Winter festivals around SA to keep out the cold

2019-05-12 12:09
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Winter is coming, but you don't have to be stuck indoors for the whole season with these cool festivals to check out.

From wine to arts to food to surf, South Africa knows how to throw a great celebration.

SEE: Where to stop and smell the fynbos this Winter

Wacky Wine Weekend

Where: Robertson, Ashton, Bonnievale and McGregor

When: 7 - 9 June

Price: R200 per person, R150 for pensioners over 60 and free for kids under 18.

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.

Encounters Film Festival

Where: Cape Town and Johannesburg

When: 6 - 16 June

Price: TBC

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. 

Hermanus Fynarts

Where: Hermanus

When: 7 - 17 June

Price: Varies

The diverse arts and culture event is packed with visual arts, literature, music and award-winning food and wine. Festival-goers can expect musical entertainment, exhibitions and talks around photography and ceramics as well as workshops of those aspiring artists who want to get their hands dirty. 

READ: The Overberg is winter-escape ready, here's why you should head to Hermanus

Calitzdorp Port and Wine Festival

Where: Calitzdorp

When: 15 - 17 June

Price: TBC

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.

Dullstroom Winter Festival

Where: Dullstroom

When: 21 - 23 June 2019

Price: R130

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. 

Knysna Oyster Festival

Where: Knysna

When: 21 - 30 June 2019

Price: Varies

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. A quick look through this year's programme reveals events as varied and exciting as a Bubbly, Oyster and Chocolate Experience, a Whisky & Jazz Cruise, a bowls tournament, a SASSI fish braai, forest hikes, nightclub dash, forest marathon and a comedy show, to name but a few.

SEE: Into the Woods: Eco-adventures from the heart of Knysna at Turbine Boutique Hotel & Spa

National Arts Festival

Where: Grahamstown

When: 27 June - 7 July

Price: Varies

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 10 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.

Vrystaat Kunstefees

Where: Jeffrey's Bay

When: 1 - 7 July

Price: Varies

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. 

JBay Winterfest

Where: Jeffrey's Bay

When: 6 - 22 July

Price: Varies

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.

READ: 5 Reasons why JBay took home the Kwêla Town of the Year award

Durban July

Where: Durban 

When: 6 July

Price: Varies

South Africans are by now well-acquainted with this staple of the South African social calendar. The horse races have in recent times been overshadowed by celebrity, fashion and sparkling wine - but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Don't horse around, make sure to plan ahead and check out this major annual event. 

Bastille Day

Where: Franschhoek

When: 14 July

Price: R395

This is the time to dust off your berets, pull out the baguettes, croissants and all of the French jargon you've got stocked up in your pardon bank for the festival taking place at the historic Franschhoek Huguenot Monument.

Durban International Film Festival

Where: Durban

When: 18 - 28 July

Price: Varies

DIFF – one of the biggest film festivals on the continent, running for its 40th year - shines a spotlight on profound social issues while providing a global platform for the practitioners in the film industry. 

READ: What winter? How to have a sun-kissed mini-break in Durban

Slow Food and Wine Festival

Where: Robertson

When: 9 - 11 August

Price: TBC

Food and wine enthusiasts will get to savour the flavours of the countryside at their desired leisurely pace. Each experience must be booked directly with the host at robertsonslow.com. There’s also a Family Market on the Sunday, free of charge for all to visit.

Poetry in McGregor

Where: McGregor

When: 23 - 25 August

Price: Varies

Feed your soul with poetry performed by local artists and bask in a weekend of relaxation by escaping to the town of McGregor. The theme for this year’s festival is “The Heart of the Moon” and poets have envisioned many presentations of the theme.

Hantam Vleisfees

Where: Calvinia

When: 30 - 31 August

Price: R70 for Friday, R120 for Saturday (Kids under 18 R30 and R60 respectively)

As the name suggests, the festival revolves around meat. But not just any meat! Karoo mutton and lamb to be more specific. Apart from delicious hearty food, the festival also presents an array of popular Afrikaans artists.

SEE: SA Road Trips Mapped: Highlights of the Karoo Highlands Route

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