Cape Town‘s culinary scene is a collision of cultures. It is an incredible destination for foodies who want to sample South African specialities, sip on award-winning wine and experience the city’s gourmet food scene. The best way to experience the city’s culinary excellence is to attend some of the best food and drink festivals in the city.
Sink your teeth into South Africa’s street food culture at the popular Cape Town Street Food Festival where the concept is simple – if it can be served on a stick or in a bun, it’s on the menu. Hungry festival-goers can dine on much-loved South African classics like bunny chow – a dish that consists of hollowed-out bread filled with curry – treats from far-flung corners of the world and American-style corn dogs and hamburgers. Visiting this festival gives you the chance to experience Cape Town’s multiculturalism and the city’s food truck scene.
Dates: 2020 TBC (possibly cancelled due to corona)
Over the last ten years, the Constantia Fresh Wine and Food Festival has become one of the most prestigious wine events in South Africa. Set in the heart of Constantia – South Africa’s oldest wine region – at Buitenverwachting Wine Estate, the festival showcases more than 200 wines and offers a free glass to all ticket holders, plus the tastings and demonstrations. Visitors can sample award-winning vintage wines and gourmet food prepared by some of South Africa’s top chefs.
2021 Dates: TBC (usually held in February)
End Cape Town’s summer season by attending the SA Cocktail Week Festival. The event kicks off with a massive street party to celebrate the best of South Africa’s cocktail industry. Hop from one cocktail bar to the next and watch some of the country’s top mixologists flair, splash and dash their concoctions. If you want to do something more hands-on, you can attend the bar tours, cocktail masterclasses and enjoy half-price drinks at participating bars throughout the week.
Dates: 2021 TBC (usually held in February)
The South African Cheese Festival is the largest outdoor culinary event in Africa. Named the Cape Winelands Festival of the Year in 2018, it attracts more than 30,000 attendees each year. It’s held over the Freedom Day long weekend in April and offers a wide range of local and international artisanal cheeses. Each ticket includes access to tasting experiences, presentations by well-known food bloggers and chefs, a cheese-carving competition and a gourmet lane selling niche produce and local delights.
Dates: 24 to 26 April 2021 (2020 event cancelled)
Cape Town is the heart of South Africa’s gin culture, and in recent years the Mother City has exploded with bespoke distilleries infusing botanicals to curate a distinctly South African flavour. The Great South African Gin Festival is a two-day event that celebrates more than 100 gins from around the world and offers live cocktail demonstrations and presentations by industry experts. It’s the ultimate event for gin enthusiasts who want to add to their collections and savour outstanding craft gin.
Dates: 2020 TBC (usually held in May, possibly postponed due to corona)
For beer fans planning a trip to Cape Town, the city won’t leave you high and dry. There is a whole raft of microbreweries popping up serving up fruity brews, smooth lagers and spicy IPAs. The 10th Cape Town Festival of Beer is one of the most comprehensive beer festivals in the Southern Hemisphere. Over three days, attendees can taste more than 200 beers from international and local breweries. Find your new favourite lager, stout, ale, weiss and cider, and take home some of the limited-edition beers crafted especially for the festival.
Dates: 27-29 November 2020
Escape to the Cape Winelands for a weekend of culinary indulgence. The Stellenbosch Fine Wine and Food Festival is held in South Africa’s gourmet capital and offers nothing short of an incredible experience. Ticket holders have access to over 120 tastings from the region’s top winemakers and can choose from various cultivars such as Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Shiraz. Each wine is expertly paired with canapés prepared by South Africa’s top chefs.
Date: 1 August 2020 (potentially postponed or cancelled)
Riebeek Valley Olive Festival has been a firm favourite with local foodies since 2000. It’s the biggest olive festival in South Africa with vendors selling a variety of olive oils, preserves and beauty products. There are also masterclasses in olive oil tasting where participants can sample the best the valley has to offer. Besides the olives, there’s an excellent selection of wines from local cellars, craft beers, live music and long-table lunches with farm-to-table produce.
Dates: 9-10 May 2020 (event postponed due to coronavirus)
Located one hour from Cape Town’s Central Business District, Franschhoek is a premier culinary destination in South Africa. Home to century-old vineyards, the town hosts the popular Franschhoek Uncorked event – a highly anticipated annual food and wine festival. The Uncorked Weekend Pass gives visitors access to all participating wineries in the area and includes complimentary tastings. Each winery offers a different experience, whether it’s newly released wines, live music or novel food pairings. Make the most out of the event by booking a room in Franschhoek and make sure you have enough time to explore the region’s famous wineries like Boschendal and Babylonstoren.
2020 Date: TBC (usually September)
The Elgin Cool Wine & Country Festival celebrates all the gastronomic delights that the valley has to offer. The Art Deco-inspired Elgin Railway Market is the hub of the wine festival, where guests can fetch their passes and hop on to shuttles to participating wineries. Tailor the itinerary to your interests, and indulge in free wine tastings across the board. Wineries with restaurants use the event to show off their incredible farm-to-table menus, and there’s plenty of entertainment to keep the kids busy.
Dates: 2020 (event cancelled due to coronavirus – usually held end of April/beginning of May)