Annual Events, Western Cape, South Africa

JANUARY

Cape Minstrels Street Carnival, Cape Town

The Cape Minstrel Carnival or Kaapse Klopse is Cape Town’s longest-running street party – and the festivities last for the entire month of January.  The event, known as Tweede Nuwe Jaar (second New Year), is when minstrels from the colored community dance through the city centre singing traditional songs and playing banjos.  The event was originally known as the Kaapse Klopse and originated in the 1800s when Malay slaves celebrated the one and only day in the year that they had off work.

J&B Metropolitan Stakes (Horse-racing), Cape Town

Thousands of racing enthusiasts, fashionistas and high society members gather for this annual event.  For more than a quarter century the J&B Metropolitan Stakes has been run at the Kenilworth Racecourse, an historic track that has been in use since 1883.  In addition to the race itself, the event features plenty of other entertainment such as acrobats, mimes and a fashion show for the most elegant couple.   Not everyone is dressed to the nines, but the general tone of this stylish event is one of glamour and sophistication.

FEBRUARY

Up the Creek (Music Festival)

One river, three stages, more than 30 live music and comedy acts and 2000 festival goers with a passion for some of South Africa’s best music in common.  Set on the banks of the Breede River, Up the Creek features a mix of the finest home-grown musicians, some old favorites, shining newbies and a sprinkling of comedians in between the usual buskers & other surprises.

MARCH

Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour, Cape Town

The world’s largest individually timed cycle race – and the first event outside Europe to be included in the International Cycling Union’s Golden Bike Series – sees over 35 000 cyclists tackling a 109km route around Cape Town that is as spectacular as it is grueling.

Cape Town International Jazz Festival

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival is a highly acclaimed musical event on the city’s annual calendar.  The popular music event draws talented artists from near and far, as well as thousands of Jazz enthusiasts from SA and abroad.

APRIL

National Cheese Festival, Cape Town

The gourmet event brings together food artisans and cheese makers from across South Africa to showcase a world of tastes.  This popular Cape Winelands festival will be enjoyed by cheese-lovers and foodies alike.

Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon (road running), Cape Town

The Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon has earned a reputation as the world’s most beautiful marathon.  The first race was held in 1970 and saw 26 runners line up to face the unknown challenge.  Since then, the race has become a national institution and a firm favorite with local, upcountry, and international athletes.

Nederburg Wine Auction, Paarl

The Nederburg Auction is rated one of the top four wine auctions internationally.  The wines Nederburg offers on auction are available exclusively through this channel and are labeled as Private Bin, setting them apart from its other wines.  The event also remains a must-attend social occasion on the South African wine calendar and every year thousands of rands are raised in aid of the Nederburg Charity Trust.

Klein Karoo Arts Festival, Oudtshoorn

The Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK) was established in 1995.  The arts and activities supporting the arts are the KKNK’s core business—its goal is to promote, encourage or preserve the arts, culture or customs mainly by means of Afrikaans.  The mammoth week-long festival features a range of pop, rock, cabaret, classical music, drama and dance.  There are a range of fringe theatre productions in English, although the majority of the larger productions are in Afrikaans.

MAY

MasterCard Cape Gourmet Food Festival, Cape Town

This two week festival of fine food, wine and entertainment takes place in various venues, in and around Cape Town.   The Good Food and Wine Show at the Good Hope Centre is a comprehensive taste showcase featuring top international chefs, local food personalities and wine experts.  During Restaurant Week, many of the city’s top restaurants serve delicious 2-course luncheons at reduced prices, while fine dining hotels present innovative four- and five-course gourmet dinners.  A culinary extravaganza featuring something for everyone’s palate.

Cape Town Waterfront Wine Festival

The Cape Times V&A Waterfront Wine Festival is a must for all wine-lovers.   Visitors can taste over 300 wines from over 75 of the Cape’s top wineries. Guests can indulge in a multitude of interesting food and wine combinations and enjoy a large selection of cheese and gourmet treats from sushi to pesto to chocolate.

The Pink Loerie Mardi Gras, Knysna

Four days of parties, exhibitions and performing arts, expect glitz, glamour and feathers.  Founded in 2000, its arrival heralded a step forward for gay visibility in South Africa.

