Cape Town-based electro-house outfit Goldfish led the countdown as a rain-drenched multiracial crowd from different parts of the world welcomed 2015 at the Victoria Falls Primary School, popularly known as Farm School, on New Year’s eve.
Earlier, superstar Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi had set the bar high with a solid 45-minute set, which was laden with celebratory songs as thousands of merrymakers waited for the New Year.
Tuku’s stage had been warmed up by a much younger star, Winky D, the face of Zim dancehall, with an act described by many as “first-class”.
The Jameson Victoria Falls Carnival, which has taken different forms since its inception in 2009, is easily Zimbabwe’s biggest New Year’s Eve party, lasting three days.
Festivities began with a rail trip into the bush on a steam train.
Deep inside the game park, near Jafuta Lodge in the Fuller forest, with wild animals roaming freely, DJs set up shop to give hundreds of thrill-seeking tourists a time of their lives.
This year local, regional and international DJs assembled at the “secret” location on Monday with lowly rated Kwekwe-based DJ Stavo stealing the show at a star-studded event that saw DJ Francis, Dan C, Toby2Shoes, DJ Acedabass and Sebastian Dutch take turns on the turntables.
On Tuesday, the carnival burst into colour at the central location, the Farm School.
Fun lovers put on their white gear, grabbed a handful of colourful powder and enjoyed their second-last day of the year in scenes reminiscent of the Borrowdale Colour Run, which took place early last month.
The event, which started in the afternoon and ended just after 6pm, had people partying all day long with top-class DJs. The likes of C_U Rage (Namibia), Eleftherios Mukuka (Zambia), Anthea Scholtz (South Africa), Rob Macson (Zimbabwe) and B2B Nic Fourie (Zimbabwe) rocked the stage as thousands tossed colourful powder at each other in a non-discriminatory and cheerful manner.
As day turned into night, the whole town became an after party of the colour party, with top entertainment joints as well as some dingy nightclubs hosting scores of fun-loving, carefree revellers.
Places like Shoestrings, Vic Falls Rest Camp, Adventure Lodge, Imvuvu and Wild Thing were bustling throughout the night as the climax of the carnival drew closer.
The last night of 2014 or rather the first day of 2015, was a party never to forget – a once-in-a-lifetime New Year’s experience for some – a party amidst the Smoke that Thunders (Mosi-oa-Tunya).
And on that night, two young DJs who are the bottom feeders at internationally acclaimed sound house, Judgement Yard, got their chance to shine.
With an overdose of electro pop, house, rave and so forth – it is no surprise that the uncelebrated duo of DJ Twobad and MC Asha B had audiences eating out of their hands.
They brought a breath of fresh air to the festival with a different playlist that eclipsed performances by the musical mavericks, Beatenberg, and internationally renowned DJ Jason Le Roux.
The Harare-based Judgement Yard closed the event in style, with some reggae classics and timeless dancehall songs.
Meanwhile, hotels, restaurants, bottle stores and fuel stations, among many other service providers, operated 24/7 as tourists went from one event or activity to the other.
Traffic jams were the order of the day and some businesses were even caught napping by the festival, as some service stations ran out of fuel while some beer brands and even ice became scarce.
For the average visitor, middle to low-income earners, the level by which money exchanged hands and the amounts involved were incomprehensible.
The cheapest ticket at the carnival, for instance, cost US$50 while a hotdog and a soft drink could see one parting with US$15.
Activities like white water rafting, sunset river cruises, upper Zambezi canoeing, elephant back safaris, canopy tours, gorge swinging and adventure slides, were fully booked yet requiring an arm and a leg to be enjoyed.
Festival goers enjoyed 15 percent discounts on several of the activities though, with adrenaline junkies taking advantage of the packages to do bungee jumping or bridge swinging, helicopter flips over the mighty Victoria Falls, Devil’s Pool, Victoria Falls Tram and Bridge Tours, lion encounters and much more.
Now carrying the name of its chief sponsor, Jameson (whiskey), the first formal music festival in Victoria Falls started in 2009, then known as the Falls Fest.
In 2012 Victoria Falls Carnival was founded, and last year Seed Experiences were brought on board and the festival became the Jameson Victoria Falls Carnival.
For its age, the Victoria Falls Carnival is a great success and could become the biggest festival in Africa if the organisers put more into content.
Maybe because the town itself has so much to offer tourists, organisers of the three-day fiesta find it unnecessary to up the ante in terms of entertainment value.
However, Victoria Falls is truly an international destination – fantastic for families and people of all ages.