2021 Events and Festivals in South Africa Leave a comment

Estimated reading time: 14 minutes

Now that the festive season is behind us and we eagerly look forward to getting life back on track, let’s take a look at which events and festivals in South Africa are still taking place this year.
Our beloved Mzansi has always been quite the hub of social activity, dazzling locals and tourists alike with everything from music festivals to sports tournaments and celebrations of food and culture. Make the most of your long weekends and plan some memorable little trips!

January

Jazzathon

Jazzathon has been cancelled for this year.
As we all know, there is no shortage of events and festivals in South Africa. The Jazzathon is a Cape Town institution that is considered a precursor to the Cape Town International Jazz Festival. Pack a picnic basket, grab a camping chair and make your way to the iconic Waterfront for African sounds, great camaraderie and guaranteed frontier family fun. You are more than welcome to bring drinks to sip on as you settle down to be wowed by some of South Africa’s top jazz musicians.
Anyone in the know will tell you the Jazzathon is unmistakably African, utterly enjoyable and most importantly, free of charge! Shows run daily, but get there early to secure a great seat!

Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts

Image credit: @jess.and.tayla via Instagram
The Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts have been cancelled for this season. 
Say HELLO to summer by treating yourself to a Summer Sunset Concert at Cape Town’s absolutely breathtaking Kirstenbosch Gardens. Choose from heaps of the best artists South Africa has to offer and gear up for sundowners with a show! Upcoming concerts include Mi Casa, AKA, Don Vino and Lady Zamar to name but a few. Tickets sell out fast, so be sure to book in advance!

The Pinot Noir Celebration

The Pinot Noir Festival has been postponed to 2022.
Calling all winemakers, aficionados, lovers and drinkers. The Pinot Noir Festival celebrates South Africa’s beloved premium export wine and offers one-of-a-kind tastings, networking opportunities, conferences and more. If the sound of celebrating wine, over a bottle of wine, by learning about wine tickles your fancy, book your pass and make your way to the picturesque Hemel-en-Aarde region of Hermanus for an experience par none!

February

Up the Creek

Image credit: @josh_f9 via Instagram
Up the Creek has been cancelled for this year.
Make your way to Swellendam for South Africa’s second-longest-running outdoor music festival! At 30 years running, Up the Creek has hit an incredible milestone and, as such, promises to deliver four days of excellent music and camping realness. Whether you prefer roughing it or glamping, Up the Creek caters to your every nature-loving whim. Book your spot, pack your weekend life into the boot of your car and gear up for an epic weekend!

Clarens Craft Beer Festival

Dates TBC | Clarens Village Square
Music, live entertainment, food and craft beer. The things champion weekends are made of! Head for cosy Clarens for a fun family day trip or just a day with the crew. The Clarens Craft Beer Festival celebrates its 11th anniversary this year and, as such, promises a celebration of note! Go ahead, spoil yourself!

Design Indaba

The Design Indaba has been postponed to 2022.
Lauded the “best design conference in the world”, tickets to the Design Indaba in Cape Town are worth their weight in gold. Every year creatives, designers, writers, artists and the like flock to Cape Town for networking and specialist conferences on design, design thinking, innovation, creative leadership, design activism and much more. It’s not difficult to see why these tickets are so sought after.

Ultra South Africa

Image credit: @de.z.zi via Instagram
Dates TBC | Ostrich Farm (CPT) & Nasrec (JHB)
Needing no introduction, Ultra South Africa is one of the biggest electronic music festivals to grace our shores. The stellar line-up includes the likes of DJ Black Coffee, Steve Aoki, Dash Berlin, Afrojack and more. Tickets sell out faster than most music festivals. Don’t miss out!

March

Bazique

13 March | Elgin Grabouw Country Club
Imagine Woodstock, reimagined. Trade in the mud and drugs for glamping, food trucks, spa days and starlit nights. Boasting five stages, some of which are beach facing, Bazique offers festival-goers a truly unique experience. Take part in enjoying anything from art exhibitions and fire dancing to silent discos and a starlit spa! Book tickets and get to glamping with ease.

