In April of 2020, deep in the depths of the dark shadow that the COVID pandemic cast across the events industry worldwide, Beneath The Baobabs made the difficult decision to hibernate as a company until the worst of the storm had passed. With an ever-extending curfew in place in Kenya and a genuine concern for our community, there were certainly times when we didn’t know whether or not we would be able to host an event ever again.
16 months later and still no clear end in site, we decided to design a plan for BTB that would allow us to gain control, regenerate safely and allow the public to take advantage of the natural beauty of Kilifi after months of being trapped in cities under strict government regulations whilst being fed mass media hysteria.
With a model based on a concept of year-round festival culture, Beneath The Baobabs could once again become an oasis for alternative culture, healing and entertainment, offering an experience out of the pressures of everyday life.
So what does this look like now?
3 Festivals, A Restaurant, Accommodation and a Creative Space.
The first step was to start designing a space where we could host people each week in the heart of the Baobabs. The Twisted Fig, opposite the amazing Baobab Deck, is imagined as the new beating heart of BTB and now open weekly, as an offbeat restaurant and bar experience welcome to all for a romantic meal and some serious get down with live music and DJs regularly. Fully open since December, we now have an exciting young team and menu ready to welcome guests every week.
Once the bones of The Twisted Fig were installed by October 2021, we finally felt able to invite small groups back to the site, within Covid regulations, and KISIMA Festival was born! Initially a Wellness and Mindfulness area at our New Year Festival, we felt that Kisima had never been honored enough and that it deserved its own brand and event series in response to the backlash of COVID depression and isolation. The festival was an amazing way to welcome our community back. 100 practitioners and individuals hungry to learn and discuss about Spirituality, Philosophy, Physical and Mental Well Being, all came to the site from 6am until dusk for 4 days of transformative spirit and a great dance to close off the event.
With New Year as our major hotpoint of the year, we couldn’t stand the idea of not producing an event 2 years running. To keep the fire burning and to limit our capacity and risk, we came up with the concept of a reduced NY Festival: The New Year Revival. With a limited capacity of 1500 pax, only 2 stages and COVID Rapid Antigen Tests at the gate, we took a risk whilst curfew was still in place and launched the event. Selling out with 1 month to go and a line up strictly dedicated to local DJs, The New Year Revival went off! 2 Days of non-stop music and dance allowed us to feel like we were back in business and doing what we loved most.
Between The Baobabs with Kenyan Originals
After launching this monthly event series for the first time in early 2021, we were pumped to present series 2 of Between The Baobabs for 2022.
Our third festival in 7 months was soon launched in the wake of our New Year’s success: BTB Live
Our live music festival concept saw its inauguration with OGs Octopizzo and Blinky Bill backed by full live bands alongside 20 other acts. The event introduced a stage dedicated to local Mijikenda Music, introducing visitors to our local Swahili Culture Kilifi and displaying the new fusion taking place between producers and local acts. With only a small area of the ground being used, the event was much acclaimed and allowed us to display the 3rd pillar of our events calendar.
So what’s happening now?
We’re on break for all of August 2022, reopening for the last weekend of the month to kick off the season in style.
There are even plans for a recording Studio to be opened before the end of the year and in time for the re-emergence of our flagship NY event: Beneath The Baobabs Festival, bringing back 4 stages, over 60 artists and performers and over 3000 attendees celebrating alternative culture in Kilifi.
All of these elements have been difficult to achieve, but now allow Beneath The Baobabs to be in action like never before, and ready to receive you and your crew for one of our festivals or monthly events, for personal or group retreat, or just for a beer and meal at The Twisted Fig.
So feel free to come down and meet the family and don’t forget to bring some creative spirit with you!