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africa oye
source: Africa Oyé

A Guide To Liverpool’s Africa Oyé Festival 2018

Sefton Park will be filled with colourful dancing, drumming and the sunshine sounds of Africa Oyé this weekend, as the festival arrives in south Liverpool.

The annual two-day park bonanza is the UK’s biggest live music celebration of African music and culture, with performances from international artists across Saturday June 16 and Sunday June 17.

Situated at the Croxteth Drive end of Sefton Park, the festival is free entry.  Performances kick off just after midday and end around 9:30pm, but there are plenty of after-parties happening at venues across the city into the early hours.

Check out our guide below for all the must-see music highlights and can’t-miss workshops, food stalls and craft traders at the festival this weekend.

What’s happening at Africa Oyé?

Music-wise, the main stage will host both international artists and Liverpool locals as they celebrate the vibrant and inspiring music of the African continent. Three DJ ‘zones’ situated across the site are also set to provide festival goers with reggae, hip-hop, funk and dub.

And it’s not just music: over 30 food stalls in the Oyé Village are serving up global cuisines while traders and makers will be selling an eclectic mix of items from handmade Ecuadorian jumpers to Iranian rugs.

New for 2018, the festival will also have a Wellbeing Zone, where festival-goers can enjoy workshops on reiki (Japanese alternative medicine), massage and even henna. Liverpool Mental Health Consortium are also bringing their Headspace Hanger down to Sefton Park, where tired-out music lovers can relax in a quiet space on deckchairs.

On the Main Stage

africa oye
source: Africa Oyé

This year’s main stage at Africa Oyé will see a dazzling array of international artists performing to the Oyé crowd, including legendary reggae band Inner Circle, international music star Rocky Dawuni and one of Africa’s biggest orchestras – Orchestre Poly-Rythmo Fan – who will be getting the crowds going with an eclectic mix of traditional Beninese music, Nigerian Afrobeat and Congolese rumba.

Saturday will see Senegalese singer-songwriter Marema kick-start her UK debut on the Main Stage, followed by headline act Rocky Dawun, from Ghana, with his infectious grooves and dance-inducing anthems from 8:15pm.

africa oye
source: Africa Oyé

Playing the headline spot on the Sunday are Jamaican reggae band Inner Circle, celebrating their 50th anniversary as one of the world’s most respected reggae bands. Catch them on the Main Stage to enjoy their string of hits dating back as far as the mid-70s. Highlights include ‘Bad Boys’ and ‘Sweat’.

Oyé Introduces

At 1:10pm on both days of the festival, up-and-coming local acts will take to the Main Stage to perform.

africa oye
source: Africa Oyé

Watch out for some of Liverpool’s brightest young stars including Remée, a Liverpool local, who is performing on Saturday. Picked as one of the top 3 artists in the 2017 Liverpool International Music Festival Academy, Remée recently had a track played on BBC 1Xtra and is working on her first EP, set to be released this summer.

DJ Sets

Elsewhere in the festival, the three other ‘zones’ will see DJ sets from over 35 artists, including Dub Defenders, Dharma Collective, Giovanna and Liverpool regulars Melodic Distraction. Head to Trenchtown for top Afro-centric DJs and Freetown to enjoy a drink from the bar while you dance to hip-hop, funk, reggae and dub.

The Oyé Active Zone

Africa Oye
source: Africa Oyé

If you’re feeling like learning some new dances moves, there’s nowhere better to head than the Oyé Active Zone, where performances and workshops are taking place across the weekend for energy-filled festival-goers. A Brazilian dance workshop from Côco-Movema and Juba do Leão will be kicking off the festival on Saturday from the main stage, but you’ll also find Movema in the Active Zone across the weekend, taking you though all the grooves of Brazil. Other highlights include a Congolese dance session, a salsa class and Afro-Caribbean dance lessons.

If you feel like you might need a calming start to the Sunday, get involved with the relaxing yoga class from Natasha Wilksberg before finding your rhythm in the afternoon at the African Drum Workshop (Don’t worry – drums provided).

Food and Drink at Africa Oyé

africa oye
source: Africa Oyé

You’re going to be spoilt for choice with food options at Africa Oyé this year. Cuisines from all around the globe will be served up throughout the two days. Smithdown favourites Little Furnace Pizzas will be offering their signature wood-fired Neapolitan style pizzas while Ank Marvin’s Exotic Game are set to offer a range of rare and exotic burgers from around the world (including crocodile,  springbok and zebra). Vegetarians should head to Uber Tuber, who specialise in jacket potatoes piled high with vegetarian fillings.

For authentic afro-Caribbean meals, check out Kenyan grill house Mezani Grill Ltd, or head to Mumz Bak-A-Yard Caribbean Food for some classic jerk.

Three licenced bars will be serving all day across the site, but festival-goers are also welcome to bring their own drinks to the park.  You will also be able to pick up fresh coconut water served straight from the nut at the Simply Coco stand and 100% fresh-fruit smoothies from Quenchers Smoothies.

Traders and Makers at Africa Oyé

africa oye
source: Africa Oyé

The Oyé Village will be hosting makers and traders of a huge array of products. Look out for authentic global art and hand-crafted African drums alongside handmade jumpers from Ecuador, vintage clothing and handmade jewellery.

Fun for the Family

africa oye
source: Africa Oyé

Kids will be spoilt for choice at Africa Oyé: chose from child-friendly activities including storytelling, face painting and arts and crafts activities. Potential Kings and Queens of the Dance should head down to the Active Zone on Saturday evening for an 18-and-under dance battle with Afrobeats Liverpool.

Official After-Parties

africa oye
source: Africa Oyé

Want to carry on the party past 9:30pm on Saturday 16 June? Head to one of the five official after-parties happening across the city after hours over the weekend.

Sound Basement on Duke Street are hosting Oyé Introduces star Remée alongside other artists from 8pm, while the Kazimier Garden will be entertaining revellers until 2am. For late opening, head to 24 Kitchen Street where Oyé DJs are continuing the party with a night of afrobeat or visit The Reeds for their Afro Bantu event that won’t be closing its doors until 6am.

If you’re hoping for a late night on the Friday, check out the Africa Oyé pre-party at the Kazimier Garden from 5pm until midnight.

Feeling something more relaxed? Lark Lane is just around the corner from Sefton Park, so if you fancy sipping red wine at Keith’s Wine Bar or nibbling on tapas from Monkey Grinder, check out our Guide to a Night Out on Lark Lane.

New at Africa Oyé for 2018

The festival-providers have teamed up with HeyHub, a smartphone app that lets you share photos and videos of the day with others at the event and get your images and messages featured on the big screen. It will also provide you with up-to-date festival information, competitions and more.


We hope you have an incredible time at Africa Oyé 2018! Tell us what you’re looking forward to the most this weekend in the comments below.

About Laura Bowery

Laura is a creative writer who has an interest in all types of artistic expression, be it food, music, fashion or art and she enjoys sharing those interests through her writing

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