Midmar Mile

13 – 14 March | Howick, KwaZulu-Natal
Welcome to the world’s largest open-water swim event! Whether you’re a professional or a novice, the Midmar Mile has something for you to flap your flippers to. The swim takes place at Midmar Dam in Howick, just outside Pietermaritzburg and is open to anyone from children to the most seasoned swimmers. Be sure to be on the lookout, chances are you’ll run into one or two swimming legends so be sure to remain selfie-ready at all times. The Midmar Mile definitely tops the list of events and festivals in South Africa, in our book!

Cape Town Cycle Tour

14 March | Cape Town
The race is set to take place on 14 March 2021, dependent on national restrictions. Cape Town Stadium will once again become the rendezvous point for local and international cyclists alike. The tour kicks off in the shadow of the majestic Table Mountain and this year’s tour takes a slightly different route at only 50% capacity. The Cycle Tour has always provided a unique way of seeing Cape Town’s breathtaking beaches and, weather permitting, offers cyclists views of Robben Island as well.

Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK)

23 March – 6 April | Oudtshoorn
Once a year, thespians, musicians, art students and theatre lovers fill the streets of Oudtshoorn for a fun-filled celebration of art, music and culture. Be sure to book your accommodation in advance!

Randfontein Show Food & Music Festival

The Randfontein Show has been cancelled for this year. 
Treat the whole family to a day of funfair rides, glorious food, live entertainment and much more. The Randfontein Show has been wowing festival-goers for more than 30 years and continues to do so with a lineup that includes Early B, Nicholas Louw, Kurt Darren, Sky Ocean, Tanya V and many more South African entertainment veterans.

Cape Town International Jazz Festival

The Jazz Festival has been postponed to 2022.
Cape Town’s biggest Jazz festival takes place annually at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. As usual, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival is complemented by a free concert in Greenmarket Square and heels and mules give way for comfortable walking shoes as tourists take to the streets to mingle with locals and hit up local karaoke bars. Last year’s line-up included Abdullah Ibrahim, Lira, Ndlovu Youth Choir, Lady Zamar and many more internationally acclaimed artists. We look forward to having this festival on our shores again next year.

April

Two Oceans Marathon

3 April | Cape Town
Gear up for one of the most scenic half and/or full marathons around! The Two Oceans Marathon sees a whopping 30,000+ runners taking part in this absolutely Capetonian event. Choose to take on either the 56km ultra-marathon or the 21,1 km half-marathon, either way, you deserve bragging rights! You can also choose to run for charity and make every step count.

The Rand Show

7 – 12 April | Johannesburg
The Rand Show in Johannesburg truly has something for everyone. Check out anything from how to optimize your living space to expos on health and wellness, live music and much more. This year’s show will be divided into zones dedicated to food, entertainment, lifestyle and retail, and much more. This one is definitely not to be missed!

Pink Loerie Festival

23 – 27 April | Knysna
Welcome to Knysna Pride! Celebrate queer pride with a flourish at the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras. Paint the town pink with flamboyant outfits, drag shows, live music, dancing, great food and more. Yes darling, its pride.

SA Cheese Festival

24 – 26 April | Stellenbosch
Foodies unite and get ready for a culinary journey. Make the most of your long weekend in picture-perfect Stellenbosch as it comes alive with patrons enjoying good food, cheese, wine, beer, gin and more at the SA Cheese Festival. Live music sets the mood for ambience abuzz with full tummies and happy people. Secure your tickets and get discounted rates for children.

