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Festival Passport – Sunwaves Zanzibar

We begin our new travel-focused clubbing feature, Festival Passport, with the Romanian festival Sunwaves and their Zanzibar edition for 2021.

Welcome to the first instalment of our new travel-focused clubbing feature, Festival Passport. 

Keeping you up to date with all you need to know about some of the best globally well-known festivals, we will also introduce you to some lesser-known spots and hidden gems that you absolutely must visit.

As we open our Festival Passport for the first time, we head to Zanzibar – a Tanzanian archipelago off the coast of East Africa, in the Indian Ocean, 25–50 kilometres (16–31 mi) off the coast of the mainland.

Home to the next edition of renowned Romanian-based festival Sunwaves, Zanzibar consists of many small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, referred to informally as Zanzibar) & Pemba Island.

Entry Requirements (Visa/Inoculations etc.):

More than 40 countries are not required and Visa. The rest can opt for an eVisa (and apply online for it). We recommend you have Malaria and Yellow Fever shots, but they are not mandatory. 

Local Currency (Incl. average costs):

The local currency in Zanzibar is the Tanzanian Shilling (TZS).

1000 TZS = 0.30 GBP

Averages daily costs (TZS): 

Single Room – 50,568 (GBP 15.37)
Double Room – 101,136 (GBP 30.74)
Meals – 34,288 (£10.42)
Public Transport – 23,362 (£7.10)
Alcohol – 14,216 (£4.32)
Water – 1,667 (£0.50)

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Recommended Hotels: 


Recommended Beaches: 

Calm and quiet:

Pwani Mchangani

Busy and lively:


Recommended Restaurants:

Luukman Restaurant
6 Degrees South
Mercury Restaurant

Recommended Cultural Experiences:

Sunset-viewing afloat the Indian ocean. 
Traditional foods and authentic live music at the famous Forodhani Market.

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Recommended Hidden Gems: 

Diving and snorkelling at Chumbe Island coral reef. 
Cheetah’s Rock wildlife rescue and conservation centre. 
The slave market memorial.
Jambo spice farm.

Ones To Watch at Sunwaves Zanzibar:

Nu Zau
Black Coffee

Things to Remember / Local Rules:

Conservative attire is required in Stone Town and highly populated areas, but not beaches, nor the festival area itself. 

Common Travel Routes to the Sunwaves Zanzibar:

From Barcelona, Paris, London, Sofia to Doha or Dubai, then on to Zanzibar. Alternatively, there is an Amsterdam – Zanzibar direct route option available.

Speaking to Sunwaves

To add to our travel guide, we also spoke to a representative from the Sunwaves team to give us/you some more insight on what to expect from this year’s edition of the festival. 

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Sunwaves is well-known for its Romanian roots. When picking an alternative location, how did you arrive at Zanzibar?

We realize Sunwaves is directly associated with Romania, as we never did an international edition before. We weighed up our chances of organizing the Spring edition in Mamaia, but when we realized we would be unable to do it so we thought of a place to represent us best, and Zanzibar was 1st on the list. We chose this beautiful island for its wild beaches, the authenticity of the place and people (which will inspire the festival altogether), and its availability to accommodate such an event.

After so long without festivals and live music events, what are the Sunwaves team most excited about with the next edition of the festival?

For everyone in this industry, this past year has been so hard on so many levels – even coping with the lack of social life, after living and working in such a dynamic environment. So for us, the most exciting thing about SWZZ is the social interaction – being with people, seeing old friends, making new friends, chatting, dancing, sharing moments in a wonderful new place.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced when organizing a festival in Zanzibar?

The challenges come in the form of the ‘unknown’ as we are diving into new territories. But we are happy we are not alone, we are working with partners based in Zanzibar, we have the support of the authorities whom we work closely with, and we enjoy a great response from our community.

How would you describe Sunwaves Festival to someone that has never been?

Sunwaves is the festival you go to for music. It’s the place the time doesn’t matter, the sets go for countless hours, people are relaxed, and the details are in the visuals and other creative displays inside the festival.

The curated lineups for Sunwaves are always really special each year. Can you give us any insight into this year’s proposed lineup and stage layout?

This edition brings some of our signature artists, but new ones also. As SWZZ will have 2 stages, unlike the 4 stages Mamaia edition, each will display an overall particular style. One stage will highlight performances from Black Coffee, Loco Dice, Dubfire, and more, while the 2nd one, the trademark wooden stage, is where Ricardo Villalobos, Raresh, Petre Inspirescu, Rhadoo, Priku, Herodot, and others will play.

Sunwaves is renowned for unforgettable marathon sets from amazing artists, do you have any predictions for this year’s festival?

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The main idea at Sunwaves is that we don’t anticipate these moments, they just happen. It has always been something very natural to go with the flow and enjoy a set without even knowing how many hours have been. So we can’t make any predictions, we are excited to enjoy each set to its fullest.

Are there any new up-and-coming artists people should keep our eyes and ears for this year?

We believe each artist deserves the public’s full attention as you know the artists bring their A-game and there are sets from different artists that may surprise you. Our newcomers are Bila and G76, who both played the last Summer edition before the pandemic, SW26.

Are there any specific requirements for entry to Sunwaves this year, given the global pandemic situation?

As soon as we announced the festival, we advised the travellers to have a negative PCR test for Covid 19. Meanwhile, the authorities made this mandatory, and they will add an extra quick Covid test on the airport for all travellers so the whole scenery is restrictions-free. We will provide a fast Covid testing point inside the festival just to have more control and for people to have access to quick results.

Given the switch in location for this year’s festival, will there be a different vibe to expect – taking into account local culture and traditions?

Sunwaves will bring its original team, the minds that create the Mamaia editions, the regular artists, and a big number of friends, but we think the festival itself attracts a certain type of people. People who enjoy dancing freely in a friendly place, while their favourite DJ is playing. The festival will be a celebration of the local culture, the design itself will highlight Zanzibar’s authenticity, the details will only merge the whole SW vibe with the exotic setup. We specifically chose Dongwe Beach for its East Coast location, as we want to have the sunrise come from the sea just like we do in Romania.

Lastly, describe Sunwaves in three words and give us your golden festival tip?

It’s very hard to describe the whole festival and its concept in just three words, but I think the closest I can get is by listing: Rominimal, continuously, dancing. The golden festival tip is to stay hydrated and be friendly, you will attract only good people around. We love the sense of community we built over the years, so we want to highlight the importance that each individual contributes to the overall vibe, that’s why we want to share a positive attitude with everyone coming and enjoying the festival even for the 1st time.

Sunwaves Zanzibar takes place from 17th-21st June 2021.

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