The Western Cape is the social and cultural melting pot of South Africa. There is always something going on, be it a music, food or wine festival, concert or sporting event. One simply cannot keep up with the speed of the social and cultural calendar of Cape Town and the Western Cape. We have made a list of the festivals and events that are not to be missed. Let’s have a look:

 

Good Food and Wine Show

 

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The world’s biggest travel magazine Conde’ Nast, recently named Cape Town as the 3rd Best Food City in the world. The city was also named as the top summer food destination by the world’s biggest food news network CNN. Over the last couple of years the city has hosted some amazing food and wine festivals, the most famous of which is the Good Food and Wine show. This year the show, which will be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, will host a string of world renowned chefs, bakers, food critics and writers. Matt Preston from Masterchef Australia fame, Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro and TV chef Siba Mtongana will all be showcasing their talents at the annual event. Doors open at 10am and close at 9pm on the Friday and Saturday. On Sunday the show will be open from 10am to 6pm.

 

Knysna Oyster Festival

 

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From fresh seafood, a beautiful coastline, delicious wine, pristine forests to world class sports events, the Knysna Oyster Festival certainly has it all. There are numerous activities hosted at the festival that you can join in on. You can work up a sweat at the 50 or 80 km mountain bike race, or you can dust off your running shoes for the Featherbed Trail Run. If these “active” activities make you a little nervous, then you can head to wine and oyster tastings or the cooking and art workshops. If you are in the mood for some light exercise after tasting the delicious food and wine on offer at the festival, then you can go and play a round of golf in the Knysna Classic or head down to the Knysna lagoon for a spot of canoeing.

The Pick n Pay Flavours of Knysna competition and the Oyster chucking and eating competition are among the highlights of the festival. The Flavours of Knysna competition gives the top restaurants in the area a chance to go head to head against each other in a cook off competition. To avoid missing out on this great festival we recommend that you book your accommodation and transport as soon as possible because availability is limited.

 

Hermanus Whale Festival

 

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The annual Hermanus Whale Festival celebrates the start of the calving season and the return of the Southern Right Whale to the South African coast. The festival was first held over 23 years go and it has only gone from strength to strength since. It is one of the most popular festivals in South Africa with over 110 000 people in attendance in 2013 alone. Hermanus is widely regarded as the best land based whale watching destination in the world. The town has numerous walking trails along its coast which all offer unrestricted whale watching viewpoints.

Popular local musicians like Jeremy Oliver, Goodluck and Mark Haze perform at the festival every year. Accommodation types available in and around Hermanus vary from camping at Onrus to 5 star luxury at the Marine Hotel in Hermanus. We recommend that you book your rooms sooner rather than later as availability runs out very quickly. If you want to get real up close and personal with the whales, you need to get on a whale watching boat or join in on one of the sea kayaking tours of the bay.

 

Afrikaburn

 

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Afrikaburn is South Africa’s regional version of the world famous Burning Man event, which is held in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, USA. On a farm deep in the Tankwa Karoo, hundreds of people gather for the party of the year, Afrika Burn. The festival will is held on the Stonehenge farm, which is situated on a 250 km long gravel road between Ceres and Calvinia next to the Tankwa Karoo National Park. Afrikaburn is made up of a community of volunteers who create burning structures, art, mutant vehicles, theme camps, music and much more. Afrikaburn’s main principles are to be inclusive and accessible to everyone. There is nothing but ice for sale at the event.

The event is what they call a decommodified zone with a gift economy. People give whatever they have to their fellow Afrikaburners without expecting anything in return. The 10 Principles of Burning man are the foundations around which the event is planned and executed. The principals focus on environmental responsibility, inclusivity and community. By camping under the stars and experiencing the silence that one only gets in the Karoo, one’s appreciation for nature gets restored. Please remember that money is good for nothing at Afrikaburn. You will have to take everything you need along with you (except ice). If you should run out of anything, you will have to rely on the principals of Afrikaburn and the kind nature of your fellow Afrikaburners to provide for you!

 

Bastille Festival

 

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One of South Africa’s most picturesque towns Franschhoek, will once again host the annual Bastille Festival. The Cap Classique and Wine region of South Africa will celebrate its French Huguenot heritage with a feast of food, wine and entertainment. The Food and Wine Marquee is where all of the fun will be had. You can come and taste some of the finest French cheeses and Franschhoek wines at the marquee as well as delicious food made by local chefs who will be strutting their stuff. There are loads of activities to join in on. Fitness junkies can brace the cold and run in the Trail Run on Saturday morning, or ride in the Mountain Bike Classic on the Sunday.

The town will be abuzz with activity, the most popular of which is the Solms-Delta Parade, the Barrel-Rolling Competition and the Boules Tournament. Families seeking a more relaxed atmosphere should get tickets for the Sunday because the atmosphere is usually more relaxed. This festival promises to be a very eloquent affair where you can rub shoulders with the who’s who of the wine and food socialites of Cape Town, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. It’s the one social event not to be missed for those who want to see and be seen!

 

Cape Town Jazz Festival

 

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The Cape Town Jazz Festival, which is the world’s fourth largest jazz festival, brings the best of the international and local jazz scene together under one roof. The festival has become internationally known as one of South Africa’s top music festivals. Tickets are sold out months before hand and hoarded more closely than most valuables. Renowned artists like Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Amel Larrieux, Al Jarreau and Thundercat draw crowds from all over the country year in and year out.

There are five stages with over 40 artists performing over two days. The event takes place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. The two-day passes are almost always sold out well ahead of time, so if you want to get your hands on them we recommend you buy them as soon as possible.

 

Cape Town Carnival

 

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The second weekend of March every year signals the start of Cape Town’s biggest street party. The theme for the Cape Town Carnival changes every year. For instance the theme for 2015 was Elemental! How it works is you have to make or buy a costume which relates to the theme of the year. Get in your most spectacular costume and join the 1km Fan Walk, which starts at the corner of Coburn and Somerset Roads in Green Point. The Carnival parade traditionally begins at 7:00 pm, after an impressive fireworks display.

There will be giant floats, special acts and wacky puppets passing through the street, each carefully built and decorated to represent the specific theme of the year. The parade runs for approximately two hours after which there will be an awesome open air party that only ends when the sun comes up!