A feast of South African festivals
Dance UmbrellaWhere: Johannesburg, Gauteng Website: Dance Umbrella A festival of contemporary choreography and dance, the Dance Umbrella presents work ranging from community-based dance troupes to international companies. Since it started in 1988, it has launched many South African choreographers into international dance, including Vincent Mantsoe, Robyn Orlin and Boyzie Cekwana.
Up the CreekWhere: Up the Creek campsite, Breede River, near Swellendam, Western Cape 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.
Prickly Pear FestivalWhere: Uitenhage, Nelson Mandela Bay, Eastern Cape The Prickly Pear Festival is 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 International Jazz FestivalWhere: Cape Town, Western Cape Website: Cape Town International Jazz Festival Cape Town International Jazz is a two-day festival held during March or April 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 KreeffeesWhere: Lambert's Bay, West Coast, Western Cape Website: Kreeffees Kreef is Afrikaans for crayfish, and a fees can be both festival and feast. It is held every March in the West Coast town of Lambert's Bay, where 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.
The Rotary River FestivalWhere: Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng Website: Rotary River Festival The Rotary River Festival takes place on the banks of the Vaal River at Stonehaven on Vaal in Vanderbijlpark and has been running since 1995. It's a fun fund-raising occasion, with the money raised going to a large number of local charities. The festival features top musicians, dance, fashion, raft racing, tasty eats, and plenty of fun for the kids and those that are young at heart.
Scifest AfricaWhere: 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.
Tonteldoos Country FestivalWhere: Tonteldoos, Mpumalanga The Tonteldoos Country Festival, previously known as the 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.
Klein Karoo Nationale KunstefeesWhere: 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.
AfrikaBurnWhere: Tankwa Karoo, Northern Cape Website: AfrikaBurn 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. In a nutshell, it's about radical self-expression.
Splashy FenWhere: 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. It offers plenty of facilities, but there are great bed-and-breakfasts in nearby towns for those who believe music festivals can be enjoyed without mud.
Philippolis Witblits FestivalWhere: Philippolis, Free State 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 FestivalWhere: Prince Albert, Western Cape Website: Prince Albert Town and Olive Festival 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 GrasWhere: 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.
Riebeek Kasteel Olive FestivalWhere: Riebeek Kasteel, Western Cape Website: Riebeek Kasteel Olive Festival 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 South Africa, the festival also has an art competition, live entertainment, stalls and lots of food.
Calitzdorp Port and Wine FestivalWhere: Calitzdorp, Western Cape Website: Calitzdorp Port and Wine Festival The Klein Karoo town of Calitzdorp is the port-wine capital of South Africa. Its annual port festival, held over a weekend in June, is hosted by the eight wine cellars of Calitzdorp. There's a historical treasure hunt around the town, local arts and crafts, lifestyle market stalls to suit all tastes, the Port Dance, restaurants, food stalls and the annual South African boules championships, plus much more.
National Arts FestivalWhere: 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.
Dullstroom Winter FestivalWhere: Dullstroom, Mpumalanga Website: Dullstroom Winter Festival Held annually in July, the Dullstroom Winter Festival is historically themed as Christmas in Winter. Activities during the festival include a golf day, a tagged trout event – Dullstroom is a fly-fishing hotspot – chocolate and wine tastings, art exhibitions, whiskey tastings and themed restaurant evenings. Live music shows showcasing roots, blues and folk music from top South African performers take place at various venues around town.
Knysna Oyster FestivalWhere: 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.
VryfeesWhere: Bloemfontein, Free State Website: Vryfees Formerly the Volksblad Arts Festival, this is a lovely festival with lots of live shows, stage productions, and an art market with lots of stalls. This festival is the big showcase for artists from all over the country who want to perform in the Free State.
Ellisras Bushveld FestivalWhere: Lephalele (Ellisras), Limpopo 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 4x4 competition, a game farms expo, hunting opportunities, bird- and tree-identification competitions, traditional food, a beer tent and huge camp fires.
Oppikoppi Bushveld FestivalWhere: 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.)
You came, you saw, you rolled in the dust. And liked it. The @hilltoplive and Oppikoppi Festival family would like to thank all of you for being part of the dusty celebration of tunes and creativity. 21 years of pushing forward, or actually just pushing. As Tom Robbins said: “Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.” Amen. So for now: shower, sleep, shower, sleep, shower, sleep. Eat. Tomorrow, as always, is another tune. See you guys in a year or so, with lots of new plans and tunes. Thank you. And good night. The OppiKoppi Family (📷 @marnusstrydom)
Standard Bank Joy of JazzWhere: 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 VleisfeesWhere: 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.
Cellar Rats Wine FestivalWhere: Magaliesburg, Gauteng Website: Cellar Rats Wine Festival Taste South Africa's best wines in a tranquil outdoor setting in Magaliesburg. 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 AliveWhere: 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 FestivalWhere: Potchefstroom, North West 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.