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Islands on the River is spring’s ultimate boutique festival
4-day journey of music and connection at this festival
Last updated: 27 June 2023
Islands on the River is the place to connect with friends old and new, explore walking routes with mountain views, swim in the river, and most importantly, dance to some of the best international and local DJs. This Wolfkop Weekender-run event is happening Thursday 26 to Sunday 29 October 2023. We’ve unpacked everything you need to know (from mixes to get you in the mood to top festival tips).
Wolfkop Weekender is known for its boutique festivals with stunning views, set on the Olifants River. Image: Wolfkop Weekender
TRY A SMALL BOUTIQUE FESTIVAL
Islands on the River started in 2020 (during the pandemic) and has grown to become one of Wolfkop Weekender’s most popular events.
It got its name from the clever way that Wolfkop Weekender threw a pandemic-safe party in 2020. Instead of one massive festival, Islands on the River consisted of 10 mini-festivals of 50 people (since this was the limit on social gatherings) along the Olifants River. Although it may be one festival now, the numbers are still small – ticket sales are capped at 1 500 people.
Float down the river with your friends and a drink in hand. Image: Wolfkop Weekender
CONNECT WITH PEOPLE YOUNG AND OLD
Because it’s 1 500 people spread across 800 metres of sprawling green lawns, riverside hangout spots and tracks to hike and explore, this boutique event skips out on the massive crowds that are a pain point for so many festival goers.
The crowd tends to be slightly older than your average music festival, too: From friends in their mid-twenties wanting to chill and make connections with new people, to older folks who just love to dance (even 75-year-olds who still like to groove). You won’t find barely-legals making a mess in the bathrooms.
All kinds of characters party at Islands on the River. Image: Wolfkop Weekender
DIG DEEP HOUSE, DISCO, TECHNO?
The international headliner is Italian star Massimiliano Pagliara, whose infectious sets are just one of the reasons why he’s had residencies at some of the world’s greatest clubs (like Berghain | Panorama Bar in Berlin and Robert Johnson in Offenbach).
Massimiliano plays an eclectic mix of house, techno, electro and disco. Plus, his mixes are played year after year at Wolfkop, so seeing him perform is a bucket list experience for regulars.
Another notable name is local DJ Jazzuelle, whose played shows like the Sonar Festival in Barcelona, Glastonbury in the UK and more.
The full lineup also includes names like Bruno Morphet, Athi Maq, Housewife, Avi Subban, and many more.
A MIX TO GET YOU IN THE MOOD
Get a taste of what to expect:
YOGA, BODYBOARD, SWIM, AND, AND…
Wolfkop Weekender events are so popular because there’s tons to do both on and off the dance floor. Besides great music, there’s also a river to play in, a walking route to enjoy (with views of the mountains), yoga sessions, bodyboard tours, braai pits and more.
Plus, there’s ton of food trucks and stalls to choose from. There’ll be vegan vendors with salads and smoothies, pizzas, burgers, a slushie counter, free produce from the farm (like orange juice and watermelon) and a Las Paletas ice cream stand and mobile rum bar.
Connect with friends old and new. Image: Wolfkop Weekender
FROM BYO TENT TO MOUNTAIN COTTAGES
There’s an accommodation option for you whether you’re a glamper or like roughing it out, like a vinyl tent with mattresses and a shade cloth, a luxurious bell tent, or a bring-your-own-tent area.
For glampers there’s the River Front Villa, an area with four dome tents, a private kitchenette, fire boma, braai area and jetty. There are also off-site cottages that sleep between four and 10 people.
Prices start at R995 and all options include four nights of accommodation and festival passes. Get more on accommodation details.
Conveniently, all accommodation options come with festival passes. mage: Wolfkop Weekender
HACK YOUR WEEKEND WITH THESE TIPS
We spoke to founder Werner Rontgen and creative director Richard Marshall, festival legends who’ve thrown countless Wolfkop Weekender events for almost a decade (it celebrates its tenth birthday in January 2024). They gave us some of their top tips for Islands on the River:
It opens Thursday night, so early-comers get an intimate pre-party.
Bringing your own tent? Pitch it under a tree – October is hotter than you think.
Get there early and make the most of the weekend – there's so much to do.
On Sunday, the party moves into the boma and the dancing doesn’t stop until 6am.
Bring buddies because group accommodation works out cheaper.
Welcome the official start of the local festival season at Islands on the River.
Make sure to stay Sunday night too - that’s when the best party happens. Image: Wolfkop Weekender
GO TO ISLANDS ON THE RIVER
Islands on the River 2023 is happening: Thursday 26 - Sunday 29 October (Pre-party Thursday 26 October; After-party Sunday night)
Find it: Wolfkop Camping Villages | Keerom Rd | Citrusdal
Book: Via Wontom
Contact it on: Website, firstname.lastname@example.org, @wolfkopweekender, Facebook
By Julia Rowley
DISCOVER MORE FESTIVALS
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Plan your year with Cape Town’s annual music festivals.
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Find something to do in Cape Town this weekend.