Elvis Blue.

Innibos is back – with something for everyone

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The stage is set for the renowned Innibos National Arts Festival, which this year incorporates not-to-be-missed English productions and events. As always, the four-day music, creative and visual art extravaganza unfolds in the spectacular Lowveld.

While Innibos festivities were downsized as a result of Covid-19, this year’s festival is back in full force! A full programme of events will be offered from 29 June to 2 July at Bergvlam High School and other venues in Mbombela.

In addition to the highly anticipated Afrikaans drama, comedy, lifestyle, music, art and book programmes, this year’s programme sees various English productions and events, including Poetry Slam and Opera Extravaganza.

Poetry Slam (Words in my Mouth), a Mbombela poetry platform, promotes arts in general in the city and provides up-and-coming poets with the opportunity to perform. The event takes place on 30 June and 1 July, from 16h30 to 19h30, at 420MP, Suikerriet Street. Call Menzi Mkhonza at 073 512 1435 for more information.

Opera Extravaganza, a glorious celebration of opera, takes place on 2 July at 13:00 at the Mbombela City Theatre. The production features internationally renowned South African performers, who will delight with classics such as Pablo de Sarasate’s violin fantasy Carmen Fantasy,and an eight-hand, two-piano arrangement ofMozart’s Overture to The Marriage of Figaro.

The stalwart of South African opera, soprano Loveline Madumo, will be joined by bass Otto Maidi and mezzo Linette van der Merwe, while the esteemed Juilliard School graduate Zanta Hofmeyr will dazzle on the violin. Several of the choral delights from operatic repertoire will be performed by the Nocoré Ensemble, and Theresa Prinsloo will lead six virtuoso pianists. Lowvelder Walter Fourie is the producer of this magnificent production.

Get fresh with Innibos

‘Fresh’, this year’s Innibos theme, says it all, says Sandra Jacobs, the media and marketing manager of Innibos.

“Innibos 2023 offers jam-packed entertainment, with something enticing for all festival-goers, and we are excited to bring these experiences to the Lowveld,” she adds.

You simply can’t get fresher than The Ultimate Kasi Experience @Innibos on 1 July, from noon until late, at Urban House in Sonpark, where patrons can enjoy a delicious selection of traditional African and township cuisine, including lidombolo (dumplings),  maotwana (chicken feet) and kasi peri peri chips, to name a few.

These tasty treats, paired with local drinks and vibrant live entertainment, set the stage for local craftsmen to showcase their innovative products. This is your chance to savour the taste of Africa or own an original African creation. To reserve your spot, call 081 844 0505.

Also new to the festival this year is the Vineyard Festival Garden at the art park on the main festival grounds, where visitors can taste (and purchase) wines from various estates while enjoying some deli snacks from nearby stalls, with easy-listening stage music.

Music for the soul

“Music has always been one of Innibos’ highlights and will be again this year, with our main stage concerts offering prime entertainment every night,” says Jacobs.

The cream of Afrikaans musicians – from Appel and Bok van Blerk to Francois van Coke, Spoegwolf, Bernice West, Elandré, Demi Lee Moore, Droomsindroom, Sunset Sweatshop and Elvis Blue – will rock the main stage each night. The Alternative concert on Saturday night offers a show for those young at heart, with Rubber Duc, Loufi, Zaan Sonnekus and the band Vrede performing. All these concerts are included in the gate entry for the day.


Innibos festival director Andy Lubbe says that while times are tough and people are feeling the pinch, Innibos offers exceptional value for money. “The festival terrain entrance fee includes a full day’s entertainment at the grounds and three-hour, top-quality concerts in the evening. People need their spirits lifted, and we aim to do just that.”

Also not to be missed is the free Praise Him Innibos concert on 2 July at nearby Church Unlimited, featuring Jo Black.

For those who enjoy the theatre, various short productions and talks will take place at the Lowvelder Boma Theatre; while the children’s theatre and exciting activities at Spar Woelwaters will keep the kids entertained.

If it’s stage plays you’re looking forward to, don’t miss the doyenne of Afrikaans theatre, Sandra Prinsloo, in the drama Kamphoer; or the comedies Laerskool Noord, with Marion Holm, Margit Meyer-Rödenbeck, Ilne Fourie and Neels Coetzee; Reünie, written by Dana Snyman (with Frank Opperman); and Hans gee Herklaas horings (with Charlie Bouguenon). Mirakel, one of the festival’s flagship productions, features Dawid Minnaar, Bettie Kemp and Edwin van der Walt and Rolanda Marais. These plays take place at venues outside the festival grounds, but there is an easy shuttle service to get you there and back from the main festival.

Francois van Coke. Image credit: André Badenhorst.

Bosmôl, at the festival grounds, will again be jam-packed with stalls offering a range of goodies, products and scrumptious food, while the popular funfair is bound to draw the crowds.

Entrance fee to the festival grounds is charged per person, per day (kids 12 years and younger enter at no charge) as follows: Thursday, 29 June, R200; Friday, 30 June, R225; Saturday, 1 July, R250. Golden Circle tickets for the main stage concerts are additional to the entrance fee and cost R200 (Friday evening) and R250 (Saturday evening). There is no golden circle on Thursday evening. Week tickets are R600. Tickets are available at Computicket.

Pensioners (60 and older) pay R100 per day, per person. These tickets are not available online. They must be purchased at Gate 1 during the festival, or from the Innibos office in De Villiers Street, Sonpark, Mbombela.

For the full festival programme and links to ticket sales, visit innibos.co.za.