Comic-Con Cape Town

24 – 27 April | Cape Town Stadium
Calling all nerds and superfans! Comic Con is coming to Cape Town. From 24 – 27 April, Cape town will be awash with cosplay, gaming merchandise, comic book art and plenty more. The best of pop culture, comic book culture and literary classics will come alive at both Comic-Con, as well as KidsCon! Ever wondered what fandoms your children and/or partners are into? Take them to Comic-Con and find out! Make a day of it, and walk away with a cool t-shirt or two. Sound like a plan? Book a day or weekend pass. To infinity, and beyond!

May

Huawei Joburg Day in The Park

This event has been cancelled for this year. 
The Johannesburg Botanical Garden becomes the backdrop to the Huawei Joburg Day in the Park. Pack a picnic basket and make a family day of it. This festival is about enjoying the best of timeless South African hits in a scenic venue, surrounded by people you have fun with.

June

Comrades Marathon

13 June | Pietermaritzburg
This year’s Comrades Marathon kicks off at the Pietermaritzburg City Hall and finishes at Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban. At 90 kilometres, this down-run promises to be quite the event.

Innibos Festival

30 June – 4 July (TBC) | Nelspruit
Next stop: Nelspruit! Nestled among hills and waterfalls, Nelspruit sets the scene for the Innibos Festival which is yet another famed opportunity to celebrate South African culture through music, theatre, dance, food and more.

July

Grahamstown National Arts Festival

July | Grahamstown
This year marks the 46th Grahamstown National Arts Festival. Boasting both a physical and online audience this year, the Grahamstown National Arts Festival is one of the more prominent art festivals and draws quite the crowd of theatre and music heavyweights. Book your flight to PE or East London and take a scenic drive up to Grahamstown. If you’d prefer to watch from your lounge, many parts of the festival will be streamed online.

Knysna Oyster Festival

2 – 11 July (TBC) | Knysna
The picturesque Garden Route beckons! Make your way to the quaint, seaside village of Knysna for a 10-day long Oyster festival that includes shucking competitions and seafood taste explosions! Be sure to book accommodation in advance as guesthouses and hotels fill up rather quickly!

Vodacom Durban July

3 July | Greyville Racecourse
As always, it’s right there in the name! The Vodacom Durban July will, yet again, be a shining beacon on many a social calendar this year. Book your Durban accommodation in advance and head to the races for a day of glitz, glamour, bubbles and cameras.

Afropunk

Image credit: @jess.and.tayla via Instagram
10 – 11 July | Constitution Hill Johannesburg
It’s the ultimate celebration of Africanism! Afropunk never ceases to wow attendees with world-class artists, colourful fashion, and displays of culture and African pride. The likes of Solange, Sho Madjozi, AKA, Masego, Busiswa and more have graced this iconic stage, so be sure to book your tickets and accommodation way in advance as this is a festival favourite for people the world over.

Free State Wine Show

July (TBC) | Bloemfontein
Wine, glorious wine! Bloemfontein once again hosts the annual Free State Wine Show and promises decadent tastings, pairings and interesting choices for purchase.

Bastille Festival

July (TBC) | Franschhoek, Cape Town
Time to get in touch with your inner avant-garde, and don your best French attire. Wine, gourmet dining, haute couture and more await you at the Bastille Festival in luscious Franschhoek. Make sure you book your accommodation in advance!

August

Winelands Chocolate Festival

29 – 30 August | Stellenbosch
Calling all sweet tooths and chocoholics! You can expect a mouth-watering line-up of the best chocolates, brownies, macarons, doughnuts, the creamiest ice cream and the fluffiest candyfloss to tease your taste buds with. This two-day event is the perfect family day out with loads on offer, including face painting, a movie lounge, craft beer and live music for all to enjoy.

September

Hilton Arts Festival

10 – 12 September | Hilton, Durban
Hilton College in Durban plays host to the biggest theatre even in KwaZulu-Natal! Treat yourself to a cascade of colour as art students and thespians alike put on a show of theatre, dance, music, culture, cuisine and lots more.

