Dancer Mamela Nyamza Image via Katty Van Den Berghe

Former NAF Featured Artist and outspoken arts activist Mamela Nyamza premieres ‘Pest Control’ at the 2020 festival
Image via Katty Van Den Berghe

Watch the National Arts Festival from anywhere in the world

Happening entirely online from 25 June to 5 July 2020, the National Arts Festival is doing something brand-new due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Dancer Mamela Nyamza Image via Katty Van Den Berghe

Former NAF Featured Artist and outspoken arts activist Mamela Nyamza premieres ‘Pest Control’ at the 2020 festival
Image via Katty Van Den Berghe

Not in South Africa right now? For the first time in its history, you can watch shows from anywhere in the world at the National Arts Festival in Makhanda.

Happening entirely online from 25 June to 5 July 2020, the festival is doing something brand-new due to Covid-19 restrictions. 

However, it has left many old-time “Grahamstown festival” fans scratching their heads: just how am I going to experience vNAF?

Here is an introductory “How To …” to navigate this year’s cultural feast.

How to…buy tickets and watch shows

There’s lots to see – browse the daily programme pages to find out what’s on and decide what to see.

There are different ways to watch and engage with the events on the Virtual National Arts Festival line-up. There are curated programme options, a Virtual Fringe (vFringe) and online art galleries – there is even an online shopping space at the Virtual Village Green! Keen to connect? Join one of the many webinars and workshops.

Curated programme

Buhle Ngaba in "Swan Song"
Actress Buhle Ngaba will appear in the new piece ‘Swan Song’ at the National Arts Festival. Image: Supplied
  • A day pass at R80 will unlock all the curated programme events on a particular day. Save money by choosing more than one daily pass – the price per day goes down as the number of days goes up.
  • You will be able to buy a Standard Bank Jazz pass at the discounted rate of R500, which will give you access to all jazz events over the festival.
  • You will also be able to buy tickets for individual events from R35 per event.


  • Video on Demand tickets start at R25 per event. You can buy tickets to any number of events on the vFringe – look out for specials and promos offered by vFringe artists.
  • You’ll need to buy tickets to vFringe live streamed events on the platform they’re being screened on – the festival will provide a link for you.

Visual art and the Virtual Village Green

  • Access to all digital galleries and stalls is free. Look out for loads of other free things including webinars, talks and debates.

How to buy tickets

If you decide you want to buy an excellent value-for-money pass, head on over to the BUY page. Add what you want to your basket and complete the checkout process. You will be able to pay for your tickets with your credit or debit card, Snapscan or instant EFT through PayGate.

You can also buy tickets to individual shows on the Curated Programme – click the “Buy Ticket” button on the event page and it will be added to your basket. Once you’ve added all the items you’d like to watch, you can checkout and complete the transaction.

And then …

  • You will be able to pay for your tickets with your credit or debit card, Snapscan or instant EFT through PayGate. 
  • Once you’ve paid, you’ll receive an email with a list of what you’ve booked and/or you can log onto your customer profile page where your booked events will be listed. 
  • You can click through to any event to start watching – just click on the “play video” icon on any recorded item you’ve chosen, and it will play. If you haven’t paid for it, it won’t. Simple as.
  • Make sure you add once-off live performances from the curated daily programmes into your diary or calendar. 90% of live events are recorded so you can catch them afterwards but a few are exclusively live – so if you miss those, you miss them.

When can I view?

  •  You get a total of FIVE views per show. If load-shedding starts mid-performance, or the mother-in-law calls, or the phone battery dies – you’ll be able to click on the link and watch from the start again. And, if you see something that blows your mind, you can watch it again with your significant other. You have until 16 July 2020 to view the events.
  • You’ll be able to share what you’ve loved so other people you know can see what they’re missing out on! Once they’ve bought a ticket, they will be able to enjoy the show.

How many devices?

  • Your log-in can’t be used simultaneously on two devices. So, while you’re watching a dance video on your phone, your son won’t be able to do the Creativate workshop you’ve booked for him on his PC – he has to wait until you’re done.
  • You can browse and shop on one device and watch on another – as long as you’re logged in on that device. So, you can shop on your phone and watch on your smart TV – or you can shop and watch on your phone – up to you.
  • The festival organisers have tried as hard as possible to make content as data-friendly as possible without compromising the work. As an estimate: one hour of streamed content = 1 Gigabyte.
  • If you get stuck, contact its friendly helpline – you can “chat” online at any time between 7am and midnight or you can call between 9am and 10pm on 0860 002 004.

vFRINGE and On Demand Shows

All shows on the vFringe are sold as individual tickets (and are not included in the passes). 90% of the proceeds of these tickets go to the artists themselves.

Browse the events, choose what you want to see, add the shows to your basket by clicking the “Buy Ticket” button. Once you’re done, pay for your shows – and watch them at any time that suits you!

How to watch webinars and workshops

All webinars and workshops on the Curated Programme are free. You don’t need a ticket but you do need to register.

The festival will be using Zoom for all webinars and workshops. If you’ve never used Zoom before, first download and install the software – it is free to use. If you don’t download the software ahead of time, you will be prompted to do so when you open the link to join the webinar.

  • Webinars: You can enter the webinar 10 minutes before the start. You will be able to see and hear the panellists but they won’t be able to see or hear you so you need to use the Q&Abutton at the bottom of your screen to ask questions or comment.
  • Workshops: Workshops have a limited capacity and are interactive – that means that all participants can be seen and heard. You will need a device that has a camera and microphone. Once you are in the workshop, your host will explain how to use the Zoom controls for that particular session. 

You will receive a reminder  of the webinar or workshop you have booked one hour before the live event is due to start – you can use the link on the reminder email to join the event. 

Most webinars and workshops will be recorded and may be watched after the live-streamed event.