Everyone loves a good festival and there’s something for everyone on Cape Town’s calendar of festivities. From more intimate electronic music gatherings deep in the countryside to huge rock and jazz fests, carnival, theater, wine and food, here are our top picks for Cape Town’s annual festivals.
Top festivals in Cape Town
When: September 15 to 16, 2018
With so much great wine at their fingertips in the Franschhoek region, it seems only natural for the local winemakers to come together and celebrate it. Every September they join forces and pull out all the stops (and corks). You can travel from one wine estate to another sampling newly released wines and stocking up on your at-home wine collection. There are also themed tastings, special dining experiences, live music, old school lawn games, a giant Jenga and more. You can pre-purchase your weekend pass here.
When: September 21 to 24, 2018
For those flower power loving festivalgoers, who favor a more intimate, laidback setting, the Wolfkop Weekender is your jam. The gathering that’s only open to 600 people takes place twice a year in the picturesque valley of Citrusdal (around 2 hours north of Cape Town). Set against a dramatic backdrop of the Cederberg Mountains and surrounded by orange groves, with the added bonus of a river nearby to cool off in when things get too hot, a carefully curated line up of DJs will entertain you. The wholesome food truck offerings are on point too.
When: September 21 to 22, 2018
This craft beer, liquor and food festival on the Garden route is the largest of its kind in this region. Work your way through hundreds of craft beers from local microbreweries, gorge yourself silly on delicious local food and tickle your taste buds with some creative, locally distilled spirits. The action all takes place in the sunshine in the picturesque grounds of the Fancourt Estate and makes for a fun day out to celebrate the start of spring.
When: September 28 to 30, 2018
Taking place in the whale-watching capital of the world, the Hermanus Whale Festival is a celebration of all things whale in the cute little coastal town of Hermanus (just over an hour south from Cape Town). The main focus of the event is to raise awareness of the oh-so-majestic Southern Right Whales that migrate annually to the Cape Town coast at that time of year. Aside from some serious whale watching from the cliffs or out on a boat, there are live music performances, gourmet food stations galore, wine and craft beer, craft stalls, a parade and an all round good time. If you’re wild about whales you might also want to read our other tips for whale watching in Cape Town.
When: October 5 to 7, 2018
Rocking the Daisies, otherwise known as RTD to its faithful fans, is one of the most famous pop and rock festivals in the Cape Town area and a must for mainstream festival lovers. What started nearly 14 years ago as a humble little festival has grown into an enormous annual music and lifestyle event featuring multiple stages and hundreds of acts, including numerous international names. Tickets always sell out fast so get in there early.
When: January 2
One of the biggest events on Cape Town’s cultural agenda, The Cape Town Minstrel Festival or Kaapse Klopse dates back to the colonial era of the mid 1800s when Dutch colonialists required their slaves to work over the New Year’s festivities and gave them a day off on January 2. When slavery was abolished in South Africa in 1834, the event became a celebration of freedom characterized by street processions. Today it’s a free event that attracts thousands of people to watch flamboyantly dressed face-painted Kaapse Klopse (troupes) sing and dance through the streets to the sounds of the ghoema (a barrel-shaped drum), in procession from District Six to the city center.
When: February 7 to 10, 2019
To get a taster of the local music scene, Up the Creek has been around for almost 30 years and focuses solely on South African artists. There are three stages and over 50 bands to give you your rock, pop and electronic music fill. Don’t forget your inflatable pink lounger as there’s also a giant creek onsite that’s the perfect place to float around and recover with your fellow revelers from the night before, before you start all over again.
When: March 29 to 30, 2019
One of the largest music festivals of its kind in the region, the two-day Cape Town International Jazz Festival features a star-studded lineup of local and international jazz artists and takes place every year on two stages at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Keep an eye out for when tickets go on sale as they get snapped up fast. If you miss out on tickets, or they’re a little out of your budget, you can also get your jazz fix at the free concert that takes place in Greenmarket Square leading up to the main event.
When: The main Fringe Festival returns in 2019 but the festival’s offspring Cape Town Busker’s Festival runs from November 1 to November 11, 2018.
Inspired by the original Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, the Cape Town Fringe Festival is a live multi-arts festival. From music, contemporary dance and comedy to serious dramas, expect the weird, the wonderful and the experimental. Similarly the Busker’s festival offers the same dynamic performances but in the form of free street performances, mostly based around the V&A Waterfront.
Know of any other great festivals to enjoy in Cape Town? Share the info with our readers in the comments section below.