14 Winter festivals happening around SA

2017-04-19 21:00
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Cape Town - While we tend to associate summer with fun events, South Africa is keeping things hot and happening this winter with an array of festivals taking place all across the country. 

Whether you're a foodie, a film buff, a culture vulture or enjoy quaffing alcoholic beverages, there is something for everyone - PLUS we have some Traveller24 top tips. 

So, whip out those calendars, gather your friends and start planning!


The Shakespeare Schools Festival, Cape Town, 08 - 13 May 

The festival is an additional education program aimed at improving language and social skills through the performing arts. Various schools take part in performing a 30 minute Shakesperian play and this is non-competitive. 

Tickets cost R60 per person and can be purchased on Computicket.  

Op 'n Stasiefees, Wellington, 13 May

In celebration of Wellington's 125th year of existence, the winelands town will be hosting the Op 'n Stasie music, wine and food festival.

Taking place at Wellington Wines, the festival will kick off on Friday night with performances by Leani May and Karin K. This will be followed on the Saturday by fun for the whole family, including a strongman competition, train rides, milk tart making, comedy and lots of wine.

Tickets can be purchased on Computicket. For more information, call 082 374 314

Cradle of Creativity FestivalCape Town, 17- 27 May

The 19th The International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People (ASSITEJ) World Congress and Performing Arts Festival for Children and Young People, It will be the first time  held on the African continent since the inception of ASSITEJ in 1965 and will focus on what the continent has to offer in terms of theatre for young audiences.

View the list of performances here

Tickets vary from R50- R75 which can be booked on Computicket


Cellar Rats Port & Red Wine Festival, Magaliesburg, 3 June

Warm up and get cosy with the hearty wine, port and food offerings at the only festival of its sort in Gauteng. Enjoy some of South Africa's best ports, sherry, dessert wines, potstill brandy & red wine at the Old Mill in Magaliesburg. There will also be delectable warm winter food. Only a 40 minute drive from Johannesburg's northern suburbs, it makes for an enjoyable day outing.

Tickets cost R130-R180. No children under 18 unless in a pram or stroller allowed. Designated drivers will need to pay R65.

Traveller24's top tip: Why not make a weekend of it? Head out on Friday and spend Saturday exploring the Magalies Meander, ending your weekend getaway off with a bang at the Port & Wine Festival 

Good food and wine show, Cape Town, 2-4 June

Africa’s largest culinary event is about prevailing global obsession with sustainability and a healthier planet inspired by the global trend for urban farming and the gradual urbanisation of rural contexts.

This, the golden thread throughout the Cape Town show, is expressed through innovative culinary experiences, a variety of themes and programmes, and selection of chefs.

General tickets are priced at R144 online and R160 at the door. Chefs Table tickets starting at R800 per person if you’d like to attend masterclasses with the celebrity chefs.  Visit their site for full programme details.  Tickets are also available through Computicket.  

Wacky Wine Weekend, Robertson 1 -4 June

The ultimate winter wine festival in the Western Cape, Wacky Wine is all about enjoying all the magnificent scenery, gorgeous wines and delicious food the Robertson valley has on offer. The organisers are also very serious about responsible consumption of alcohol and have a special designated drivers program as well as a buddy bus service, which means you can sit back, relax and just enjoy the ride.

Apart from food and wine, the festival also has a great music and entertainment line-up taking place across the more than 50 venues participating in the event. Check out the program to start planning and booking.

A passport for the entire weekend costs R180, which you will pick up at your first port of call. This acts as registration to the weekend and takes the form of a stylish tasting glass with a strip around the foot of the glass, which will allow you entry to the various venues. 

Traveller24's top tip: Invest in a pair of gum boots before you go. Wacky Wine always tends to get a muddy and wet... and there's nothing like wet feet to put a dampener on fun. 

READ: Route62 - don't just drive there, stop somewhere

Encounters Film Festival, Joburg and Cape Town 1 -11 June 

This proudly South African documentary film festival is a highlight on the country's cultural calendar. Featuring films from across the country, continent and globe, Encounters serves as a point of reference for the latest trends in the industry as well as a meeting spot for like-minded individuals to share their stories, debate their points of view and enjoy input from respected artists. The festival will be running in Cape Town and Johannesburg simultaneously at various venues across the cities. 

Keep an eye on the Encounters website for updates

Traveller24's top tip: Apart from film screenings there are a variety of related social events and parties happening in conjunction with Encounters. If you're into films, we head to at least one of these to rub shoulders with fellow buffs.

