Best festivals in South Africa

Cheese set on stand at street food festival in city. Photo: Adobe Stock

Here’s our pick of South African festivals you don’t want to miss in 2020

Before we blink and it’s December again, perhaps it’s time to prioritise some of South Africa’s most popular festivals for 2020.

Best festivals in South Africa

Cheese set on stand at street food festival in city. Photo: Adobe Stock

It may already be nearing the end of February, but with summer in full swing, there’s no better time to start planning your weekend diary, coinciding with as may public holidays as possible, obviously.

As with all things travel, sometimes planning is half the fun and so we’re happy to provide you with the ultimate festival “cheat sheet”. With the dates in front of you and the 2020 calendar still wide open, there’s no reason not to pack it all in and tick off some of our country’s most popular festivals this year. 

For literary lovers

A celebration of books and writers. Be sure to add both the Knysna Literary Festival (6 to 8 March) or the Franschhoek Literary Festival (15 to 17 May) into your diary.

The Franschhoek edition is aimed at bringing together a broad cross-section of South African and international authors while inspiring, informing and challenging local audiences.

The events take place across a variety of village venues, all within a few minutes’ walk of each other, creating a vibrant ambiance in the picturesque streets of Franschhoek.

Photo: Adobe Stock

South African Cheese Festival

The South African Cheese Festival (25 to 27 April), at Sandringham outside Stellenbosch, best fall over your next cheat day! Discover an exciting selection of everything cheese, including well-known local and international brands and unique artisanal creations. 

Add to that everything that could possibly complement cheese – from wine to beer, gin and bubbly … plus live local music and you pretty much have a recipe for ultimate weekend happiness. 

Photo: Adobe Stock

Fête de la Musique

The annual Fête de la Musique originally started in France and is now held in 700 cities across 120 countries, including our very own Newtown, Johannesburg (6 June).

Open to musicians from all music genres, the aim is to celebrate live music and provide a platform for up-and-coming talent. This is free music at its finest hour.

Photo: Adobe Stock

The Knysna Oyster Festival 

It’s no wonder thousands flock to the Knysna Oyster Festival (26 June to 5 July) every year. Dubbed as one of the best outdoor family and community events in South Africa, competitors can take their pick from the Pick n Pay Cape Times Forest Marathon or the Pick n Pay Weekend Argus Rotary Cycle Tour as the headline events.

And for the rest of us? Let’s cheers to team spirit and a weekend of all things delicious along our beloved Garden Route.

Photo: Adobe Stock

Hermanus Whale Festival 

The annual Hermanus Whale Festival (24 to 27 September) is a celebration of the great privilege of southern right whales returning to our beautiful coastline.

All the events and activities taking place during the whale festival are focused on creating awareness on how to best protect the whales and all our marine wildlife that share our shores. The festival takes place in September which is peak whale season in South Africa.

The whale-watching town of Hermanus. Photo: Adobe Stock

The Bloemfontein Rose Festival

The Bloemfontein Rose Festival (16 to 18 October) is an annual tradition which started back in 1976, thanks to the appropriate naming of Bloemfontein as the “City of Roses”.

Attracting thousands of visitors and rose lovers from across South Africa every year, come and enjoy this colourful spectacle of roses and related events.

Photo: Adobe Stock

The Ficksburg Cherry Festival

Calling all cherry lovers! Be sure to catch the annual Ficksburg Cherry Festival (20 to 21 November). It’s the oldest crop festival in South Africa, hosted in Ficksburg, which boasts being the “cherry capital of the world”.

A packed programme of events each year has really put this festival on the map and from the Cherry Jazz Festival to a Cherry Bowls Tournament and live cooking demos, there’s seemingly not a lot you can’t do with cherries this side of the world.

Photo: Adobe Stock