How to have the BEST TIME at Up the Creek Music Festival

up the creek 2019

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to be on the media list for this year’s Up the Creek Music Festival hosted near Swellendam. I can’t tell you how excited I was  – I’ve been twice and KNEW it would be a VIBE!

Now for those of you who are unfamiliar with this festival, to me it is our country’s most UNPRETENTIOUS music festival. It’s all about an awesome vibe, festive floaties, local music and everyone in high spirits. Compared to larger festivals, this one limits tickets to about 3000, allows you to camp next to your car and provides proper ablution facilities. The age range is also much more diverse, ranging from students to veteran old-timers. Up the Creekers are known for their gees, so definitely expect to make some unlikely friends throughout the weekend. 


Friday morning, Andrew and I drove through with our car packed and padkos bacon and egg sarmies READY! We arrived 2 hours later in the blistering heat – and couldn’t pitch our tent fast enough before running for the water. 

If you’re an Up the Creek Newbie, or keen to attend next year – this is definitely the post for you…

How to have the BEST time at Up the Creek:

Prepare for Rain or Shine

up the creek 2019

I’m putting this one at the top of the list because it can go either way. 

Yip – last year it was pouring with rain and (to be honest) I wasn’t quite prepared for all the mud. Let’s just say I was stupid enough to neglect bringing closed shoes (bye bye plakies). Even though I remember being quite disappointed upon arrival – I mean, the whole point is lying on your lilo in the SUN – I can tell you that I was incredibly surprised at the gees of my fellow Up the Creekers. Nobody let the rain get in the way of their good time, and just embraced it on the river (kind of like dancing in the rain). It was AWESOME! Also – the river was full and the swim devine!

So this year, I wasn’t worried about rain as I knew it didn’t put a damper on last year. However, the weather was quite the opposite…

It was HOT. Hot as hell! And silly Loraine thought it would be a good idea to bring her new Birkenstocks. Obviously, I thought better of it and left them in the tent as we made our way down to the river. What a mistake! I fried my feet so badly on the boiling gravel, eventually I begged Andrew to share his slops (many people had a good laugh because each of us were only wearing one slop!). 

Sadly, the river level was pretty low. Many people (us included) were hoping they would let the river down for Saturday (it happened the previous year, where the river was low on Friday and magically full by Saturday morning). Again, my fellow Up the Creekers didn’t disappoint! People started bringing down their gazebos and pitching them on the exposed river banks. My advice – find a way of keeping your booze at the river or drinking out of a very large bottle to avoid climbing the hill back to your tent every 20 minutes.

Don’t be afraid to GLAMP but maybe skip the showers

up the creek 2019

One of my favourite things about Up the Creek (coming from festivals like Rocking the Daisies), is that you have the option to camp at your car. Life changing! If you’ve been to Rocking the Daisies you’ll remember what an absolute MISH it is carting all your stuff to the camping areas. So, the first time I went to Up the Creek, I made sure to pack almost nothing.

No need! You’ll see people pitching massive tents, taking caravans – even groups of people pitching mini towns and bedouin tents. Go nuts! From last year, we upgraded from a two-man tent to a six-man tent (with a little shaded entrance area), and it was so wonderful to be able to stand up while getting changed and fitting a double blow-up mattress in there! Next year, I’ll perhaps pitch a gazebo and a table for cooking an early brekkie.

A note on the showers…

Flipping fantastic that there are ACTUAL bathrooms at this festival (plus a few porta-potties), but I would highly recommend skipping the showers – especially if you’re a girl. Queues are long and prioritising a shower over river fun isn’t a great idea. Girl-level hygiene can take a backseat for one weekend. Plus, being on the river all day helps feeling overly dirty. All you need are a few wet wipes, sweet-smelling deodorant and you’re good to go!

Ice is NB!

up the creek 2019

I can’t stress this enough, especially when it’s as hot as it was this year. The worst possible thing imaginable is having to swallow a hot drink on a blistering hot day. Yuck!

Now, you could pack a thousand bags of ice – but without a good strategy all of it will be melted the morning after you arrive. 

My advice = pack two cooler boxes (or three, the third for food). One for your drinks with ice too keep them cold, and another for just ice. Putting ice with your drinks will melt it a lot faster. You’re welcome!

Pack the Essentials

up the creek 2019

Refer to this list next time you head to Up the Creek:

  • Floatie
  • Tent
  • Mattress
  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Towel
  • Cozzie
  • Flip flops
  • Closed shoes
  • Cool clothes
  • Warm clothes
  • Underwear
  • Cooler boxes: one ice, one drinks, one food
  • Water
  • Sunnies
  • Hat
  • Sunblock
  • Insect repellant
  • Pain killers
  • Toiletries 
  • Wet wipes
  • Plastic bottles to decant alcohol (no glass allowed)
  • Black bags for rubbish
  • Head torch


  • Food

Breakfast: We tried to be semi-healthy and packed wholewheat rolls, but topped them with bacon (cooked at home) and eggs (cooked on a mini gas stove). 

Snacks: Vital flavoured rice chips, protein bars, nuts, biltong

Lunch: More bacon and eggs rolls.

Supper: We didn’t want to fuss when all the good acts were playing on the stage, so we opted for a supper food court meal (there are PLENTY of options).

up the creek 2019
These guys had the best Chow Mein with Springrolls and Sweet and Sour Sauce for my late night munchies!

Drinks: This is obviously an essential along with water, but just wanted to say we went with vodka, lime and water (kept us hydrated and hangover-free!).

  • Gas stove to cook a lekker brekkie
  • Camping chairs (creates an epic campsite vibe with mates)
  • Zip loc bags (I kept my phone with me on the river)
  • Oil for cooking
  • A pan
  • Stuff to clean the pan with
  • A spatula
  • Plastic plates
  • Festive drink cups (I’m loving my pineapple!)
  • Coffee sachets (with milk added already so all you have to do is boil water)
  • Picnic blanket (for 4-7pm watching music on the grass)

OPTIONAL: Save Money

I know Up the Creek is one of the pricier music festivals, but 100% worth it. Here are a few tips to save money elsewhere:

  • Carpool
  • Pack all your own food, booze and coffee
  • Avoid drinks with mix (think spirits and water)
  • Don’t load any money on Howler (if it’s there you’ll probably spend it)
  • Buy a second-hand ticket. This can be dodge – buuuut sometimes you can get good deals on Gumtree or Facebook that will save a ton of money. Just be wary of scam artists. 

GET FESTIVE and ready for a GREAT TIME!

Get yourself amped and ready for a great jol! 

up the creek 2019
up the creek 2019

Their motto is: Don’t be KAK, be LEKA!

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