Rocking The Daisies – Where Flower Power Meets Music With A Message

Rocking The Daisies – Where Flower Power Meets Music With A Message

Rocking The Daisies – Where Flower Power Meets Music With A Message


Four days. It doesn’t sound like much, but for thousands of music fans across South Africa, it is everything! Because for those four days every year, the Rocking The Daisies Music and Lifestyle Festival takes over the Cloof Wine Estate in Darling in the Western Cape.

Since it was first launched 12 years ago, “Daisies” has evolved into South Africa’s best-loved music festival. With 25 000 people attending the 2017 event, it is now the country’s biggest outdoor gathering.

Here’s a quick question for you: How can you spot a seasoned Rocking The Daisies festival-goer from a newbie? The answer: Wellington boots! Daisies veterans know that after the first thousand people have put up their tents and walked around a little, the ground is churned up to the point that the only footwear worth wearing is a pair of sturdy wellies!

Rocking The Daisies is always held on the first weekend in October and many see it as the official start of the summer party season. But it’s not just about the music and the fun (although admittedly, that it is a lot of what it’s about!) Over and above that, however, there’s a sincere and serious environmental message.


Play Hard, Tread Lightly

The festival’s motto encapsulates everything it stands for, promoting greener living and more eco-friendly lifestyles. Every year, Rocking The Daisies raises the eco bar, incorporating more and more environmentally friendly products and practices into every aspect of the festival.

In addition to recycling stations, there are also generators powered with bio-diesel, biodegradable shampoo, and soap in the ablution facilities, and LED lighting. Most merchandise on sale is made from Hemp, and trees are planted to make up for the carbon emissions of all the festival-goers driving to the venue. These drivers are also encouraged to bring at least two passengers. Even the programmes are printed on recycled paper! Rocking the Daisies is determined to be as carbon neutral and green as possible.

The organizers make it their mission to not only promote eco-consciousness during the festival itself but to also educate people on how they can embrace environmental principles in their own lives once they get home.


Two Friends, One Dream, No Money

Brian Little and Craig Bright always dreamed of holding large-scale music events in South Africa. Craig was already organizing sporting events in Durban, so, in an attempt to build both the money and the experience needed to host a multi-day music festival, the friends began hosting beach volleyball and rugby tournaments. After a year of doing this successfully in Durban, they opened an office in Cape Town. Sadly, however, the success they enjoyed in KZN didn’t travel, and no one in the Mother City wanted to hire them.

“It became a discussion over braais and beers with our mates,” says Brian. “What could we do to showcase ourselves? Eventually, we realised that to win clients, we needed a branded music event that showcased what we could do.”

The idea of Rocking the Daisies was born, but it was definitely not a case of “and the rest is history!” The two friends had no money, no venue, and no acts. In true pioneering spirit, however, they didn’t let any of those things stop them.


Debt, Determination, And Daisies

The first thing they did was choose a date. They decided that spring was a great time in the Western Cape. Why? Because they could tie in the festival with the annual blooming of the Namaqualand daisies. (Are you getting a hint of how the festival got its name?) The next step was finding a venue.

“We started calling all our old boarding schoolmates to see who had a farm we could use,” remembers Craig. One friend said yes. The rental amount took them four years to pay back, but at least they had a venue.

What they didn’t have was money.

Craig sold his house and Brian sold his car. They both borrowed money from their parents. However, inexperience meant they initially spent a lot of the little money they did have on the wrong things.

“We were so ambitious about how many people would attend,” says Craig. “We didn’t want anyone sneaking in without paying, so we put up two kilometres of fencing. It cost us R20 000, and then only 700 people arrived!”

That inaugural concert cost just over R1 million Rand. They had just R350 000.

“We owed on the venue, the bands, and the equipment,” says Brian. “We worked with some very understanding people who basically waited a long time to be paid.” They made a huge loss the first year but had such great feedback that they decided to keep going, despite the losses.

The following year, there were 4 500 people at the festival. This was also the first year the event partnered with Cloof Wine Estate, where it’s been held ever since. By the third year, crowds had grown to 10 000. In 2017, Rocking the Daisies drew over 25 000 people, and attracted a sponsorship of R3.5 million.

“We’ve learned so much about perseverance, following your passions and organic growth, says Brian. “We’ve been patient, and we’ve grown this incredible brand as a result.”


Flowers Into The Future

In 2016, Steyn Entertainment bought Rocking The Daisies from its original founders. But don’t panic hard and fast Daisies fans! Yes, the new owners have introduced an updated, young vibe, but they also want to maintain the unique essence and spirit of the festival Phew!

In 2017, the new organizers added separate venues (all within a short walk of the main stage) for comedy acts, electronica, and drum & bass. There is definitely something for everyone, and people from all walks of life make this pilgrimage for their own individual reasons. Most come to appreciate music from some of the best bands in the country, but others come to soak up the energy or to simply enjoy a camping long weekend with a difference.


Music For Everyone

Rocking The Daisies definitely isn’t one of those festivals where no one’s heard of the bands in the lineup. 2017’s top-billed act was international sensation Flume. This electronic music producer won Best Dance/Electronic Album for ‘Skin’ at the 2017 Grammy Awards. The album features two platinum-certified songs, Never Be Like You and Say It, which features Tove Lo, who opened for Coldplay during their recent European tour.

Flume has previously won no fewer than eight ARIA awards in his native Australia and was one of the first artists to top 200 million Soundcloud streams.

Other acts included Irish indie rock band Two Door Cinema Club, Black Coffee, Fokofpolisiekar, Ricky Rick, Die Heuwels Fantasties and Cassper Nyovest. International bands included New Zealand’s The Naked and Famous, and American hip-hop artist Joey Bada$$.

The Red Bull Electronic Arena is the only stage to stay open until 7 am on Sunday morning. It showcased Italian Sam Paganini’s ‘Sexy Groovy Dark Techno’ and DJ duo Snakehips. Patrick Topping from the UK played a phenomenal set at the Corona Beach Bar, while the Trap House, presented by VUZU Amp, showcased some of South Africa’s hottest hip-hop acts.

2017’s Daisies also saw the launch of The Marabi Club. In this unique space, people can play poker, enjoy fine whiskey, and listen to jazz, Congolese country music and Latin.

We’re not joking when we say there really is something for everyone, so make sure you’re at the 2018 Rocking The Daisies music festival. See you there!


Check out the official Rocking the Daisies after movie:

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