Festive season events in Durban not to be missed

2017-12-09 11:09 - Kavitha Pillay
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Cape Town - Durban is arguably the festive season capital of SA.

While Cape Town attracts thousands of international visitors, Durban comes out tops for local travellers.

Maybe it’s because of its warm and inviting beaches, coupled with sunshine and friendly locals filled with festive cheer, or perhaps it’s because it’s cheaper than Cape Town, not overtaken by our much-loved international guests and still feels like Mzansi…

Either way, expect Durban to become a hub of activity yet again as you wind down 2017, with a myriad of festivals and events to keep you entertained.

If you haven’t planned anything yet, fear not, as the chilled east coast city has a number of #LastMinute events to add to your festive celebrations.

One-of-a-kind festivities

A Christmas Celebration

A Christmas Celebration will light up the Playhouse Opera Theatre stage, featuring gospel sensation, Dr Tumi, Tim Moloi, Khanyo Maphumulo, East Coast Radio deejay Darren Maule, soapie star Thandeka Dawn King, as well as KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, Playhouse Dance Residency and The Playhouse Chorale.

Directed by Ralph Lawson, the music and dance spectacle is a festive treat that’s not to be missed.

Where: Playhouse Opera Theatre

When: 22-24 December, with a special preview on 21 December.

Cost: Tickets range from R80 to R120 and are available from Computicket or from the Playhouse Box office on 031 369 9596/ 9540. For block booking specials call 031 369 9407.

Playhouse patrons receive discounted parking at The Royal Hotel Parkade. The Playhouse coffee shop offers a variety of light meals and drinks, while the Playhouse bar is open for every performance.

The Playhouse Chorale. (Photo: Supplied)            

Festive Trail of Lights

Africa’s oldest surviving botanic gardens will be transformed into a wonderland with thousands of lights and festive activity - featuring a kids’ Activity Garden and Christmas carols by the Umlazi Children’s Gospel Choir.

The festive event was inspired by an opportunity to showcase the gardens, create a family experience and provide a platform for people to give back. KZN charities involved in the event hope to raise funds for their causes.

ALSO SEE: #FindYourEscape: Summer festivals across SA

Activities will include cupcake decorating, face painting, education stations, sand-art, ceramic painting, pony rides, meeting Santa and other Christmas characters, visiting the Tree of Light where a light may be sponsored in remembrance of loved ones, as well as the talking tree and the North Pole Mailbox where the all-important ‘letters to Santa’ can be posted.

A food garden will be available and no food or drink may be brought into the gardens.

Where: Durban’s Botanic Gardens

When: 18:30 – 21:30, from 17-24 December.

Cost: Tickets are R40 per person for online sales and R50 at the gate. Book your tickets at Webtickets.co.za, children under two years enter free. There are limited tickets available per night so pre-book to avoid disappointment.  For more information visit www.trailoflights.co.za or contact info@trailoflights.co.za

uMhlanga Summer Festival

The annual uMhlanga Summer Festival brings a myriad family-centred holiday activities for visitors and locals to uMhlanga for the festive season.

The event comprises a number of interactive and spectator events designed to appeal to the diverse people attending.

It has been staged for 12 years and attracts over 600 000 visitors to the beach over the event duration. The Beach Festival from 14-23 December encourages people to participate in the fun and games on the uMhlanga Millennium Stage with daily activities planned around the main beach and stage from 10:00 – 14:00 daily.

ALSO SEE: School Holiday Fun: Things to do in Durban for families on a budget

The season also includes Miss uMhlanga at Millennium Stage at 11:30 on 16 December, uMhlanga Trail Run/ Walk at Sibaya at 6:00 on 17 December and Carols under the Stars at Granada Square at  6:00 on 20 December.

The programme wraps up every afternoon at 13:30 with a community beach clean up to ensure that everyone gets involved in keeping the beaches in their pristine condition.  

Where: Umhlanga

When: 14 – 23 December

Cost: Tickets range from R100 - R400. Check out uMhlanga Tourism Facebook page or call 031 561 4257 for more information.

Memories of the 2017 Umhlanga Easter Festival. Can't wait for the #Umhlangasummerfestival2017

A post shared by Umhlanga Tourism (@umhlanga_tourism) on


Durban Comedy Festival 2017

Four epic shows featuring 17 of the funniest comedians from Durban and around the country, On Fire Comedy presents the third Durban Comedy Festival 2017 from 20-23 December - Durban’s biggest annual Comedy Festival.

Expect to see Joey Rasdien, Nik Rabinowitz, John Vlismas, Loyiso Madinga, Annalakshmi, Neil Green, Glen Biderman-Pam, Masood Boomgaard, Neville Pillay, Jem Atkins and more. Here’s the line-up:


Where: Gateway Hotel, Umhlanga Ridge.

