The Dog days are just about over, and to celebrate the advent of 2019, many people are heading to the Drakensberg for an epic festival.

The Smoking Dragon Festival, now in its ninth year, features 5 stages, each with their own theme and focus: The Mainstream, The Electric Jungle, the Ripple Stage, the Fringe and the Pink Tent.

It is the Pink Tent that truly sets this festival apart from other similar music festivals. The Pink Tent is an inclusive space where everyone, regardless of creed or sexual orientation, is welcome. This year features artists Tony Bala, Andy Mkosi, Msaki, Peter Ngqibs and Rainbow Abomination, performance artists Mx Blouse and Umlilo & Stash, and top DJs Kyle Worde, Hyroine, Verandah Panda, Abby Nurock, Simstar and ANG. Two international DJs will also take to the Pink Tent’s stage.

The Smoking Dragon Festival is held at the foot of the imposing Drakensberg mountain range from 29 to 31 December, and general tickets have already gone on sale, selling for R855 for all three days. If you haven’t grabbed your ticket yet, please visit the Smoking Dragon website, or call 082 551 2495 for more information.

Whatever your taste of music or entertainment, you’ll be catered for at the Smoking Dragon Festival. Here are some of the highlights of the different stages.

The Mainstream has popular appeal with big names like Mi Casa, Monark, December Streets and Phfat gracing its stage. Although there are always classic acts on the bill, Smoking Dragon truly stands out from other conventional festivals by choosing rising stars with meaningful messages and oodles of talent, over those that simply sell tickets. Examples of these would be the world-class electronic duo Lo-Ghost, Sun Xa Experiment or Kongo Elektro. Women are also often overlooked in the industry, and so The Mainstream showcases only female-fronted acts on the first night. Patrons will be treated to the thrilling pianist Busijazz, vocal gymnast Zuko and Holly-Rey who is taking the country by storm with her hit “Deeper.”

The Electric Jungle, the official EDM area – like all the other stages – explores multiple genres and thus draws people from different worlds together. Here the headliners include upcoming three-time SAMA Award-winning producer Sun-El, Pascal & Pearce, Mark Stent, Das Kapital, Ryan Murgatroyd, Hippie Mafia and Haezer to name a few.

The Ripple Stage overlooks one of the dams, a chilled and popular hangout in the day as the hordes cool down to the tunes of world music DJs like Mystikal Ebony, Aphro Hlophe and Eye-On Feather. Solo acts include Gavin W Ferguson, Werner Bekker and Johnny Deville, topped off with acoustic bands like TUG, Soundwarmer or House of Kumba.

The Fringe features hip hop newbies, jazz, acoustic and comedy. The outspoken say their thing as we welcome poets, acoustic acts and beatboxers to the stage. There are three collaborating groups from Jozi and PTA, Deep Soweto, Home Lounge and SAAM. Beatbox Soweto, Automatic, Siya Shezi and many more. Expect wholesome food, fresh juices, vegan meals, a massage area and yoga in the morning.”