A feast of South African festivals: from SouthAfrica.info

A Feast of South African Festivals

Compiled by Mary Alexander on http://www.southafrica.info/travel/cultural/festivals.htm

Festivals, festivals, festivals … South Africa has a celebration for every event, place, art form, food, drink and agricultural commodity. There’s the Ficksburg Cherry Festival, the National Arts Festival, countless mud-and-dust music festivals, the Hermanus Whale Festival, the Lambert’s Bay Kreeffees and more.

Here’s a comprehensive month-by-month guide to some of South Africa’s best excuses for a party.


FNB Dance Umbrella FNB Dance Umbrella
Where: Johannesburg, Gauteng
Website: Artslink – FNB Dance Umbrella
A festival of contemporary choreography and dance, the FNB Dance Umbrella presents work ranging from community-based dance troupes to international companies. 1988. It’s launched many South African choreographers into international dance, including Vincent Mantsoe, Robyn Orlin and Boyzie Cekwana.

Up the Creek
Where: Up the Creek campsite, Breede River, near Swellendam
Website: Up the Creek
The Up the Creek campsite is situated on the banks of the Breede River and during the four-day festival offers three stages: the main stage, the river stage and the all-night-long Breede River bar stage. Visitors can frolic in the river during the day and then move up to main stage as the day progresses. Only one stage will be running at a time, so there is no need to miss any of the more than 30 acts on offer.

Nelson Mandela Bay Prickly Pear Festival
Where: Uitenhage, Nelson Mandela Bay, Eastern Cape
Website: Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism
The Prickly Pear Festival held in late February or early March every at Cuyler Hofstede farm near Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape’s Nelson Mandela Bay. It’s a day of traditional food such as ginger beer, pancakes, potjiekos, home-made jam, a spit braai and fish braai, bunnychow and home-made pudding.


Cape Town Jazz Festival Cape Town International Jazz Festival
Where: Cape Town, Western Cape
Website: Cape Town International Jazz Festival
Cape Town International Jazz is a two-day festival featuring some 40 international and African acts performing on five stages to an audience of 15 000. It also features photographic and art exhibitions.

Lambert's Bay Kreeffees Lambert’s Bay Kreeffees
Where: Lambert’s Bay, West Coast, Western Cape
Website: Kreeffees
Kreef is Afrikaans for crayfish, and a fees can be both festival and feast. At the Kreeffees, held every March in the West Coast town of Lambert’s Bay, you’ll feast on fresh crayfish and get festive at rock concerts by some of South Africa’s favourite musicians. There’s also bungee jumping, aerial displays, a half-marathon, beer tents and more.

Oppikoppi Oppikoppi Easter Festival
Where: Northam, North West
Website: Oppikoppi
Smaller than the Oppikoppi bushveld bash in August, the Oppikoppi Easter Festival, held over the Easter holidays, has one stage only and draws a traditional blues-and-folk crowd of roughly 1 500 people.

Dullstroom Tonteldoos Peach Festival
Where: Tonteldoos, Mpumalanga
Website: Dullstroom
Email: tonteldoos.conservancy@icon.co.za
The Tonteldoos Peach Festival happens in late March or early April in the village of Tonteldoos, some 20km northwest of Dullstroom and two hours from Johannesburg. It offers peaches and pretty much everything that can be made from the fruit, including peach mampoer.

Scifest Africa Sasol Scifest
Where: Grahamstown, Eastern Cape
Website: Scifest Africa
SciFest Africa, or the National Festival of Science, Engineering and Technology, is held in late March in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape. Over seven days it features some 600 events: lectures, game drives, a laser show, workshops, sunset shows, robotics competitions, science olympics, school quizzes, interactive exhibitions, the PlayFair, field trips, talkshops and a film festival. Attendance now exceeds 35 000 visitors every year.


Klein Karoo Nationale Kunstefees Klein Karoo Nationale Kunstefees
Where: Oudtshoorn, Western Cape
Website: Klein Karoo Nationale Kunstefees
The Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees in Oudtshoorn features well-known and young up-and-coming artists in dance and theatre. Started as an Afrikaans alternative to the mainly English National Arts Festival, KKNK has 200 different shows on three different stages.

Afrika Burns
Where: The Karoo
Website: Afrika Burns
Afrika Burn is based on The Burning Man festival which grew out of a loose grouping of individuals and organisations who questioned, and continue to question mainstream, highly commercialised society and what it does to the notion and workings of community. Burning Man’s mission statement says: “Our intention is to generate society that connects each individual to his or her creative powers, to participation in community, to the larger realm of civic life, and to the even greater world of nature that exists beyond society”. In a nutshell, it’s about radical self-expression.

