January | Up the Creek
January 28 – 31
Up the Creek is a laid-back music and comedy festival along the Breede River, where the magic takes place. With stages on land and on the river itself, this small-scale festival offers a good selection of blues and indie-rock bands in addition to showcasing some of the country’s best comedians. Set out in a camp environment, there are plenty of communal barbecues, great food and cold drinks throughout the festival. Be it splashing around in the river or floating around on an inflatable bed, the festival guarantees good music, a friendly ambiance and a chance to rub shoulders with the locals; nothing short of a fun, sun-soaked summer weekend.
February | Cape Town Art Fair
February 19 – 21
A true global art capital, Cape Town was announced the World Design Capital of 2014 following the city’s demonstrated commitment to use art and design as a means for social and economic development. The exciting art and design program kicks off with the annual Cape Town Art Fair, which brings together leading art galleries and offers a perfect snapshot of the contemporary art scene in South Africa. With more than 40 notable galleries exhibiting such as the Goodman Gallery, Stevenson and Everard Read, the Art Fair will once again feature the artwork of over 100 influential and emerging artists from South Africa and the African continent at large. The fair will also include dialogues and interviews with artists, and various talks and performances.
March | Splashy Fen
March 18 – 21
Over the long Easter weekend, the Splashy Fen Music Festival will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year. Held on a farm, against the scenic backdrop of the southern Drakensberg Mountains, festival-goers are treated to an impressive music program, fun outdoor activities and luxury camping under the African sun. There is also a superb selection of high-quality and original food and craft stalls. A family-friendly festival, Splashy Fen offers a spectacular relaxing and fun getaway in the last weeks of summer. This year’s early additions include local artists such as modern folk musician Jeremy Loops, musical phenomenon Chris Chameleon and Durban-based band Gangs of Ballet.
April | Cape Town International Jazz Festival
April 1 – 2
Showcasing more than 40 local and international artists, the much-anticipated Cape Town International Jazz Festival is back with yet another fantastic line-up. This year, the festival’s five stages will welcome international artists such as Erykah Badu, Haitus Kaiyote, and Chris Dave and the Drumhedz, and South African stars Mi Casa and Jimmy Dludlu, amongst many other famous and up-and-coming musicians. Recognized as the largest music gathering in the region, it attracts more than 30,000 spectators each year. As tickets are in high demand and are sold out quickly, the festival also hosts a free outdoor community concert in Green Market Square in the center of Cape Town.
May | AfrikaBurn
April 25 – May 1
Operating along the same principles as the legendary Burning Man event in the US, AfrikaBurn is an exceptional festival of music, art and performance and takes place in the semi-desert of the Tankwa Karoo. Each year, a community of volunteers provides imaginative entertainment, gives gifts and takes part in this special participant-created event promoting radical self-expression and limitless creativity. Nothing is on sale at the festival except for precious ice, and there is no space for commercial interests or advertising, firmly promoting the idea of giving without expecting anything in return. Bring a tent or caravan, food and water and a personal dose of creativity, and contribute to the temporary world of art, sculptures, theme camps, burning structures, costumes, music and performances in the heart of the Karoo.
July | South African Book Fair
July 31 – August 2
Returning to Johannesburg is the South African Book Fair (previously in Cape Town and was known as the Cape Town Book Fair), the book fair will continue to be a premier literary and publishing platform, bringing authors, publishers and book enthusiasts under one roof. More than 250 exhibitors from over 30 countries will once again make their way to the southern tip of the continent to take part in sub-Saharan Africa’s largest and fastest-growing international book fair. The event is an interesting, unique opportunity to get an insight into the South African and African literary world, meet and listen to renowned book authors and speakers, and learn about the publishing industry. The book fair is a must for the book-loving public at large.
July | Durban International Film Festival
July 16 – 26
Every year, South Africa’s sunny east coast city hosts the Durban International Film Festival, the country’s longest-running film festival. Over 250 screenings of the best of contemporary cinema will be showcased, including feature films, documentaries and short films with a strong focus on South African and African cinema. Extensive workshops and seminars run by film industry experts will also take place during the festival. The screenings will take place in venues across the bustling city, as well as in selected township areas where there is an absence of formal cinemas. Last year’s awards went to the Japanese feature film The Land of Hope, the American documentary Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story, and the South African short film The Brave Unseen. This year’s festival promises another excellent selection of films.
Multiple venues across Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
August | OppiKoppi
August 7 – 9
OppiKoppi is one of South Africa’s biggest festivals, with seven stages and more than 100 acts. Every year about 20,000 enthusiastic fans make their way to the OppiKoppi farm, ready to brave three days of camping in the wild and beautiful Limpopo landscape and experience a spectacular music festival. OppiKoppi started as a rock festival, but has evolved since its inception in 1994 and now offers a diverse variety of music from rock and pop to electro, kwaito and South African house music, appealing to a much wider audience. The festival welcomes South Africa’s top bands as well as emerging international artists. OppiKoppi signifies ‘on the hill’ in Afrikaans and the festival is a truly amazing experience to enjoy the best of South Africa’s diverse music talents in an untamed, laid-back setting.
September | Pick n Pay Taste of Jo’burg
September 24 – 27
A Taste of Jo’burg, sponsored by Pick n Pay, is a much-loved food exhibition, which offers a remarkable four-day exhibition of the country’s finest food and drink in the Johannesburg metropolis. The exhibition will include demonstrations by the city’s top restaurants and chefs who will design and serve sample-sized signature dishes, using seasonal and premium ingredients. There will also be dozens of displays and stands by local restaurants, niche food exhibitors, artisan producers, premium drink brands and award-winning wineries, and interactive cooking programs. Scheduled to start a day after South Africa’s National Heritage Day, the expo contributes to the theme of bringing people together and celebrating the country’s diverse culinary offering. A taste of Jo’burg is an unbeatable treat for any dedicated food lover.
October | Two Oceans Hermanus Whale Festival
October 2 – 4
The only South African festival combining the environment and arts, the Hermanus Whale Festival is an extraordinary festival featuring creatures of the deep sea on center stage. Welcoming thousands of visitors, the four-day festival is packed with performances from over 20 musicians, great food and wine, quality crafts, sports events, and much more. Hermanus, a small seaside town about an hour away from Cape Town is known as one of the best land-based whale watching destinations in the world and the festival takes place during the peak whale watching season, when the Southern Right whales return to the waters of Walker Bay with the arrival of spring. Mark the dates and do not miss this incredible opportunity to get a glimpse of the lives of these majestic marine giants in the midst of a music and arts festival.
November | Old Mutual Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts
November 7 – 28
At the foot of Cape Town’s majestic Table Mountain, the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden features a superb series of special summer walks. A local pastime in the hot summer months, the gardens offer a unique convivial setting to meet up with friends, picnic on the luscious lawns and enjoy live performances by favorite local artists and bands.
By Lilian Diarra