I asked a friend how she would describe her experience at Kilifi NYE. Without missing a beat she said ‘Two days of magic in the Kilifi jungle’. Couldn’t have summed it up any better myself. Kilifi was magic!
As soon as I heard of the lineup at Kilifi NYE, I knew that was my New Year’s Eve plan right there. Firstly, there was Bengatronics. Secondly, the classically trained violinist, Seth Schwarz. Thirdly, the trio of Gregg Tendwa, Eddie Gray and Makadem. Also on the line up were; Be Svendsen, Umojah Sound System, Luke Redford, Pete Rowbots, Dread Steppa, Lucky Birdi, Enchan and Chucky. Finally,Electrafrique and DJ Cortega . I had never been to Kilifi and was not sure what to expect. Nonetheless, with free camping as an option for the duration of the festival, I knew I’d be alright.
I got into Kilifi in the early morning of 31st after some annoying travel delays. Meanwhile, the folks over at Kilifi NYE had been holding a series of gigs leading up to the festival. I was bummed to have missed out on EA Wave, Marushka and Cosmic Homies, who had a gig there the day before, but very excited to finally be in Kilifi.
It was the end of the year, and the energy was alive, vibrating in the heat and humidity. The vibe was contagious. I walked into Distant Relatives a little tired from travel but as soon as I had that Kilifi NYE pass wrapped around my wrist, it all dissipated into the magic of Kilifi.
The decor was gorgeous. Built mostly from recycled material staying true to the festival’s spirit of conscious, social and environmental responsibility. In the two days I spent partying, I can’t recall ever seeing an empty beer can or water bottle on the ground, and even when I did, someone picked it up seconds later. I’ve been to many festivals and I have never seen that level of earth consciousness at any of them. The grounds remained litter free the entire time.
The food was delicious. Vendors had set up shop throughout the festival to provide food for the hungry ravers. There was a camping section with showers and huge bed like contraptions made from bamboo where you could lay your head down when tired.
The main stage was built entirely from bent bamboo branches. With performances from Bengatronics, Enchan, Chucky and Electrafique, the dancing carried through to the next day. The highlight of my first day wasn’t even the New Year countdown, but the reggae vibes during sunrise. I had passed out a little on those comfortable bamboo beds (It was 31st guys, don’t judge) and woke up to some roots reggae chunes from Dreadsteppa and Umojah Sound System with the first sunrise peaking through the creek. It was all a very spiritual moment for me.
On the second day, people who had attended other NYE Parties around the Coast on the night of the 31st, all descended on Kilifi on the 1st. EA Wave who were performing in Diani at Beachlife the night before, were having a banging time on the Kilifi NYE dance floor the entire night.
At around 9pm on the final day it was time for the main event. The burning of the arm shaped makuti structure emerging from the water in the creek. We were lead down the hill to the creek in a parade, with the music still bumping and people chanting and dancing. When the structure lit up, it took my breath away.
DJ Cortega came up for another set at midnight and shut it down. Here I was on very little sleep, hyperventilating from climbing up and down the hill to the creek (clearly I have to work on my fitness in 2017), yet I absolutely had to be on the dancefloor when Cortega, later joined by Electrafique, were dropping dope beats. I stayed up until sunrise and called it a wrap.
Wishing you all a bit of magic this 2017.