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Tourism boost as Salima hosts LoS

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After so many years of missing out of the equation, Salima District can now breathe a sigh of relief as it has grabbed the spot to host the 2018 main event of the Lake of Stars (LoS) Festival.

The organisers confirmed this in a press statement.

However, LoS will not be held at Sunbird Livingstonia, which was the venue in previous years, but it will be at a new venue.

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With LoS celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, organisers, led by its founder Will Jameson, have indicated that people will experience new things.

LoS is back to the fold this year after a one-year break.

In 2016, the festival was held at its original home of Chintheche Inn in Nkhata- Bay, where acts such as South Africa’s Freshlyground performed.

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A press statement indicates that the three-day extravaganza will take place at Leopard Bay.

The festival, which was recently voted one of the World’s best in the Fest300 Awards, will be held between September 28 and 30 at the newly constructed Kabumba Hotel Resort, situated at the foot of Senga Hills in Salima.

LoS spokesperson, Zilanie Gondwe, said the festival, which has grown from humble beginnings, has more to offer as it celebrates its 15th anniversary.

“Throughout the journey, the festival has attracted only a few hundred visitors and has grown to become an internationally respected event, garnering accolades from many quarters including CNN, BBC, the Mail & Guardian, Lonely Planet and Time Out magazine,” Gondwe said.

She said, over the last 15 years, the festival has brought a unique blend of local and international talent to all three regions of the country, helping to boost tourism across the country and generating revenue for the economy.

Director of Tourism, Isaac Katopola, said they were delighted with the return of the festival.

“We are delighted to see the festival return to Lake Malawi to celebrate their incredible 15 years of culture, music, arts and travel,” Katopola said.

The country’s tourism sector has benefitted a lot since the festival started as it has helped in bringing people from other countries, who also visit some of the attractive places along the lake.

In 2016, a group of people from United Kingdom travelled all the way from Tanzania, where they are working as volunteers, to watch Freshly ground.

They accommodated themselves at Chintheche Inn and some even stayed on to visit some places in Nkhata Bay after the show.

“This is my first time to come to Malawi. I have heard a lot about Malawi through Lake of Stars and I really wanted to visit this, truly, Warm Heart of Africa. The people are very friendly and I would like to visit again,” Maria Wright told The Daily Times in 2016.

Wright said Malawi has potential to grow through its tourism sector but was quick to say players have to construct more hotels along the lake.

Jameson said the breaks they have had have given them time to breathe life into the festival.

“We are happy to be returning to the Central Region and working with a new venue partner in 2018,” he said.

Jameson added: “Lake of Stars is known for breaking new ground in Malawi; so, it’s fitting that, for our 15th anniversary celebrations, WE are offering something new and exciting for our loyal audience.”

Jameson said, when he started the festival, he planned for it to move around the country so that different areas of Malawi could benefit from the boost in tourism, social outreach and economic benefits that the festival brings.

“We are excited to celebrate our special anniversary at Kabumba Hotel, a stunning new site with over a kilometre of beach front, a tranquil wooded hillside and excellent facilities,” he said.

Jameson said the venue is only 140km from Lilongwe, making it accessible to people from all parts of the country and international visitors.

“Fans of the event can expect an exciting programme of local and international music and arts, set on a wide expanse of rolling golden sands backed by a lush tree-covered hillside,” he said.

The announcement of the main event’s venue comes barely three weeks after the organisers held successful LoS London and Scotland on March 10 and 11, respectively.

Before the Los London and Scotland events, the organisers also held a Set It Off show at Great Hall in Zomba in January, when female artists were on fire.

Meanwhile, the organisers have announced the list of the early Malawian acts who have been booked for the main festival.

The list includes fast growing female artist Kim of Diamonds, who will be making her debut at the Lake of Stars following her successful set at Set It Off event in Zomba.

Kim of Diamonds will be joined by Madalitso Band, who impressed at Tanzania’s Sauti za Busara Festival in 2017 and also toured Europe late last year.

George Kalukusha is another artist set to perform at the festival. Kalukusha has just returned to Malawi after a stint honing his musical craft in South Africa.

Alongside these will be Scotland’s Frightened Rabbit, who will up the game with their five-piece indie rock sounds, and poetry from charismatic Scottish wordsmith Michael Pedersen.

“We will make more announcements over the coming months [about artists] spanning music, poetry, theatre, dance and other arts disciplines,” Jameson said.

He said the application process is also open to artists wishing to apply for participation at the festival.

Jameson said, in line with LoS’ tradition of engaging with the community within which it operates, an Outreach Programme will be established again this year, which will see them working closely with the owner of Kabumba Hotel, and community leaders.

According to Jameson, past outreach successes have included hosting a Day of Ideas to inspire and motivate local learners, organising community sports matches, staging free concerts for the local village, recycling wood from the festival into school desks and benches and donating mattresses and sheets to Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe.

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