Ballito’s Willards beach proved, yet again, to be the perfect and ever-obliging host of this year’s Mr Price Pro Ballito Beach Festival which, along with the Mr Price Pro Ballito PRIME ASP World Tour surfing has been labelled as the biggest surf, beach and lifestyle event on the African continent. With gorgeous weather for the majority of the week, the event saw a record number of beach-goers flock to the North Coast beaches with an excess of 70 000 people coming through the gates over the seven days. With the combination of cultural, retail, lifestyle and sports entertainment from an amateur to a professional level, there was something here for each member of the family to enjoy while being presented by engaging MCs such as popular TV personality, Liezel van der Westhuizen.
KwaDukuza municipality boasts a unique lifestyle where locals are able to enjoy both a rich cultural and sporting environment with adventure-type activities such as Microlight Flights and Eco-adventures being a major attraction. However, this event has been instrumental in bringing winter back to the beach and has certainly acted as a platform for increasing interest in the area. KwaDukuza Municipality events co-ordinator, Collette Bundy said, “This event is the cornerstone of showcasing the exclusive lifestyle that we have to offer in KwaDukuza. It boasts a huge increase in tourism which then has a domino effect by adding value to the economy of the area and spin-off opportunities, especially in the hospitality and recreational sectors”.
At the Mr Price Pro Ballito Beach Festival, whether browsing around the retail section which offered everything from clothing to art, jewellery and food or relaxing with a massage before heading to the Hunters Cider Garden, festival-goers had a constant form of entertainment on the Mr Price Pro Beach Festival Entertainment Stage. This stage played host to an array of South African talent which varied from Hip-Hop to Folk music and beat-boxing. Dancers of all genres such as belly-dancers, krumpers and zulu dancers showed off their skills and a visit from Sugar Dance Studio added a surprising element with a flashmob which took over the entire event area.
Brian Capper pulled out all the stops this year with his interactive Trail Bike Exposition which had onlookers gasping at his death-defying acts. Festival-goers were invited to participate, trusting Capper’s talents with their lives as he launched himself over them.
Beach-goers also had more than the surfing to keep themselves thoroughly entertained. An assortment of activities and exhibitions in the sand such as the Eco Coastal Walks, beach soccer, indigenous games as well as the Miss Ballito Beach Mania provided fun for all.
The festival boasted to be an all-inclusive family event, including children, with the Kid’s corner and Ushaka Mascots interacting with the children and teaching them about marine conservation along our beautiful coast line.
Thursday through Saturday nights kept locals and holiday-makers busy. Thursday evening kicked off the night entertainment with the well-attended Film Night where the crowd sat with their toes in the sand to watch ‘The African Project.’ Shoppers were also able to enjoy the night market under the stars on yet another gorgeous North Coast Winter evening while enjoying live entertainment.
Friday turned up the heat with the first night of the Mr Price Ballito Free Music Concert which was held on the Salt Rock beach. People, young and old, flocked onto the sand to rock out to South Africa’s top local bands; Gangs of Ballet, Wonderboom, Ard Matthews Trio, Shadowclub, aKing, Crash Car Burn and Flash Republic. With picnics, coolerboxes and blankets in hand, the crowd appreciated South Africa’s finest bands as the sun set.
Saturday night saw massive crowds joining in the festivities ready to dance under the stars and were certainly not disappointed. South Africa’s best local house and dance artists; Toya deLazy, Lloyd Cele, Iscreamstix, Locnville, Pascal & Pearce, Goodluck and Dino Bravo each put on an explosive performance which had crowds chanting for more despite the icy winds.
The festival also saw an array of extreme sports which had the crowds going for hours with the formal competitions on Friday and Saturday. This year was the first and certainly not the last to host the Professional Parkour competition which was definitely a crowd favourite. Invited Parkour team from Pretoria, Sabotage Elite, made the trip down to join in with local Parkour athletes and compete in what team captain and winner of the Style Competition, Kundai ‘Kenji’ Murapa described as the best Parkour competition to date. Murapa said: “I love Ballito people! The fact that the event was so profoundly hyped up and well supported has created a platform not only for individual progression but also for the unity and promotion of the sport onto higher grounds. Winning the style competition was just the double cherry on top of the cake.” Fellow team member, José Chung snatched up first place for the Speed Competition. For more information on Parkour follow the link on www.streetsutd.com.
The Skating and BMX competitions were advertised on an amateur basis but still saw professional and sponsored athletes such as George Van Bleak and Martin Stoffberg pull through and truly impress the crowd. Competing with true gut and determination, the winners of the competitions were truly deserved. Darren Oatley scored a double win by coming out on top of both the Best Trick and Best Run competitions in the BMX finals. Kalvyn MacMillan wowed the judges with his ‘backside 180 down the stairs’ which earned his first place in the Best Trick skating competition while crowd favourite and local, Thalente Biyela, won the Best Run.
The surf competition saw underdog entry Glenn Hall from Ireland winning first place. South Africa had both Jordy Smith and Travis Logie knocked out after the quarter finals by Nat Young and Nathaniel Curran respectively.
Collette Bundy was immensely pleased with the results of the event and said: “I believe that this year has shown that the Mr Price Pro Ballito Beach Festival has finally established itself as what we hope to be a permanent annual fixture of the KwaDukuza calendar for many years to come. Many thanks must be said to all of our sponsors including Distell, ABI, Red Bull, First Resort and Independent Newspapers whose hard work and dedication have resulted in the immense success of this event”.