Splashy Fen Music Festival

23 – 26 September | Pietermaritzburg
Head for the Splashy Fen Farm in Pietermaritzburg to experience South Africa’s longest and oldest running music festival. Choose from five different stages and family-friendly activities like camping, food stalls. Weekend passes include discounted rates for children.

Comic Con Africa

Image credit: @uzairparker via Instagram
23 – 26 September | Johannesburg
Book your flights to Johannesburg, secure your accommodation and head for Comic Con Africa! It’s guaranteed to be a bonafide adventure filled with merchandise, screenings, panel discussions, cosplay and more. Tickle your nerd fancy with celebrity sightings and once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities.

Aardklop

28 September – 3 October | Potchefstroom
Another one of South Africa’s beloved art festival institutions, Aardklop kicks off in Potchefstroom and guarantees an array of theatre performances, music, and food.

Hermanus Whale Festival

September | Hermanus
Once again, the seaside village of Hermanus opens its doors to tourists from far and wide for the annual Hermanus Whale Festival. As far as events and festivals in South Africa go, whale watching has fast become a social occasion. Get ready to watch the majestic Southern Right whales return to their home in southern Africa as you gear up for a day of good food, wine, interactive eco-marine exhibits and more. Book your Hermanus accommodation in advance and make a little getaway of it!

Klein Karoo Klassique

TBC | Oudtshoorn
Make your way to the slopes of the Outeniqua Mountains for a lovely little Oudtshoorn excursion. Dates for the Klein Karoo Klassique are yet to be confirmed, but you can look forward to good food, great wine, art exhibitions, live music and more. Why not take a scenic road trip along Route 62? If flying is more your thing, book a flight to George and make your way to Oudtshoorn from there.

October

Rocking the Daisies

1 – 3 October: Cape Town | 2 – 3 October: Johannesburg
Registration to buy a Rocking the Daisies festival and camping pass has officially opened! Get ready for one of the biggest South African outdoor music festivals. Dubbed “The African Coachella”, Rocking the Daisies has been wowing festival-goers with some the best local and international artists for 15 years.

Cape Town International Film Market & Festival (CTIFMF)

TBC | V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
If you’re a film student, videographer, drama student, actor or just enjoy playing around with your camera, the CTIFMF offers an invaluable learning opportunity as well as screenings of cutting-edge film & drama, panel discussions, masterclasses, workshops and more. The festival also offers an opportunity for filmmakers to submit their work for viewing and culminates in an awards ceremony which gets published.

November

Cherry Picking Festival

November (TBC) | Ficksburg, Free State
Dates for this long-running crop festival are yet to be confirmed, but be sure to leave your calendar open for the Cherry-Picking Jazz Festival in the Free State this year. Indulge in cherry mampoer, craft beers, great food and live shows.

December

Mother City Queer Project (MCQP)

December (TBC) | Cape Town
One of the more celebratory events and festivals in South Africa, this themed party is a homage to the New York queer ball culture that paved the way for LGBTQIA+ rights everywhere. The exact date, time, venue and theme will be announced closer to the time, but be sure to leave space in your December itinerary. Dress up, whip out the glitter, get your wig snatched, nails did and party the night away!

Suidoorsterfees

December | Artscape Theatre, Cape Town
The Suidoosterfees is a melting pot of theatre, music and captivating conversation. Watch the best of Cape Town talent tell truly Cape Town stories through performance art and music. This Artscape tradition also gives talented hopefuls a platform to showcase their art. Think you have what it takes? Sign up for the Suidoosterfees talent search! Be sure to doublecheck the show you are booking!
That’s it for this edition of “how to boost your social itinerary”! Grab your crew and get planning! We have flights, accommodation and car hire covered. All you need to do is book your tickets and get there!
We urge you to adhere to our national health and safety protocols at all times. Events are likely to change at short notice due to Governement restrictions and national lockdowns.
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All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart will not be held liable for loss or inconvenience resulting from the use of out-dated or incorrectly noted information.
 

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