On December 29 2017, as has become tradition, the usually quiet resort town of Victoria Falls burst into life with the iflix Vic Falls Carnival.
Thousands of merrymakers from various parts of the world descended upon the home of the majestic Mosi-oa-Tunya for this epic extravaganza that has grown to become the continent’s biggest New Year’s celebration party.
It was evident that something extraordinary was about to happen even before the first event kicked off.
The congestion in the town centre, which was created by people jostling to get to their various hotels, lodges and campsites, created a lively atmosphere.
The three-day event started with the iconic Train and Bush Party, which went beyond wildest expectations with a sold out crowd, the majority donning traditional garments; and a set of DJs that took no prisoners.
With DJ Francis behind the decks on the train, it was either physics or luck that prevented the train from tipping over as the enthusiastic crowd would sometimes jump up and down with so much vigour, causing the train to swing like a pendulum.
With the last train pulling up at the secret bush location at around 8.30pm, having already delivered two loads of revellers earlier, the party exploded with top DJs including Rax, Reverb 7 and Bhana among others, keeping the music pumping.
From the reaction that Rax got when he dropped Jah Prayzah’s “Kutonga Kwaro” during his set, it was clear that there was a sizeable number of locals in the crowd. So hyped up was the crowd such that calls for some of the people to hop on the second from last train ferrying people into town went unheeded as no one wanted to have an early night.
Day two had people attending various pool parties that were hosted at different venues in the afternoon before making their way to Victoria Falls Farm School where the Electric Safari Concert was being held.
With the main act on the day being one of the biggest entertainers on the continent, Black Coffee, the night was indeed special. The hit-maker made sure that he lived up to his billing, with an extraordinary set that left the crowd for dead. His unparalleled mixing skills coupled with a playlist packed with electronic bangers kept revellers on their feet while loud roars and screams accompanied every new song to the set.
Other performers who brought their A game on the night and managed to give music lovers an exciting carnival experience included El Mukuka, DJ InviZAble and Mi Casa.
The last day of the carnival, the crossover into the New Year, which had the Unity Concert held at Victoria Falls Farm School, was also super exciting with the likes of Ammara Brown, Prince Kaybee, Tresor and The Kiffness taking to the stage.
Ammara Brown has always showcased tonnes of energy on stage and she managed to hold her own, getting the multiracial crowd to groove to her music. With current and old time hits including “Yonkinto”, “Charlotte”, “Friend Zone”, “Better Days” and “Wajellwa”, Prince Kaybee was certainly one of the artistes fans were looking out for on the night and he delivered a solid set when he came on.
The climax of the show came at the final countdown into the New Year, which had the crowd, aided by a timer on the big screen, counting down the last 10 seconds of 2017 and then exploding into loud cheers on the stroke of midnight.
The sky immediately lit up with fireworks as LED poi dancers and fire breathers displayed their tricks while large iflix beach balls were tossed into the crowd, creating a unique carnival atmosphere. The Kiffness, who were on stage at the time, burst into song and the party continued, but at a higher gear this time around as the crowd celebrated the arrival of 2018.
This year’s edition was definitely bigger as it attracted more merrymakers than previous editions with people from Botswana making up the majority of the crowd. Other regional countries that were well represented included South Africa, Namibia and Zambia with the rest of the foreign crown made up of people from European, American and Asian countries.
There were also scores of locals who pitched up with most of them coming from Harare and Bulawayo, showing that Zimbabweans are warming up to the carnival idea.
Speaking to The Sunday Mail Society, festival marketing director Charlotte Kanter said as always, the atmosphere was electric with thousands of music lovers anticipating the best New Year countdown in Africa.
“We were overwhelmed with the event from the acts that performed right down to attendance and I can safely say this has been our best edition so far,” said Kanter, adding, “This was simply the biggest Vic Falls Carnival ever because we had over 2 000 attendees for the Train party while over 5 000 attended the concert on the 30th with over 5 000 also coming through on the final day of the event.
“As for the performances, I believe the artistes were well prepared for the event and we had standout performances from the likes of Ammara Brown, Black Coffee, Flying Bantu and Prince Kaybee.”
Dave Scott from The Kiffness said they had the best experience at this year’s carnival having enjoyed the epic activities and falling in love with “super friendly people”.
“The crowd was insane and we really enjoyed seeing people enjoying and waving flags from various countries, which made it feel like a real global event,” said Scott.
He added: “It got super crazy when we played ‘Too Blessed To Be Stressed’ right after the countdown and I think it was because the vibe fit the moment pretty well.”
This is not the first time for the group to perform in Zimbabwe.
“It’s been pretty festive in previous editions but the energy was palpable this year and I think it is because the crowd was much bigger. I think the organisers also did a great job in picking the right line-up and going the extra mile to make sure that it was a great experience for everyone.”
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