Splashy Fen Splashy Fen
Where: Underberg, KwaZulu-Natal
Website: Splashy Fen
Every year the Splashy Fen music festival attracts thousands of people to a farm near Underberg in KwaZulu-Natal for a feast of mainstream and alternative rock and pop. The site has electricity, telephones, ablutions, market stalls, three stages, and medical and security personnel. There are great bed-and-breakfasts in nearby towns for those who believe music festivals can be enjoyed without mud.

Splashy Fen The wet Underberg climate guarantees lots of mud – and splashing – at Splashy Fen. (Photo: Splashy Fen)

Tulbagh Goes Dutch Tulbagh Goes Dutch
Where: Tulbagh, Western Cape
Website: Tulbagh
Tulbagh Tourism describes its two-day Dutch Festival as “a Gezellig Feestje for the whole family”. In April the town’s Church Street with its beautiful Cape Dutch architecture hosts cultural activities, appetising spijs en drank temptations and authentic treasures. It includes a traditional Dutch beer garden and a tulip exhibition at the Volksmuseum.

Philippolis Witblits Festival Philippolis Witblits Festival
Where: Philippolis, Free State
Website: Philippolis Witblits Festival
The Philippolis Witblits Festival, held in early April, will give you a taste of a proud local tradition – witblits (Afrikaans for “white lightning”) is South African moonshine. Held in the oldest town in the Free State, the festival has boeresport (literally “farmers sport”) for the kids, food, drink and more witblits.

Prince Albert Town and Olive Wine Festival Prince Albert Town and Olive Festival
Where: Prince Albert, Western Cape
Website: Prince Albert
The Prince Albert Town and Olive Festival, held in the Swartberg region of the Western Cape in April, offers a whole lot more than just the region’s famous olives and wine. There’s an art exhibition, beer tents, live music, witblits tastings, crafts for kids, historic tours, a cycle race, an olive pip-spitting competition, culinary demonstrations, a midnight ghost walk, stalls, cabaret, a dance and more.


Pink Loerie Mardi Gras Pink Loerie Mardi Gras
Where: Knysna, Western Cape
Website: Pink Loerie Mardi Gras
The Knysna loerie is a green bird, but the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras is different. A gay festival held in the beautiful coastal town of Knysna in May, the Mardi Gras offers four days of non-stop entertainment for anyone who enjoys a party.

On parade at the Pink Loerie  Mardi Gras On parade at the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras. (Photo: Pink Loerie Mardi Gras)

Riebeek Valley Riebeek Kasteel Olive Festival
Where: Riebeek Kasteel, Western Cape
Website: Riebeek Valley
The Riebeek Kasteel Olive Festival takes place in the Swartland area of the Western Cape in May. A feast of wine and the best olives in SA, the festival also has an art competition, live entertainment, stalls and lots of food.


National Arts Festival National Arts Festival
Where: Grahamstown, Eastern Cape
Website: National Arts Festival
The Grahamstown National Arts Festival, held in late June or early July every year, is South Africa’s oldest, biggest and best-known arts festival. The 10-day event offers culture hounds every indulgence of theatre, music, song, dance, film and a whole lot more. If there’s one South African festival you have to attend, this is it.


Knysna Oyster Festival Knysna Oyster Festival
Where: Knysna, Western Cape
Website: Knysna Oyster Festival
The coastal town of Knysna is famous for its oysters, and increasingly famous for the July festival that celebrates them. In addition to oyster braais, oyster tasting, oyster-eating competitions and other molluscular activities, there’s live entertainment and lots of sporting events.

Lephalele (Ellisras) Ellisras Bushveld Festival
Where: Lephalele (Ellisras), Limpopo
Website: www.lephalale.com
Email: p4p@telkomsa.net
The Ellisras Bushveld Festival takes place in early July in the heart of the bushveld, in the Waterberg district of Limpopo. The festival includes cattle shows, a game auction, horse jumping, dog shows, agricultural activities, a three-day battle for the best 4×4 competition, a game farms expo, hunting opportunities, bird- and tree-identification competitions, traditional food, a beer tent and huge camp fires.

SA Port Producers Association Calitzdorp Port Festival
Where: Calitzdorp, Western Cape
Website: www.sappa.co.za
The Klein Karoo town of Calitzdorp is the port-wine capital of South Africa. Its annual port festival, held over a weekend in July, showcases the top 15 South African port makers. There’s a blind port tasting judged by SA’s top wine critics, a potjiekos competition and ostrich farm tours, as well as the annual South African boules championships.

Madame Zingara's Love Magic Tour Madame Zingara’s
Love Magic Tour

Where: Cape Town, Western Cape
Website: Madame Zingara’s
Sumptuous Cape Town restaurant Madame Zingara has for over 35 years worked with the non-profit charity organisation Ikamva Labantu in aid of children. During 2010 Madame Zingara presents the Love Magic Tour, which includes creating a shanty town with break away bars, live entertainment and all the trimmings. From each ticket sold 5% will again be given to Ikamvu Labantu and an optional grounds fee will be added to each ticket sold. The aim at the end of the run is to be able to donate a multi purpose community centre with medical, educational and social facilities.