JUNE

Kirstenbosch Winter Music Concerts, Cape Town

Relax with a glass of fine Cape wine and enjoy the friendly atmosphere as you watch Cape Town’s top musical talent in one of the most beautiful settings that the Mother City has to offer.  The winter concerts take place in the lovely Silvertree Restaurant, a cozy setting in the colder months. But make sure you come a little early and take a stroll through the gardens to take in the breathtaking setting.

Whale spotting (June November), Hermanus

Hermanus is one of the finest places for South African whale watching.  It is home of the Southern Right Whale which is named as such because it was considered to be the ‘right’ whale to catch.  Whether it is the calm waters or their well-documented curiosity that brings them closer in, whales often come within a few meters of the shore.

JULY

Knysna Oyster Festival, Knysna

Knysna Oyster Festival is one of South Africa’s most popular festivals with huge appeal for sports lovers, families and those in search of a great party.  The festival’s two main sporting events, the Pick n Pay Cape Times Knysna Forest Marathon and the Pick n Pay Weekend Argus Rotary Knysna Cycle Tour, will give participants the unique opportunity to run and cycle through the ancient indigenous forests of Knysna and experience the scenic beauty of the area.  And if marathons are not your style, there’s a full program of adventure and soft sports for the whole family to participate in, including paddling, golf, bowls, soccer, night biking and angling.  Oyster-related events include the annual oyster-shucking (opening) competition, the ever-popular oyster eating competition and the Pick n Pay Oyster & Wine Mardi Gras – a fabulous evening of oysters and wine tasting.

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Just outside of Cape Town, Stellenbosch is a town abundant with vineyards, where world-class wines are passionately produced.  This festival gives visitors the opportunity to sample fine wines and gourmet cuisine, whilst exploring the town itself.  Guests will also be able to watch cooking competitions, where professional chefs prove their culinary worth; and can meet the winemakers behind renowned varietals.

Franschhoek Bastille Festival

Bastille Day is a French National Holiday celebrated on 14 July each year.  It commemorates the 1790 Fête de la Fédération, held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, which was seen as a symbol of the uprising of the modern French “nation”, and of the reconciliation of all the French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic, during the French Revolution.  Every year on the weekend closest to this day, the village of Franschhoek celebrates its French Huguenot past.  The Huguenots settled in the valley in the 1600’s and bought along with them many of their traditions, such as wine making.  The Bastille Festival offers a number of gourmet delights, wine tasting, bolus competitions, as well as the annual fly-fishing competition.  It is a great time to be in the valley, where wonderful food and drink abounds.

Berg River Canoe Marathon

The four day Berg River Canoe Marathon, started in 1961, it is the main event on the WCCU racing calendar and covers a distance of over 250km, from Paarl, all the way to Velddrif.  This race is not for the faint hearted, as it is the hardest and longest canoe race in South Africa. Calitzdorp Port Wine Festival Calitzdorp is a small town in the heart of the Klein Karoo, but for one weekend every year, it’s buzzing, moving and drinking port.  All the top port producers attend this yearly festival and the SAPPA (South African Port Producers Association) annual general meeting is also held there.  Activities include; cycling, a half-marathon, SA Boulle tournament, a street parade, local arts and crafts stalls and a formal Port tasting.

AUGUST

Cape Town Fashion Week

Nokia Cape Town Fashion Week, Africa’s largest gathering of fashion talent, has grown into one of the premiere “new world” fashion weeks providing an international platform for designers from across sub-Saharan Africa.  The event celebrates new creative spirit across the continent and has the theme New World Africa: meaning both the redefining of the continent locally and internationally and a celebration of the opportunities of 21st Century Africa.

Clanwilliam Wild Flower Show

The annual ten-day Wild Flower Show is presented by the Clanwilliam Wild Flower Association in the Old Dutch Reformed Church.  It starts at the end of August and ends first week in September.  At the end of winter, the Flower Church becomes a hive of activity.  Volunteers happily create a manmade landscape inside the church; a kaleidoscope from nature made accessible to everybody.  This flower fête includes concerts, art and food stalls, and a street carnival.  A special botanical division displays all the flowers on show with their botanical, as well as their common names.  It is alleged that the greatest variety of wild flowers in one district in the world happen to make their appearance in the area around Clanwilliam.