When: 20 December at 19:30


Where: Butlers Restaurant, Hillcrest

When: 21 December at 20:30


Where: Gateway Hotel, Umhlanga Ridge

When: 22 December, 19:30


Line-up: John Vlismas, Jem Atkins, Glen Biderman-Pam, Masood Boomgaard

Where: Gateway Hotel, Umhlanga Ridge.

When: 23 December at 20:30

Tickets to all shows cost R150 each at Computicket. No under 16’s at any show. Call 031 536 9200 or e-mail info@onfirecomedy.co.za for more details.


Durban is abuzz with a variety of markets at this time of year to satisfy foodie-travellers, keep families busy and leave shop-a-holics spoilt for choice. Here are some of the markets to check out:

Shongweni Christmas Extravaganza Market

When: 2 - 30 December 2017 

Where: Hillcrest

Time: 08:00 - 18:00

Cost: Free 

I Heart Market Festive Season Markets 

When: Every Saturday from 2 - 16 December 2017  and 6 January 2018

Where: Moses Mabhida stadium

Time: 09:00 - 14:00

Cost: Free

The Festive Market KZN 

When: 14 - 19 December 2017

Where: Inanda Road, Hillcrest

Time: 09:00 onward

Cost: Free

ALSO SEE: #JingleBells: Must-do Christmas Markets across SA


Durban is renowned for its rich and vibrant theatre culture, with an array of musicals, dramas, dance pieces, pantos and more to entertain kids, adults and people of all ages and backgrounds. Here are some not-to-be-missed performances:

Sinbad the Sailor

KickstArt’s 14th annual pantomime takes viewers over the Seven Seas, with famous sailor, Sinbad, and his crew and family. With colourful sets and costumes that exude the magical Arabian Nights, together with music and dance inspired by Bollywood, this is pantomime promises an enjoyable experience for the whole family.

Where: Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre

When: 1 December 2017 – 7 January 2018. Performances at 14:30 Tuesdays to Sundays, 19:00 on Fridays. No performances on Christmas day or New Year’s Day.

Cost: R230/R180/R150 - full price, R180/R160/R120 - children under 12 and pensioners. Bookings at Computicket or call 0861 915 8000.  For more information visit www.kickstarttheatre.co.za.

Captain Redbeard & Jeff’s Great Christmas Adventure!

Families can enjoy an outing with funny men, Aaron McIlroy and Patrick Kenny, that’s set to be an entertaining comedy show, with festive season songs performed by school groups.

Where: Olive Tree Church, Florida Road

When: 7-16 December

Cost: Tickets are R85 per person. Bookings at Webtickets, more information at info@webtickets.co.za or call 086 111 0005.


Enjoy some light-hearted entertainment before partying the night away with Durban’s festive season adult panto with Anthony Stonier as Count(ess) Dracula. Expect carnival minstrel, sultry voices and comedic antics that promise viewers a festive escape.

Bring along a picnic basket as there is no restriction on the food being brought into the venue, and support the venue’s bar.

Where: Club Altitude, Stamford Hill

When: Until 30 December. Tuesdays to Saturday 19:30

Cost: Cost is R140 each. For bookings and inquiries contact Ailsa of Going Places SA on 071 820 5617 or email editor.goingplacessa@gmail.com


“Anomaly” by Corne´ Eksteen

The final exhibition at of the year at artSPACE durban is “Anomaly” by Corne´ Eksteen.

Works in the series explore the polarities between the controlled and unpredictable, says the artist. “It focuses on the repurposing of intentionally corrupted imagery and questions what it means if we reclaim the “errors” in our technology and use them as tools in representing and defining ourselves.”

Where: artSPACE durban, 3 Millar Road

When: Until 22 December

Cost: Call 031 312 0793 or visit www.artspace-durban.com for more information.

One of the artworks on display at artSPACE durban. (Photo: Supplied)

The Secret of Beads / Imfihlo Yobuhlalu

The Secret of Beads / Imfihlo Yobuhlalu exhibition celebrates the richness of Zulu Culture represented by beadwork which has been collected by The Durban Art Gallery over many years.  This is the first time it will be shown to the public.

The exhibition will have an educational component with lectures, workshops and a website for access by students.

Where: Durban Art Gallery

When: until 29 April 2018

Cost: Free entry

What to read next on Traveller24:

#JingleBells: Must-do Christmas Markets across SA

#FindYourEscape: Summer festivals across SA

School Holiday Fun: Things to do in Durban for families on a budget