WHATEVER FLOATS YOUR BOAT: The annual Up The Creek Festival gives music lovers the chance to enjoy the best talent that South Africa has to offer. Picture: Candice Chaplin

Cape Town - We are a few splashes away from this year’s Up The Creek Festival, an event of float fun and music from January 30 to February 2.

Set on the banks of the Breede River in Swellendam, it attracts crazy floats that revellers laze in while watching performers.

Although the festival began in 1991, the Anything that Floats competition began in 2010.

Up the Creek’s Caitlin Hanley said: “We have always had three types of entries. There’s Best Float, where one year we had a floating bar. There’s Most Romantic Float, which is often floating beds. Last year, a floating four-poster bed won. And there’s the Float with the Mostest, the float that can carry the most people.”

Last year, no one won this prize as no one’s float was big enough. In 2012, a float with 26 people on it won.

“We run the competition on the Saturday from 1pm. Everyone is on the river by then and entrants bring their floats forward while holding up their numbers,” said Hanley.

Last year’s stage had the appearance of floating, but it was tied down. Hanley said they hoped to do that again. The Breede River was full at the moment, but the level was unpredictable, so the “floating stage” was still an uncertainty.

Up the Creek is the smaller of the major Western Cape music festivals, taking in a more intimate 2 500 people. Hanley said there were usually 10 to 15 standout floats.

“Size makes it easier to judge. Make it colourful, too. Last year, we saw an island structure with thousands of floating animals.”

Clearly, the tip is to go big and colourful.

Hanley also suggested that floats should be easy to assemble at the campsite on the Friday afternoon of the festival. Don’t bring large pieces unless with a trailer.

A small festival it may be, but there is no compromise on musical talent. This year’s bill includes the Springbok Nude Girls, Gangs of Ballet, Jeremy Loops, Taxi Violence, Desmond & the Tutus and The Plastics.

A decent scoop is 22-year-old folk singer Matthew Mole, who hails from Fish Hoek. He made local music history this year by becoming the first local to top the South African iTunes chart in July for his debut album The Home We Built. A few months down the line, he got the Editor’s Choice Album of the Year nod in the Best of 2013 campaign.

Mole, who now lives in Joburg, has been touring the six-month-old album, doing gigs like Kirstenbosch with Just Music label counterparts Nakhane Toure and Tailor in December, and supporting Bastille at Emmarentia Dam last week.

Mole said that for the festival, his set would largely be from his album, but with two new songs he was working on.

Mole said he had not thought about taking a float and intended keeping his stay at Up the Creek simple. “I’ve played in Cape Town only two or three times since the album was released,” he said.

He said he liked the idea of a “wobbly” stage that could come from one suspended on water.

He was hoping to collaborate with Desmond & the Tutus on stage.

“I’m going to keep it simple for my set, with three people maximum on stage,” said Mole.

Looking towards the year ahead, he was most concerned about a trip to Los Angeles in April for a music conference where labels traded music samples.

He will be representing his label, Just Music, and making the trip with label owner Karl Anderson.

l Presale tickets for Up the Creek cost R650 for the full weekend and R500 for just Saturday and Sunday at plankton.mobi. See www.upthecreek.co.za or follow @Upthe_Creek on Twitter for more information. - Weekend Argus