Oppikoppi, Worcester

OppiKoppi is one of the best and most renowned South African Rock festivals around.  Enjoy, relax and have fun for three days full of great music, cold beer and good vibes.  OppiKoppi will be sure to bring with it an unrivalled array of fresh and experienced acts from South Africa and abroad.

SEPTEMBER

Whale Festival/Food & Wine Festival/ Wild Flowers, Hermanus

The Hermanus Whale Festival, the only Enviro-Arts festival in South Africa, is held annually to celebrate the return of the Southern Right whales to the waters of Walker Bay, the magnificent environment and the arrival of Spring.  Visitors flock to the seaside resort to exhilarate in the unique natural environment, watch whales, join in the world’s only Welcome Whales Wave and revel in music, comedy, cabaret and African rhythms every night during the Festival.

Nederburg Arts Festival, Knysna

The 10-day Nederburg Arts Festival celebrates the beautiful natural environment of Knysna with various eco-outings, demonstrations of flower arranging and floral art and, as well as offering good food and wine.

Stellenbosch Festival

The annual Stellenbosch Festival is dominated by classical music, but it also includes more light-hearted weekend street festivals, as well as whacky street theatre.  If you are less of a music enthusiast, there is always the fantastic wine to taste.

Tulbagh Horse & Wildflower Show

The South African National Horse Championships are held annually and the highlight of the show is the wild flower exhibition, where flowers are displayed as they would appear in their natural state.  Various exhibitions, art and craft stalls and a wine and beer garden and entertainment for the whole family will be welcoming you in Tulbagh.

OCTOBER

Season of Sauvignon, Durbanville, Cape Town

Durbanville Wine Valley will once again throw open their farms to enthusiasts of the good life.  This Season promises to be a feast for the senses with activities ranging from vineyard walks and cellar tours, picnics, arts, crafts, music and special lunches and dinners. Participating Farms include Altydgedacht, Bloemendal, D’Aria, De Grendel, De Vallei, Diemersdal, Durbanville Hills, Hillcrest, Klein Roosboom, Meerendal and Nitída.

Cape Outdoor Adventure & Travel Expo

The venue in the Cape Winelands, just 25 minutes out of town, and 18 km from both Paarl and Franschhoek – Bien Donne, provides the perfect setting for the Cape Outdoor Adventure & Travel Expo.

Riebeek Valley Shiraz and Art Weekend

The Riebeek Valley is known as “Shiraz Country” so come and celebrate fabulous wines and wonderful art exhibitions in the restaurants, cellars, shops and galleries.  Delicious Shiraz inspired menus will be served in all the eateries.  It’s also the perfect opportunity to discover the wines and cellars of the Swartland Wine Route.  Every year the Riebeek Valley celebrates its Shiraz heritage and showcases its wonderful local artists.  Come join in the cultural feast for all senses.

Caledon Beer Festival

The Caledon Beer Fest is organised by The Caledon Casino, Hotel & Spa in association with the Theewaterskloof Municipality and South African Breweries. Cold beer, good food, and family fun.  Revelers can look forward to a variety of activities and entertainment, the program comes packed with performances by live bands and popular local artists.  While mom and dad swing to the sounds, there’s a lot to keep the little ones happy, including jumping castles, face painting and a movie-and play station room.

NOVEMBER

The FNB Whisky Live Festival

Whisky-Lovers, whether connoisseurs or occasional sippers of a dram or two, are looking forward to this annual festival, held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.  Introduced five years ago, the festival has quickly become the largest consumer whisky show in the world.  There is an international trend, with whisky festivals being held in London, Paris, New York, Belgium and Tokyo.  South Africa, however, is leading the way, with the Whisky Live Festival being the worlds largest consumer show. Festival visitors have 15 one hour whisky tasting workshops from which to choose.  Hosted by international master distillers, global brand ambassadors, and whisky experts, there’s a chance to taste whiskies not available in the main tasting hail or possibly South Africa.

Wines 2 Whales Mountain Bike Race, Helderberg

The Wines2Whales mountain bike race is a course of 3 days where teams of 2 cyclists will cover a distance of approximately 230km of the Western Cape’s most beautiful terrain, the Cape Winelands.  The race starts in Somerset West and will traverse across 13 wineries, 26 private farms, six mountains, some beautiful historic roads and passes, as well as exquisite nature conservation areas before finishing near Walker Bay in the picturesque town of Hermanus.  In Hermanus there will be entertainment for the whole family as well as vantage points along the route race that is accessible to the general public.

