South Africa has a full calendar of festivals all year-round, many of which go hand in hand with traditional holidays, weekends, and observances. There are many South African music festivals, partly owing to South Africans’ love of music.
But there are also numerous festivals dedicated to other things. Food, wine, lifestyle – you can find a celebration to suit your interests if you look hard enough. This list is a good place to start.
Below is a list of some of the most interesting, family-friendly festivals you may want to look into.
South African Festivals for Families
Many of the festivals South Africa has to offer are based around some sort of tradition. Or at least have become traditions in and of themselves. Wine, olive and oyster festivals are based in regions they’re well-known for; The Whale Festival in Hermanus is scheduled around the migration and sighting of Southern Right whales, and so on.
It’s worth noting also that some of the best family-friendly festivals and events in South Africa double as a wonderful excuse to plan a weekend getaway. That’s because a great many of them are out in smaller, pretty towns.
So take advantage of Airbnb accommodation options or even Avis Car Hire if you’re flying across the country for a festival weekend. These annual events help boost the local coffers and offer visitors a chance to enjoy the far reaches of our amazing country.
Food and Drink Festivals in South Africa
South Africa’s rich food and drink traditions are widely celebrated. Here are just a few of the big kid-friendly festivals you should try to experience at least once.
- The South African Cheese Festival in Stellenbosch is a complete celebration of all things fromage, with celebrity chef demos, kids cheese carving competitions and more. Also, Stellenbosch is wine country, which means food and wine pairings are plentiful. Look for it around the end of April.
- The Knysna Oyster Festival is not just about shellfish. This huge event has expanded to include sports events like marathons and bike rides, and loads of other entertainment. The ideal winter weekend for the whole family, with something to do for everyone.
- The Hantam Vleisfees (Meat Festival) is a celebration of all things Karoo lamb – in this case, specifically Hantam lamb. The festival is held in Calvinia around late August, and you’re likely to find out every single thing there is to know about the meat and its uses. Throw in some strongman and chop-eating competitions, all-day kids entertainment, and some local-style country music, and you’ve got a meaty small-town weekend to talk about!
- The Riebeeck Valley Olive Festival gives you the chance to visit two towns – Riebeeck Kasteel and Riebeeck West. Anything that involves olives is found here. As a bonus, the area is known for its fine dining. The festival is actually hosted at multiple venues, so you can explore the towns at your leisure.
Music Festivals in South Africa
When it comes to South African music festivals, many of the biggest are great for music lovers but tend to focus on adults. Check out this list of music festivals in South Africa that are more sedate, day-focused or just plain suited to a family outing.
- Of the annual big music festivals South Africa has to offer, Splashy Fen in the Drakensberg is still the closest you’ll get to an all-ages friendly weekend camping experience. When you’re tired of all the music, you can retire to a campsite and sit around a bonfire, enjoying the company of your friends and family.
- Park Acoustics is a monthly day-long festival in Pretoria. It’s actually better described as a music day out in the park with picnic spaces, comedians and musical artists.
- The Cape Town equivalent of Park Acoustics is the occasional Concert in the Park Series in at De Waal Park. These happen on certain Sundays over summer, with vendors and hundreds of people sitting out on the grass. The park is dog-friendly as well.
Other South African Festivals
You’ll find a festival for most kinds of culturally relevant things in South Africa. The most notable among them are the Arts festivals, and here are some of the largest and easiest to navigate while searching for something to enrich the soul.
- The National Arts Festival is the official Arts Festival of the country. For two weeks over June and July, the university town of Makhanda (Grahamstown) is a hub of all things theatre, music, and dance, with stars in the making, and legends alongside. The whole town is transformed into a network through which to explore the state of South African Arts for people of all ages.
- Similarly, the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival in Oudtshoorn celebrates the Arts, this time with a focus on Afrikaans language works and visual arts.
- September’s Aardklop National Arts Festival in Potchefstroom also focuses on Afrikaans theatrical works, music, and visual arts.
- The Macufe African Cultural Festival is the fastest-growing cultural festival in the country. As the name suggests it is focused on indigenous African arts and culture but includes elements of sport, and a huge music component. It runs around the start of October in Bloemfontein.
- The Kirkwood Wildlife Festival may seem like an unusual suggestion, but it ticks all the boxes for a wide range of entertainment, plus a prime getaway location. This festival has the feel of an old county fair, complete with participation games, a live game auction, three days of music on stage and a Boerboel exhibition! Best of all, it’s held in the beautiful Sundays River Valley, which has numerous things to do in the surrounds as well.
Festivals are plentiful in South Africa all-year-round, and finding interesting and entertaining events to attend will seldom be a problem.
Hopefully, this list provides a great foundation around which to base a fantastic year of food, culture, and music that the whole family can enjoy.