I am not a festival goer. Not by choice, but rather by circumstance. Due to funding (lack thereof), timing, deficit of persons to accompany me etc etc I have been a festival flake. Not anymore! And what better way to consummate the now budding relationship than with the annual Smoking Dragon Festival held on the 29th, 30th and 31st of December at the Amphitheatre Backpackers in the Drakensberg.
Not as well known as the likes of Rocking the Daisies and Splashy Fen, this almost unchartered festival is a great place to ease you into the vibe and get you hooked. This year, I went with the awesome Cat from CouchSurfing Durban. With a great lineup – Jeremy Loops, a main feature – I was introduced to some awesome acts along the lines of Lauren Gear, Desmond and the Tutus, Shadow Club and Napalma. But it didn’t just stop there. We hiked, had pizza in the rain, changed tyres, hunted for a pharmacy open on Old Years Eve, did some sightseeing in the Berg, met some crazy critters and had an absolute jol.
Why Smoking Dragon?
- Not so many people – although I don’t know how long this will last! Queues for food, drink and the toilets aren’t long. You don’t feel like people are encroaching on your space and there is ample space in the tent to actually sit comfortably and listen to bands should you wish.
- The backdrop – the beautiful mountains during the day and the lack of light population at night make for a surreal setting.
- The lineup – some unknown and known bands with whom you get to mix and mingle with after at the bar.
- There are other things to do in the area should you feel like a break from the music.
- Everything is close together. You’re not trekking miles to the main stage or to hunt for food.
- Book early. Buy the early bird ticket and save some moola.
- If you can, get in at the backpackers. Sleeping on a proper bed for the night with shelter from the rain will be much appreciated.
- Bring bottled water.
- Bring your hiking boots – a walk at Royal Natal is a great escape and only a few kilometres away.
Here’s a little recap of Day 1.