We Chat to Michael Kennedy – The Visionary Behind This Year’s Most Exclusive NYE Getaway


If you’re looking to do something special this NYE and seek a wonderful balance between festival and vacation then Make-Believe presents ‘FULL Circle’ / 3-Day NYE Celebration is for you. This year-end festival is unlike anything else taking place in Cape Town. Not only is Make-Believe synonymous with bringing together a diverse age-group of party-goers and brilliantly curated lineups, but it’s also known for its choice of lush venues and spaces.

We decided to catch up with industry luminary and Make-Believe visionary Mike Kennedy to find out more about the ethos behind his gatherings and more on his exciting NYE concept.

MCBN: You’ve been in the game for a good few years now, honing your craft as a DJ, promoter and event organiser. How did this all start for you Mike – when and what inspired you to make this your life calling?

MIKE: I began as a DJ in the UK and felt we weren’t hearing the music we loved at the events we attended, so I bought a small sound-system and started arranging parties where such could be heard. Having previously studied for years in Graphic Design, I wouldn’t say at all that it was intended as a career path.

MCBN: Since starting your career in entertainment and events, what has been your most memorable event yet and what would you consider your greatest achievement to date?

MIKE: I will never forget being booked to Dj (at a trance festival named Zulu Warrior / 2003) on the main stage – as the only non-trance/non-CDJ DJ (playing break-beat on vinyl) – and after much initial resistance by the crowd, getting 3 tracks in and having converted a highly musically-religious dance-floor onto a new wave of sound. In terms of events, I cannot forget the energy at the ‘Make-Believe Train Party’ (featuring Fur Coat). Pinnacle of achievement: creating The SPIRIT Train and thereby meeting my soul-mate.

MCBN: A lot has changed in the festival scene over the last decade, what’s your take on all the current events taking place here in CT this season and what’s your advice for us more mature ravers when picking out events for our festival calendar?

MIKE: I think the landscape of anything in the creative sphere has changed with the age of the internet, and specifically social media. Gone are the days of personal self-discovery & professional intuition through experience. Modern times are all about connectivity, sharing and instant problem-solving at the touch of a button. And therein lies the rub. Writers are now competing against bloggers – which in modern times can be anybody. And the list goes on … I think to bring our saturated – yet amazing festival scene back to its roots is to educate the punter – not the promoter. He/she who buys the ticket holds the power, and purchasing power should be supported by a true understanding of the culture behind that which one plays a part.

MCBN: Tell us more about your brand Make-Believe, how and when did you bring it to life and what’s the ethos behind your gatherings?

MIKE: Make-Believe was essentially a re-branding (name) of the events I’d been hosting since London in 2000. What began as an effort to provide a platform for sound not found elsewhere, became an extension of that is also seeking out interesting locations – beyond just the club environment. And then of course to consider the overall guest experience, and try to elevate that from the conventional approach to planning such.

MCBN: Other than MB you are also part of the incredible creative team behind The SPIRIT Train. Tell us more about this project and it’s upcoming fundraiser next month.

MIKE: The SPIRIT Train project is a natural progression from those years in London, Durban and CT events (under Make-Believe guise). It is – for me at least – all the best parts about arranging an event: all the creative freedom minus the marketing & commercial aspect of a normal project.

After a healthy break from Afrikaburn 2018, we are super enthusiastic to bring LOBO back to life (Afrikaburn 2019) and this LOBOlives – Afterparty Fundraiser is going to be amazing! Everybody loves a street festival – and Afrikaburn’s ‘Streetopia Festival’ (Sat 01 Dec) is just that. The festival ends at 18h00 and we just know that LOBO can extend your day with an array of amazing DJs and varied music genres – by hosting an afterparty (from 16h00-00h30) within a stone’s throwing distance from the main street festival.

MCBN: Make-Believe has also become known for its bespoke lineups that focus on progressing with the day. Take us through the intention behind this and how you go about creating your musical agendas?

MIKE: It’s quite a simple approach. Understand how you would like the music to flow from start to finish … and then find the best DJs that can fill those genres/gaps. Or you can book the most popular DJs you know, and arrange them into some kind of order … but then you need to dig deep and ask yourself ‘why’ you do what you do?

MCBN: A lot more goes into your event other than a finely curated a lineup – as you say, you engineer experiences so for those who have never attended a Make-Believe event, what can they expect at this NYE’s gathering?

MIKE: From a conceptual point of view the focus is on energy, starting with the name. I think anything creative needs a story, a purpose, a direction. Even in attaching a name to something. Words are powerful and I’ve learnt that through experience. With ‘FULL CIRCLE NYE’ we are reminded of our orbit around the Sun (a circle), connections with friends, their friends and new friendships made (inner & outer circles) and finally – after a 2year break from the festival circuit – reminded of Make-Believe itself (having come full-circle) & a return to the landscape of music experiences. The presence of circular structures in the universe is abundant, and this concept will be followed through within the stage design and visual elements. One may expect an older (26-50), intimate crowd, a journey of sonic bliss and to leave with lucid memories that don’t fade.

MCBN: Make-Believe Presents Full Circle NYE will be limited to only 250 attendees this year – tell us more about the intimacy and exclusiveness of the event and why you have chosen to keep it small?

MIKE: NYE is a special time of year – one for conversing, connecting and reflecting. You cannot do any of the above at a large-scale party. Hopefully, we extend our inner circle a bit for next NYE too 🙂 Quality over quantity.

MCBN: What do you hope people experience and take away from your parties?

MIKE: A new experience & memories.

MCBN: Describe the venue for Make-Believe Presents Full Circle NYE in three words.

MIKE: Lush, Refreshing & Intimate

View the incredible layout for this December in more detail below. For more information on the festival, join the event page and visit Make-Believe’s official website. Tickets available right here

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