Immersing yourself in a new culture is one of the most enriching and exciting elements of travel. South Africa is a vibrant, culturally-rich county bursting with colourful events, innovative art and local flavours. To make the most out of your road trip, pencil the following events into your road trip planner for South Africa:
Old Mutual Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts, Cape Town
These hugely popular outdoor concerts take place in the gorgeous Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, just five minutes from the city of Cape Town. The concerts run from December through to April and feature a mix of local and international acts. Pack a picnic, pick a spot on the grass and soak up the great music and exquisite scenery.
J&B Met, Cape Town
For fashionistas and horse-lovers alike, the J&B Met is one of the highlights of Cape Town’s social calendar. The theme for 2014 is ‘Made to Conquer’ – so pack some glad rags and a pair of heels if you plan on spending a day at the races.
The Soweto Derby, Soweto
As far as cultural experiences go, you can’t beat attending a South African soccer match. Include the Soweto Derby in your road trip planner for South Africa as no match is more fiercely contested or draws a bigger crowd. Bring your vuvuzela (plastic horn blown at sporting events) and get swept up in the madness as top clubs Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates face off.
Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Cape Town
While Cape Town’s jazz scene might be small – almost underground – for the majority of the year, music lovers of all genres unite in a jazz-induced frenzy of appreciation during the Cape Town International Jazz Festival.
AfrikaBurn, Tankwa Karoo
Once a year, the dusty nothingness of the Tankwa Karoo is transformed into a temporary city of tents, art installations, mutant vehicles and weird – but wonderful – people. The festival creates a mini-society based on a culture of creativity and run on a ‘decommodified gift economy’. By night, towers of flame lick the sky as artworks are ceremonially set alight. This is one festival that has to be experienced to be understood.
Klein Karoo Nationale Kunstefees, Oudtshoorn
The Klein Karoo Nationale Kunstefees (Little Karoo National Arts Festival) showcases the best of local Afrikaans visual and performing arts. The festival, based in the ostrich-mad town of Oudtshoorn in the Klein Karoo, is one of the best-attended arts festivals in the country.
The Sardine Run, Wild Coast
If you’re an ocean lover, make sure that your road trip planner for South Africa includes one of the ocean’s most dramatic events; the Sardine Run. Each year between May and July, massive shoals of sardines complete a spawning migration from their feeding grounds off the Eastern Agulhas banks to the KwaZulu-Natal coastline. If you have the sea legs for it, the best way to view the spectacle is from a boat, where you can watch the action unfold as dolphins, Cape Gannets and sharks follow the fish on a hunt of truly epic proportions.
National Arts Festival, Grahamstown
Considered one of the biggest annual celebrations of the arts on the African continent, the Grahamstown National Arts Festival is comprised of both a Main and Fringe program, showcasing local drama, dance, comedy, visual art exhibitions, film, street theatre and much, much more.
Knysna Oyster Festival, Knysna
If you’re travelling with your family, highlight the Knysna Oyster Festival on your road trip planner for South Africa. Set in the attractive town of Knysna, this is a brilliant festival for the whole family; incorporating food, festivities, markets, sporting events, children’s attractions and, of course, lots of oysters.
Arts Alive International Festival, Johannesburg
A celebration of dance, music, theatre and the fine arts, the annual Arts Alive Festival brings the arts to the theatres and streets of Johannesburg for ten eventful days in September. The buzzing, multicultural city is a perfect location for a festival of this kind, which draws local and international artists and spectators alike.
Rocking the Daisies Music and Lifestyle Festival, Darling
The line-up of this environmentally-minded music festival just gets better every year. 2013 saw international sensation Alt-J headline alongside the likes of The Hives, Skunk Anansie and the cream of local South African music. If you’re feeling energetic, get into the eco-friendly swing of things by walking to the festival.
Nedbank Golf Challenge, Gauteng
The country’s premier golfing event, which takes place at the world-famous Gary Player Country Club in Sun City, is an absolute must for golf enthusiasts. If your other half isn’t much of a golf fan, there’s also entertainment in the form of performances by musicians and comedians – and great weather to boot.