Durban Botanic Gardens trail of Lights

The Durban Botanic Gardens will once again be ablaze with millions of lights for the annual Trail of Lights. Image:

Spotlight on South Africa’s best and brightest Christmas light displays

In these dark and unprecedented times, here’s where to see the light(s) this festive season.

Durban Botanic Gardens trail of Lights

The Durban Botanic Gardens will once again be ablaze with millions of lights for the annual Trail of Lights. Image:

Twinkling lights are an enduring image that brings cheer during the festive season. Here are four light displays worth checking out.

Durban Botanic Garden Trail of Lights

You can experience the festive spirit from 11 to 30 December at the iconic Durban Botanic Gardens. An incredible amount of lights — one million — will be on display. The organisers promise that 2020’s display will be brighter than ever before — literally!

Sticking to all COVID protocols, this event is family-orientated and the lights can be seen throughout Africa’s oldest surviving botanical garden.

Cost: R60 for the 20:00 show, R70 for 19:00 show and R80 for 18:00 show.

For more information, visit

Tickets are available online only at Webtickets.

Joburg Zoo Festival of Lights

Joburg zoo festival of lights

The second annual Festival of Lights, held in association with the City of Johannesburg, starts tonight 10 December. The display may be viewed until Sunday 3 January at 19:00.

Patrons can enjoy a tranquil walk in the zoo along a designated lit route away from the animals and under trees decorated in enchanting lights. This festive event boasts illuminated, life-size animal characters and offers a delightful night out at the zoo for all ages.

The following entertainment will also be on offer at the zoo on its Festival of Lights programme:

  • 8-13 December: Contemporary Dance – Art of Dance
  • 15-20 December: Tribhanghi Indian Dance Company
  • 22-27 December (except 25 December) Programme 5 – Singing Christmas Tree with Sempre Opera and Choir
  • 31 December to 1 January: Festive Market
  • 31 December to 3 January: Shef & the Kitchen, Bongi and iComplete

Tickets are available from Webtickets.

Cost: R150 for adults, R75 for children aged three to 12, R90 for pensioners.

The Esplanade on East London’s beachfront

santa orient express

Humid December evenings allow for a stroll by the beach and an ice cream treat while driving through the old CBD through Quigney to the Orient Beachfront.

It’s free and the lights are fun, with the city’s main beachfront transformed into a Christmas spectacle. You can also park your car and walk around, adhering to safety and COVID-19 protocols, of course. Previous years, children could also ride for free on the popular Santa Orient Express.

Drive through Adderley Street, Cape Town

The Grand Parade is usually the spot where the Mother City’s lights are “officially switched on” each year.

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, Capetonians will not be able to enjoy the open-air event in 2020. However, you can still drive through the CBD and pass the pretty lights as you pass by.

Public spaces like the V&A Waterfront and Kirstenbosch Gardens are also decorated in stunning lights.