OppikoppiOppikoppi Bushveld Festival
Where: Northam, North West
Website: Oppikoppi
Held on the bushveld farm of Oppikoppi (“op die koppie” in Afrikaans, or “on the hill”), this festival offers three permanent thatched stages, a smaller comedy stage and a stage for more chilled music at the top of the koppie. Oppikoppi has helped establish many South African musicians’ careers, but it’s not for the faint-hearted. This is real bushveld: hot and dry, and everywhere red dust and thorn trees. Expect to shower a lot when you get home. (Oppikoppi also hosts an Easter Festival in March.)

Oppikoppi Bushveld Festival The Oppikoppi Bushveld Festival is not for the faint-hearted … (Photo: Oppikoppi)

Standard Bank Joy of JazzStandard Bank Joy of Jazz
Where: Johannesburg, Gauteng
Website: Standard Bank Joy of Jazz
Johannesburg’s biggest annual jazz festival is an ideal family outing, featuring a range of musical styles but with a strong emphasis on jazz. Over 200 local and international artists perform at different venues across the city, particularly in Newtown.

Hantam Vleisfees Hantam Vleisfees
Where: Calvinia, Northern Cape
Website: Hantam Vleisfees
Calvinia in the Northern Cape is sheep country, and this festival celebrates meat. There’s meat braaied, stewed, curried, in pita, on sosaties, in potjies – you can even pick up a done-to-perfection sheep’s head for a mere R30. First held in 1989, the three-day Hantam Vleisfees has a music concert, street party, vintage car rally and, a highlight for many, the Miss Vleisfees competition – a glittering affair with dinner and dancing.

Hantam Vleisfees Calvinia in the Northern Cape is sheep country, and the Hantam Vleisfees celebrates meat. (Photo: Hantam Vleisfees)

Cellar Rats Wine Festival Cellar Rats Wine Festival
Where: Magaliesberg, Gauteng
Website: Cellar Rats Wine Festival
Taste South Africa’s best wines in a tranquil outdoor setting in Magaliesberg. Held every year in August, the Cellar Rats Wine Festival is a day of wine tasting, with picnic baskets for sale and many activities for the kids. Enjoy huge shady trees, lush green grass and an abundance of birdlife on the banks of the picturesque Magalies River. Designated drivers get in for free.


Arts Alive Arts Alive
Where: Johannesburg, Gauteng
Website: Arts Alive
Arts Alive, held every September since 1992, features a heady mix of dance, visual art, poetry and music at venues in the Joburg inner city. The main concert, held at the Johannesburg Stadium, headlines international superstars such as 50 Cent and Busta Rhymes. Over 600 artists perform during the four-day festival, with most shows at various venues in Newtown. The ever-popular Jazz on the Lake is held on the final day.

Aardklop Arts Festival Aardklop Arts Festival
Where: Potchefstroom, Free State
Website: Aardklop Arts Festival
Aardklop Arts Festival offers a feast of arts and an all-round good jol for five days in late September and early October. First held in 1998, Aardklop – Afrikaans roughly translated as “earth beat” – has over 90 productions, with classical music, jazz, hard rock, cabaret, visual arts, theatre, circus performances, opera, African and World music, poetry and more, ending with the OppiAarde rock festival on the final day.

Woodstock Music Festival Woodstock
Where: Hartbeeshoek, North West
Website: Woodstock
Woodstock, first held in 1999, is the largest youth-oriented music and lifestyle festival in South Africa. In addition to mainstream music, the festival offers a market of crafters and alternative lifestyle products over four days. It is held at Hartbeeshoek Holiday resort near Hartbeespoort Dam in North West.

Boertjie Kontreifees
Where: Bultfontein, Free State
Website: Boertjie Kontreifees
The Boertjie Kontreifees is an agricultural festival, featuring 340 stalls, which draws about 20 000 people over four days. It includes lots plenty of sport too, including rugby, netball, football, wrestling, jogging, cycling, motorcycling, 4x4s and quadbiking. There is plenty to eat and drink, lots of competitions, and many entertainers. It being an agricultural festival, you can expect to find horses, cattle, sheep, buck, greyhounds, tractors, and cars as well.

Gariep Kunstefees Gariep Kunstefees
Where: Kimberley, Northern Cape
Website: Gariep Kunstefees
Now in its sixth year, the Gariep Kunstefees (arts festival) has an impressive line-up of local musicians, a film festival showcasing South Africa’s new film-makers, as well as art exhibitions and children’s theatre.

