LAKE OF STARS

Dates: 28th - 30th September 2018
Location: Lake Malawi, Africa

David Livingstone, the great 19th Century explorer, first offered this place the name “Lake of Stars” after camping on Lake Malawi’s exquisite shores. The flat, mirror like surface reflects millions of twinkling lights from all the fishing boats on a clear evening; and that’s just one of the reasons this party claims the title of one of the world’s most beautiful festival settings. Malawi, in Southeast Africa, is a very small country with a vibrant population and a growing appreciation for music and the arts. The festival draws people from all over the world to both attend and perform, and is rapidly becoming one of the best renowned events in Africa.

It was all started in 2004, by Will Jameson, who was visiting Malawi from the UK on a university trip. On his return to England he started a club night named after one of the African country’s top beers; “Chibuku Shake Shake”. It was hugely popular and spurred him to start a festival that very same year. The inaugural event attracted just 700 people, but in 2016, numbers reached nearly 4,000. The three main goals were to give the region’s economy a boost (which grows every year), promote Malawi as a tourism destination and finally to encourage the arts, and offer Malawian performers an international platform from which to be heard. A percentage of the ticket sales are donated to carefully chosen programmes, whilst the sheer numbers of people brought into the area provide a much needed injection of cash to the local economy – last year it came to around $1.7m.

Aside from the music, which attracts both well known musicians and newcomers, there are TEDx style talks, poetry readings, light water sports, film screenings, theatre performances, acrobatics, workshops, plus plenty of time to splash around in the lovely waters of the lake and do lots and lots of dancing. One can go and spend time and play sports with children who live in various orphanages in the area, and which the festival support, or spend a few days exploring the rest of the lake.

Accommodation-wise, there are on-site campsites available though these do tend to get booked quite quickly. Of course, we can’t offer our fabulous canvas bedrooms for you all the way out in Africa (yet), but as always, we recommend you sort out your sleeping arrangements ahead of time. You can also book at some of the hotels nearby, or rent a private house, though this may mean a small drive between your accommodation and the party venue. Make sure you bring plenty of suncream and fancy dress – there’s a fantastic party vibe and you’ll be sure to spend long, hot days by the lake, boogying your flipflops off and meeting lots of great new people.

What makes this festival so particularly special is knowing what a difference it makes to the country – not just financially but also for putting Malawi on a global map. “It’s not just about throwing a big party. It’s also about building something that can inspire people.” Will Jameson

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