South Africa Table Mountain

Festivals, festivals and more festivals of South Africa

Festivals, festivals and more festivals of South Africa, although it would probably not be the first country you would think of when you say festivals.

South Africa does have a calendar filled with more festivals then most people can think of. In fact many of these festivals have won international acclaim.

Our festivals are occasions where people come together to celebrate anything from the arts and live music, to food cherries, whales, olives, and wine to name but a few.

There's the Ficksburg Cherry Festival, the National Arts Festival, countless mud-and-dust music festivals, the Hermanus Whale Festival, the Oppikoppi Bushveld Festival and many more.


Here's a guide to some of the best festivals of South Africa:




Aardklop Arts Festival,...

Young talent - Festivals of South Africa
Young talent - Festivals of South Africa

Every year during the last week of September, the southern region of the North West province prepares itself for one of the country’s greatest cultural festivals, called Aardklop (roughly translated it means “earth beat”). Although the festival’s focus is on the Afrikaans language and culture, it is a celebration of the arts that can be enjoyed in any language.

Held in the university town of Potchefstroom with its thousands of students, it offers a five day feast of 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. The festival also features a large craft and arts market.

< Top of page

Arts Alive,...

Singing at full volume - Festivals of South Africa
Singing at full volume - Festivals of South Africa
Photograph: Chris Boshoff

The Arts Alive International Festival, held in Johannesburg every September since 1992, is an annual festival of music, dance, theatre and performance-poetry. It features a heady mix of dance, visual art, poetry and music. Over 600 artists take part in the four-day festival, turning the suburb of Newtown, where most of the performances take place, into a “cultural village”.

This entertaining event encompasses a musical feast usually featuring big name stars along with young South African talent; dance performances and events, poetry readings, theatrical productions, exhibitions, film shows and workshops are all designed to take the arts to the people. The festival ends with the popular "Jazz on the Lake" held on the final day of the festival.

< Top of page

Cape Town Jazz Festival,...

Saxophone performance at the Cape Town Jazz Festival - Festivals of South Africa
Saxophone performance at the Cape Town Jazz Festival - Festivals of South Africa
copyright © South African tourism

Since its inception in the year 2000, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival has grown into an incredibly successful international event. Arguably the best jazz festival in Africa, it takes place in Cape Town every last weekend in the month of March. It is ranked No 4 in the world, outshining events such as Switzerland's Montreaux Festival and the North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland.

The festival features around 40 international and local artists, performing to audiences of up to 40 000 people. Performances are held on stages in exhibition halls throughout Cape Town, including one free, open-air show for the less endowed citizens of the festival’s host city. The jazz is accompanied by photographic and other exhibitions.

< Top of page

Cape Town Minstrels Carnival,...

The Cape Town Minstrels celebrating the advent of the New Year - Festivals of South Africa
The Cape Town Minstrels celebrating the advent of the New Year - Festivals of South Africa
copyright © South African tourism

Cape Town’s biggest and most boisterous carnival is the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival which sees the city celebrating the advent of the New Year with numerous festivals, competitions and extravagant parades in a dazzling display of colourful shiny uniforms, painted faces and funky banjo tunes that accompany the towns traditional folk songs. The celebrations commence on New Year’s Day and the party continues well into January.

The carnival has its roots in the culture mix that formed at the Cape over hundreds of years from the interaction and intermingling of indigenous African groups, European settlers, Muslim slaves from the Indonesian archipelago, and people from a variety of other backgrounds. When American minstrels arrived at the Cape in the mid-nineteenth century, the styles and sounds of vaudeville were incorporated into local celebrations, and the Coon Carnival was born.

< Top of page

Hermanus Whale Festival,...

African art with wire and beads - Festivals of South Africa
African art with wire and beads - Festivals of South Africa

The Hermanus Whale Festival, the only Enviro-Arts festival in South Africa, is held annually to celebrate the return of the Southern Right whales who come to waters of Walker Bay at Hermanus year after year to mate and. Making Walker bay the best land-based whale watching destination in the world, they are the star performers of the entertainment packed festival.

During the festival the town of Hermanus plays host to thousands of visitors who flock to the seaside resort to have fun in the unique natural environment, watch whales, revel in music, comedy, cabaret and African rhythms throughout the Festival. Performing artists, including stand-up comics, dramatic actors and musicians, arrive en masse for the event and the many local visual artists use the occasion to exhibit their best work.

< Top of page

Joy of Jazz,...
African musician in full concentration- Festivals of South Africa
African musician in full concentration- Festivals of South Africa
copyright © South African tourism

The Standard Bank “Joy of Jazz”, one of the biggest jazz festivals on South Africa's musical calendar, is held in Johannesburg every year in August. As the premier jazz even of the city of Johannesburg, it will make its drags truly go global with an international line-up of the world’s top jazz artists joined by top performers of South Africa and other African countries.

At this not to be missed jazz extravaganza you will be able to enjoy a large variety of Jazz styles, from Afro jazz and fusion to Latin rhythms, bebop and straight-ahead, with the emphasis strongly on Jazz. Johannesburg's biggest annual jazz festival is also an ideal family outing, with the artists performing at different venues across the city, particularly in Newtown.

< Top of page

Klein Karoo National Kunstefees,...