Discovery Cape Times Big Walk

It all started on 5 June 1903 when the Spartan Harriers committee decided it was time to organize a long distance walk and benchmarked its success with the popularity of walking races in the United Kingdom.  Spartan Harriers wanted to be the pioneers of such a race in the South Peninsula and planned for the route to kick off from Montagu Bridge to Somerset West and back.  The route was however changed and on a very rainy 13 August 1903, a grand total of 61 competitors set off from Greenmarket Square in Cape Town, becoming part of South African history.  Spartans have been involved in the Discovery Cape Times Big Walk for over a century.  Currently the Discovery Cape Times Big Walk consists of 10 different routes starting at different points in the Cape Peninsula with all paths leading to Rhodes High School in Mowbray.  The routes consist of timed 80km, 50km, 30km, 25km and 20km and untimed 13km, 12km, 11km, 10km and 5km. Whether you are an old hand at this event or a novice competitor, encourage your friends, families and loved ones to join you for this momentous occasion and be part of the oldest walk in the world.  This is not just a day of fun and camaraderie but also an opportunity to give to those who are in need.  This charity driven event gives back to the community each year by donating proceeds to selected charity.

DECEMBER

Festival of Chariots, Cape Town

A cultural extravaganza, the Festival of Chariots offers you the opportunity to explore and appreciate a culture and lifestyle that is friendly to oneself, others and the environment.  It makes for a fun day out for the whole family.  The parade is the highlight of the festival, hundreds of festival-goers will hand pull the 20-metre, colorful wooden chariot bearing the figures of Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra down the streets of Sea Point.  The procession is accompanied by melodious singing and dancing.  The traditional Jagannath Festival of Chariots is a celebration over 5000 years old, observed in the ancient holy city of Jagannath Puri in India, making it the oldest street festival in the world.

Crayfish & Seafood Festival, Paternoster

This annual festival includes snoek braai’s, seafood poitjie kos and of course delicious crayfish.  The day’s focus is on seafood, however there will be a beer garden as well as arts and craft stalls with sea shells and ornaments.  Once you have your ticket in hand and are standing at the entrance gate you will be welcomed with a glass of wine and directed to a boat where you will have a selection of Crayfish to choose from.  When you have your chosen one it will be cooked or thrown on the coals for a Lekker Braai and your glass of wine will be topped up while you wait.  One of the fisherman can also take you out on his boat and if you are lucky you will catch a glimpse of the seals & penguins.  Many competitions will be happening throughout the day, such as the biggest catch of the day and the best crayfish potjie.

OBZ Festival, Cape Town

The largest street festival of its kind in Southern Africa, the annual OBZfestival kicks off on the first weekend in December, bringing a celebratory mood to the cultural heart of the Mother City.  Taking place from Friday evening until Sunday evening, the festival remains a highlight of Cape Town’s cultural calendar.  Festival goers can expect to see the city’s top musicians in action, the best of Obz nightlife, a documentary film festival, art installations, and exciting playgrounds for the kids, an extensive craft market, as well as the Lazy Sunday concert aimed at jazz lovers.

Community Chest Twilight Team Run, Cape Town

20 000 participants crawl, walk or run in teams of six, some dressed in the wackiest costumes, through the streets of the Mother City followed by a party that rocks the city. MCQP, Cape Town Mother City Queer Projects is a Queer Art Party Project.  Each year the main event is a huge costume party.  A new theme is chosen for The Big Night each year.  The theme guides the creative team, artists, and partygoers, in their conceptualization and creativity.  Partygoers (and their costumes), artists and volunteers are the core strength of this uniquely Cape Town Project.  The party is filled with hundreds of beautiful people (this is Cape Town after all,) a bonus being they often wear very little.  Apart from beauty there is no defining characteristic about the revelers: age, gender, race, sexuality all blur in this delicious divine queer melting city.

Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts, Cape Town

The Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts have become an institution in Cape Town.  They take place in the absolutely majestic Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Newlands Cape Town (nominated as 1 of the World Heritage sites) under the watchful gaze of Table Mountain and feature some of the best local and International bands and act for the pleasure of all those keen to lounge around on the grassy slopes while enjoying a lovely picnic.

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