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All the ingredients for a perfect Saturday night
On Saturday evenings from 9 January to 27 February the return of Rhythm of Africa nights offer an opportunity to combine a visit to Werribee Open Range Zoo and its animals with an afternoon-to-evening of live African music, food and kids activities in the African Village. It's great fun for all the family.
While you can certainly go along just for the music and activities, we like to get there a little earlier and allow plenty of time for taking the safari tour around the zoo and wandering round the other animal exhibits such as the lions and hippopotami before settling down on the lawns in the African Village with a picnic. The music starts at 4.30pm and runs through to 8.30pm so it's a pretty kid friendly activity allowing for reasonable bedtimes for kids (and perhaps even for tired parents). There are special performances for the kids as well as face-painting, hair-braiding and drumming workshops.
The bands this year feature contemporary and traditional African music including Akoma Beat and the African Royal Drummers, Congolese dance hall music from King Bell and Soukous Ba Congo and contemporary African funk with Afro Mandiko and Lamine Sonko and the African Intelligence.
You can bring your own picnic and blanket or purchase some African inspired food and drink in the village throughout the evening. Alternatively you can grab something to eat and drink from the Zoo's cafes within their operating hours, see here for the range and availability.
This would have to be one of the most family-friendly Saturday night activities available in Melbourne. Having been many times I've found it to be a really relaxed atmosphere and we usually do a combination of bringing our own food as well as sampling some of the African dishes. The music is joyous, magnetic and always, always draws the crowd up to dance. It's been a total hit with everyone that's come along with us, particularly with the kids who love seeing all the animals and get really engaged with the dancing, drumming and face-painting.
Rhythm of Africa is included in the general zoo admission price and is an all weather event. Note that children under 16 receive free entry to Werribee Open Range Zoo on weekends, school holidays and public holidays
For full details of Rhythm of Africa nights see the Zoo's website.