Calitzdorp Port & Wine Festival,Calitzdorp, 6-18 June

Centred around the Little Karoo town's rich dessert wine production culture, the Port & Wine festival is an absolute celebration for the senses, featuring a gourmet food market, secret dinners and music events. The historical Calitzdorp Railway Station serves as the venue for the main festivities, while Boplaas, De Krantz and Calitzdorp Cellars also host a number of events.

Different events have different cover charges and some require pre-booking, so be sure to check out the programme to plan your stay.    

Traveller24's top tip: Take some time out on Saturday or Sunday morning to take a little drive further along the famed Route 62, maybe pop into Diesel and Creme in Barrydale for a milkshake or head to the Cango Caves just outside Oudsthoorn   


National Arts Festival, Grahamstown 29 June – 9 July 

If you're into arts, culture, drama and dance, chances are good that you're well acquainted with the 'Grahamstown festival' as it is affectionately known. Spread over 11 days, this year's festival is jam-packed with performances, exhibitions, installations, craft markets, lectures and workshops, some forming part of the Main programme and others, the Fringe. While there are a massive array of acts to look forward to, the announcement that British comedian Dylan Moran will be performing had many excited. 

The National Arts Festival is of great historical importance, as it served as an important forum for political and protest theatre during the height of the apartheid era.    

Tickets can be booked from 9 May 2017 here

Traveller24's top tip: Bundle up! It gets icy cold in Grahamstown during winter months, so make sure you have a pair of warm boots, a padded rain-resistant jacket and a woolly beanie.  

Dullstroom Winter Festival, Dullstroom, 1- 3 July

Famous for being one of South Africa's top fly fishing destinations, Dullstroom will take on a festive atmosphere during the first week of July, as some top local artists will descend upon the town to warm everyone up with some toe-tapping tunes.

Apart from the musical element, there will also be a mountain bike race as well as a 10km trail run. Details about artists and ticket prices haven't  been released yet, but if last year's line-up is anything to go by (featuring Khan from Parlotones, Southern Gypsy Queen and Robyn Auld to name but a few), there's a lot to look forward to.

Keep an eye on the Dullstroom Winter Festival Facebook page for updates

Traveller24's top tip: Be sure to visit Wild About Whisky. The speciality bar and shop has the largest collection of whiksy in the southern hemisphere!

Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster FestivalKnysna, 7-16 July

Whether you're into food, wine, adventure, culture, just chilling or all of the above, the Knysna Oyster Festival has something to float your boat. There is no overarching cover charge for the festival, so make sure which events you want to attend/participate in beforehand so you can plan and book.

Traveller's top tip: Knysna gets crazy busy during the festival and chances of finding affordable, comfortable accommodation are pretty slim. Look at the outskirts - Sedgefield, Wilderness, Plett and George - for alternatives. 

JBay WinterfestJeffreys Bay, 12-23 July

With the JBay Open forming the backbone of the event, the Winter Fest is set to draw surf enthusiasts from all corners of the globe.

However, it's not only about surfing! Other events on the programme include a mountain bike race, a surf event and loads of informal festivities happening at restaurants and bars across the town. 

Head to the JBay Winterfest Facebook page for updates on events

Traveller24's top tip: If you're only going for part of the festival, don't set your heart on seeing some spectacular surfing. Often days go by without any action as organisers and contestants wait for good waves. 

#jbayx trail run at the #jbaywinterfest was a great success for the first leg of this unique challenge @kodymcgregor

A post shared by Jbay Winter Fest (@jbaywinterfest) on

Bloemfontein Vryfees, Bloemfontein 18 – 22 July 

The Bloemfontein Vryfees is an arts festival celebrating Afrikaans performers and artists. Backed by the University of the Free State as well as Volksblad, it is considered to be the Free State's biggest cultural event of the year. Not many details have been released regarding this year's festival programme or artist involvement, but if previous years are anything to go by it will comprise a good mix of drama, comedy and visual arts. 

Keep an eye on the Vryfees Facebook page for updates and info.

Traveller24's top tip: Bloemfontein is one of South Africa's most underrated cities. Make sure you take some time to explore. Interesting attractions include the Free State National Botanical Garden, Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Queen's Fort Military Museum and Anglo Boer War Museum.


Hantam VleisfeesCalvinia. 25-26 August

Enjoy the annual meat festival which promotes the delicious, spicy mutton of the region. There is a lot of activities that you can take part in. There is a music concert, street party, vintage car rally and, a highlight for many, the Miss Vleisfees competition - a glittering affair with dinner and dancing.

Ticket prices are not yet out but see Hantam Vleisfees for more details

Traveller24's top tip: If you are a meat-lover, you might want to take an empty cooler box and/or a portable fridge, as you're probably going to want to bring some loot back home. 

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