itself.
“This was something special. As a group of fans, we have been missing Splashy and all it stands for so much over the past 2 years, and to be back here again this past weekend has awoken my whole family’s soul,” said Stuart Quiperel, one of the lucky attendees from this past weekend. “It was intimate and special on every level, and showed how people can congregate safely and responsibly while listening to live music.”
The live events and music industry has been the worst hit by the COVID pandemic, as they rely on the ability to gather people, but this Splashy weekend provided a good case study for events being allowed to open up based on a venue-specific capacity, as opposed to just a set number.
“Splashy Fen farm is 110Ha in size and open air, so we have ample space to be able to host people safely,” explained Festival Director, Stu Berry. “If we were to host 2 000 people, each person would have around 200sqm to themselves, combined with proper control measures, ensuring a safe space for everyone.”
“What was abundantly clear though after this past weekend of hosting some of our fans on site, is that the demand for Splashy Fen is going to be sky high when we can return at a higher capacity. We managed to host 250 this past weekend, but had a waiting list of over 500 people, for a purely camping experience. I really do feel that although the pandemic has been devastating to our industry, we can look forward to a huge demand once the return to operation takes place. The time alone has certainly amplified what Splashy as a brand aims to provide its fans with – an opportunity to reflect on what is important in their lives and be able to live life to its full.”
The 2021 edition of the full Splashy Fen Music Festival was set to take place this past weekend as well, but the Splashy Fen team have placed a September date (23rd – 26th) in place for later in the year, in the hope that many of the regulations would have been relaxed by then.
Stay tuned to the Splashy Fen social media pages for updates throughout the coming months.