Hermanus Whale Festival Hermanus Whale Festival
Where: Hermanus, Western Cape
Website: Hermanus Whale Festival
Every year, southern right whales travel thousands of miles to the Cape south coast to mate and calve in the bays. Join the villagers of Hermanus for an entertainment-packed festival, in the town with the best land-based whale watching in the world.

Awesome Africa Music Festival Awesome Africa Music Festival
Where: Durban, KwaZulu-Natal
Website: Awesome Africa Music Festival
The Standard Bank Awesome Africa Music Festival, first held in 1999, takes place in Durban’s Albert Park. It has three stages of non-stop music, with over 200 artists from more than 20 countries. The focus is on collaboration with musicians from Africa and beyond.

Knysna Gastronomica Knysna Gastronomica
Where: Knysna, Western Cape
Website: Knysna Gastronomica
A new addition to South Africa’s festival circuit, the Knysna Gastronomica is a celebration of good food, wine and culture in the coastal town of Knysna.

Prince Albert Agricultural Show
Where: Prince Albert, Western Cape
Website: Prince Alfred
Join the people of Prince Albert as they celebrate their agricultural heritage in September. The show offers homecrafts, art and flowers, horses on show, motorbike obstacle route, sheep and angora goat competitions, local products, delicious food, bar facilities and entertainment for young and old. The farm breakfast and steak braai are a must.

Macufe Macufe
Where: Bloemfontein, Free State
Website: Macufe
Macufe, the 10-day Mangaung African Cultural Festival, showcases the cream of African and international talent. It features jazz, gospel, kwaito, hip-hop, R&B, rock and classical music, as well as dance, drama, cabaret, musical theatre, poetry, fine art and traditional arts and crafts. First held in 1997 before an audience of 30 000, Macufe now attracts over 140 000 people from South Africa, Africa and the world. The festival is presented in late September and early October by the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State.

White Mountain Festival White Mountain Festival
Where: Estcourt, KwaZulu-Natal
Website: White Mountain Festival
The White Mountain Folk Festival in the Central Drakensberg mountain range offers great music in an awesome setting for three days in September. Featuring acoustic performances by some of the South Africa’s top folk musicians, the festival is held at White Mountain Lodge in the foothills of the Giant’s Castle Nature Reserve. Camping in a beautiful site at the edge of a dam is free, with brand new hot shower units at the ready plus lots of “executive” loos. There’s also a variety of food stalls, and a beer market offering naturally brewed local ales and lagers.

Vrede Paddadors Fees Vrede Paddadors Fees
Where: Vrede, Free State
Website: Vrede Paddadors Fees
The full name of Paddadors, the Free State town of Vrede’s annual festival, is the Vrede Paddadors Rooivleis en Kultuurfees – which translates literally as the Peace Frog-Thirst Red-Meat and Culture Festival. The story goes that the dry land on which the town was established was originally called Paddadors (“frog thirst” in Afrikaans), until peace came and place was named Vrede. The festival offers live music, traditional food, a beer garden, children’s activities and more.


Herman Charles Bosman Weekend Herman Charles Bosman Weekend
Where: Groot Marico, North West
Website: Herman Charles Bosman Weekend
Herman Charles Bosman was one of South Africa’s greatest writers, and this weekend festival celebrates his work in dry town of Groot Marico, the setting for many of his stories. Some of South Africa’s top actors read from and perform Bosman’s work; there’s also good food, good company – and lots of mampoer.

Rocking the Daisies Music and Lifestyle Festival
Where: Cloof Wine Estate, Darling, Cape West Coast
Website: Rocking the Daisies
The Rocking the Daisies Music and Lifestyle Festival features top South African bands performing a wide variety of music, as well as comedy, burlesque dancing, acoustic jams, and giant African puppeteering. The Food Village looks after the stomach and the Traders Market offers exciting goodies. Swimming can be undertaken in the Dam, overseen by the Llandudno Lifesaving Club. Cloof Wine Estate offers wine tasting, while children are catered for at the Kids Playground. The Daisy Den and Art Field are other attractions and ATMs are available.


Ficksburg Cherry Festival Ficksburg Cherry Festival
Where: Ficksburg, Free State
Website: Ficksburg Cherry Festival
One of the oldest festivals in South Africa – first held in 1969 – the Ficksburg Cherry Festival now attracts around 20 000 visitors to this small eastern Free State town every November. The scenery is magnificent, and the festival offers cherry and asparagus tastings, tours, picnics, music, and the Miss Cherry Blossom and Miss Cherry Pip competitions.


Rustlers  Valley Rustler’s Valley New Year’s Gathering
Where: Fouriesburg, Free State
Website: Rustler’s Valley New Year’s Gathering
Rustler’s Valley in the eastern Free State hosts some of its best trance, dance and drumming festivals in late November and December, including a New Year celebration. It also offers the African Sweat Hut, permaculture design courses, a game reserve, the Saucery Restaurant and Marimba House. The majestic scenery

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