Cape Town's Best Festivals

Get into the party spirit in Cape Town, with a year-round selection of festivals and celebrations, from parties in the park to celebrating fine wines on the waterfront.

Dress to the nines for the most glamorous horse-racing session, raise your arms in the air at a concert in the park or party with the LGBT crowd at Cape Town Pride. Whenever you head to the city, there's always a party waiting for you.

Maynardville Open-Air Theatre Festival

January-February: Each summer sees the performances of a chosen Shakespeare play, performed in the 500m2 wooded park with a 720-seater theater. Come before the show for a picnic on the lush lawns. Celebrate the Bard in a leafy setting.

J&B Metropolitan Handicap

Last Saturday in January: South Africa’s major horse-race meeting at Kenilworth Race Course, much loved by the city’s wealthy, glitterati and fashion junkies. The first race took place in 1883—now around 50,000 attend in the picturesque setting, and where everyone is expected to dress up. There’s plenty of TV coverage for the fashion and social events. www.jbmet.co.za

J&B Met Handicap, Cape Town

Cape Town Pride

February-March: The biggest gay event in town, which first took place in 2001 and is now a major tourist event. The region has seen an immense transformation of attitudes regarding LGBT rights, and Cape Town is regarded as South Africa’s epicentre of gay culture. Pride takes place over 10 days with arts events, parties and a beach picnic, culminating in floats and a parade around Green Point and a lively street party in De Waterkant. www.capetownpride.org

Pride Cape Town

Cape Town Carnival

March: A fabulous and extravagant 1km procession of floats, dancers and musicians along Somerset Road in Green Point between De Waterkant and the Cape Town Stadium followed by a street party with local DJs. Cafés and street vendors serve snacks and beverages along the route. In just a few years since its conception, this has become one of Cape Town’s most popular annual events. www.capetowncarnival.com 

Cape Town International Jazz Festival

April: Held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), where five stages host a huge array of local and international jazz artists, and on one night there’s a free concert in Greenmarket Square. This celebrated event now attracts in excess of 30,000 people. www.capetownjazzfest.com

Top acts at Cape Town Jazz Festival

May: Held at the Cape Town Cricket Club in Green Point next to the Cape Town Stadium with stalls and marquees, some of the city’s top gourmet restaurants showcase their food; buy a book of coupons and a wine glass for tastings. www.tasteofcapetown.com

V&A Waterfront Wine Affair

May: At this annual celebration of the region’s wines, the famous waterfront showcases the best, on the water’s edge. You can taste more than 350 wines from dozens of Western Cape estates, plus gourmet food from participating V&A Waterfront restaurants. www.waterfront.co.za

Cape Town Food & Wine Festival

Cape Town Fashion Week

August: Runway shows at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) showcase young and established designers from across Africa, which conclude with a dazzling display of evening wear. The sponsor, Arise, is a stylish magazine on African fashion. www.africanfashionint.com

Cape Town International Kite Festival

October: Africa’s biggest celebration of kite-flying on Muizenburg Beach with acrobatic kite displays, giant inflatables, craft market, kiddie rides, kite-making workshops and food stalls. An excellent family day out. www.capementalhealth.co.za/kite

Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts 

December-March: Taking place every Sunday afternoon, from approx 5.30 pm, the concerts at the botanical gardens vary from rock, folk and jazz to classical and opera, by local and international acts. This is a perfect way to enjoy the gardens with a picnic on the lawns and surrounding grass banks, and if you don’t want to bring your own food, order a basket from the Kirtenbosch Tea room. www.sanbi.org

Concerts at Kertenbosch Gardens 

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