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About the Project
Lake of Stars promotes Malawian arts and tourism through international interaction and exposure. We organise festivals on the shores of Lake Malawi and in Malawi’s capital of Lilongwe, and run events in Europe and across Africa.
Will Jameson set up the Lake of Stars Project in 2003 to encourage international tourism to Malawi, taking inspiration from events like WOMAD and Glastonbury. The project uses cultural tourism to generate revenue and exposure for Malawi.
The project was born from a desire to raise money for a developing economy, help promote Malawi as a tourist destination and expose Malawian artists to an international audience.
Will Jameson first visited Malawi in 1998 when he worked in Dwangwa as a volunteer with the Wildlife Society for 6 months. During that time he travelled to Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique. On returning to England Will took with him a souvenir – an empty carton of Chibuku Shake Shake beer. Half way through university at Liverpool John Moores he decided to start a clubnight with friends. They named the night after the Malawian beer and went on to win Best UK Club in the Mixmag Awards in 2004.
It was in this same year that Will launched the first Lake of Stars Festival, headlined by Chibuku favourite Andy Cato from Groove Armada. The festival attracted dozens of people from Europe and hundreds attended from all over Malawi and Southern Africa. It won the Malawi Tourism Award in its first year and has grown to become one of the best known African festivals on the global circuit.
For eight of the project’s ten years the festival has been set on the shimmering, palm-fringed shores of Lake Malawi. Malawian and international artists gather for a musical, social and cultural exchange in a festival location like no other. The festival acts as the focal point when travelling around this beautiful country, forming part of an itinerary spanning all that Malawi has to offer.
After taking a break from the festival in 2012 to support local initiatives, the project returned last year with City of Stars, our ten year anniversary event that took place in September. A multi-venue arts festival and conference, City of Stars showcased the best in emerging and acclaimed talent from Malawi and beyond, and featured an eclectic programme of live music, film, theatre, exhibitions and speakers. It promoted Malawian culture and creativity as well as attracting international artists and arts practitioners.
Festival Figures for Lake of Stars 2011
- 200 million people exposed through the media to a positive Malawian story
- $1.6million generated spend by the festival
- $500,000 Advertising Value Equivalent
- 6000+ Friends on Facebook
- 3800 People in attendance
- 414 Performers
- 200+ employment opportunities created
- 160 Volunteers
- 88 Artistic acts
- 87 hours of entertainment
- 30+ nationalities in attendance
- 13 Countries with participating artists
- 5 Chinese classical artists
- 3 Day road trip of two bands from Cape Town
- 2 Japanese tap dancers
- 1 Incredible weekend
Top 20 Festivals in the World
according to the Independent
9th Best Festival in the World’
according to British Airways’ Horizon magazine
Known as ‘the warm heart of Africa’ because of the incredibly friendly and welcoming locals, combined with a rich musical history, Malawi couldn’t be a better place to hold a festival. There’s a bit of planning involved in getting to Lake Of Stars but a paradise awaits when you arrive.
…the life-affirming Lake of Stars offers a fascinating opportunity to experience the musical pulse of this inspiring country.
David Taylor, The Independent
This has been a life changing experience for all us…come here for the people, come for the music, come for the famous Malawian hospitality, come here for that lake…just make sure that you come here soon.
Jo Good, MTV/BBC6Music
…be ahead of the crowd and get acquainted with Malawian music in situ… great music, friendly people, and a beautiful location. Get there before everyone else does
Simon Broughton, Songlines/Wanderlust
The annual Lake of Stars festival is bringing international flair to Malawi’s palm-fringed shores
Mari McCloy, Mail & Guardian (South Africa)
…truly, it changed my life
Paul MacInnes, The Guardian
The tourist brochures bill Malawi as ‘the warm heart of Africa’, and for once the hype is true. Malawi’s scenery is gorgeous and varied and Malawians are extremely friendly toward travellers.
In today’s saturated festival climate Lake of Stars is utterly unique. It redefines the festival experience as we know it…there isn’t another festival like this on the planet
Rahul Verma, The Metro