Afro-Jazz band on stage at the Cape Town Jazz Festival - Festivals of South Africa
Afro-Jazz band on stage at the Cape Town Jazz Festival - Festivals of South Africa
Photograph: Hubert January

Held annually in Oudtshoorn around March/April, the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival is a showcase of a large variety of South African art forms. More then 100 000 art lovers come together to enjoy a momentous week of dancing, film, cabaret, classical music, comedy, cabaret, contemporary music, open air concerts, plays, literary art and poetry. It is a vibrant explosion of the arts, presented mainly, but not exclusively, in Afrikaans.

The festival includes both the visual and the performing arts and is officially recognized by the South African government as a national arts festival. The festival presents over 200 shows, working with over 750 artists in 40 different venues over a period of eight days. There are a range of fringe theatre productions in English, although the majority of the larger productions are in Afrikaans.

< Top of page

Knysna Oyster Festival,...

Knysna’s famous oysters - Festivals of South Africa
Knysna’s famous oysters - Festivals of South Africa

The hugely popular Knysna Oyster Festival is famous for the celebration of its local oysters, of which more then 200 000 will be available to be savored by means of oyster braais, oyster tasting, oyster-eating competitions and other molluscular activities. The festival is essentially a lifestyle celebration of sport and the good life and has established itself as one of the most popular annual events in the Western Cape.

So, it’s not just about oysters. More than 80 exciting events ranging from super-popular sports events and adventure challenges to wine and whisky tasting and gala evenings, draw a crowd of some 65 000 people to the beautiful Garden Route town. The festival’s two main sporting events are the Pick ‘n Pay Rotary Knysna Cycle Tour, a two day festival of cycling and the Pick ‘n Pay Knysna Forest Marathon.

< Top of page

National Arts Festival,...

A craft stall at the Grahamstown Festival - Festivals of South Africa
A craft stall at the Grahamstown Festival - Festivals of South Africa
copyright © South African tourism

At the end of June each year the Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape is transformed into one huge happening for a period of 11 days, when the Grahamstown National Arts Festival gets underway. It’s a national phenomenon of the arts, the largest in South Africa and the second largest in the world after the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. If there's one South African festival you have to attend, this is the one.

The festival offers more than 500 shows from opera, cabaret, drama and jazz to stand-up comics and folk music. From theatre to dance, opera to cabaret, fine art to craft art, classical music to jazz, poetry readings to lectures, every art form imaginable is represented in one of the most diverse festivals in the world. And there's something for every taste, with techno raves, medieval banquets, craft fairs, cyber cafes, carnivals, buskers and walking tours.

< Top of page

Oppikoppi Bushveld Festival,...

One of the thatch roof stages at the Oppikoppi Bushveld Festival - Festivals of South Africa
One of the thatch roof stages at the Oppikoppi Bushveld Festival - Festivals of South Africa
Photograph: Chris Boshoff

Held on the bushveld farm of Oppikoppi ("op die koppie" in Afrikaans, or "on the hill" in English), this festival offers three permanent thatched stages, a smaller comedy stage and a stage for more chilled music, at the top of the koppie. The Oppikoppi Bushveld Festival plays host to a complete mixed bag of genres. Anything from jazz, world music, house music, acoustic, comedy and all else in between can be heard on one of the multiple stages.

The festival is held on a bushveld faro near the mining town of Northam in the Limpopo province. It features mostly South African bands and has helped establish many South African musicians' careers. But it's not for the faint-hearted, this is real African 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.)

< Top of page

Splashy Fen,...

Saxophonist at the Grahamstown Festival - Festivals of South Africa
Saxophonist at the Grahamstown Festival - Festivals of South Africa
copyright © South African tourism

From the humble beginnings in 1990 the Splashy Fen music festival has snowballed into a major event on the South African festival scene. It is Held on the Splashy Fen farm, about 2 hours drive from Durban, in Kwa Zulu Natal every year over the Easter long weekend. Offering a line-up of over 70 of the country’s hottest artists, a multitude of fun outdoor activities, as well as arts and crafts and a wide assortment of food and drink outlets.

The focus of the music in the early years was folk and light folk rock, as well as black music styles such as mbaqanga and iscathamiya. In the past few years the focus has broadened to include mainstream and alternative rock and pop, including some of the country's most popular current acts. Only genuine original music is played at Splashy Fen, and this has played a part in creating a fusion of styles and cultures.

 Mohair wall hangers made by the Sotho people - Festivals of South Africa
Mohair wall hangers made by the Sotho people - Festivals of South Africa
copyright © South African tourism

For a great selection of places to stay with discount prices visit South Africa Hotels for more information





<<< Return to the top of this page

<<< Return from the festivals of South Africa page back to the culture in South Africa page

<<< Return from the festivals of South Africa page back to the South Africa home page



Girl enjoying one of the South Africa beaches

Family enjoying a beach holiday in South Africa

Aerial view of Cape Town and Table Mountain in South Africa

Modern highway network in Port Elizabeth, South Africa


Do you like this site?
give it the
"Thumps up"
by clicking on the g+1 button






XML RSS
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My MSN
Add to Google



Copyright: 2005-2016 South-Africa-Tours-and-Travel.com
Return to top