• Bitten by the whale watching bug Bitten by the whale watching bug We don’t realise how lucky we are in South Africa, and in particular the Western Cape, to have the mightiest of the marine mammals visit our coastline between every year ...
  • The Whale Trail The Whale Trail The Whale Trail is not a new trail, having been around since about 2002, but it has become extremely popular. It is truly a unique experience, perhaps comparable with ...
  • 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa Combine your trip to South Africa with a relaxing, revitalising visit to a health spa and experience Africa at it's finest. Our favourite 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa are ...
  • Locals share their favourite getaways Locals share their favourite getaways We ask 30 local South Africans to share their favourite holiday destinations and getaways with us. From the more popular destinations like Knysna and the Kruger Park to ...
  • The Oude Skip hike The Oude Skip hike The Oude Skip walk shares portions of its hike with the larger Karbonkelberg Traverse, which is roughly seven hours of hard walk from Hout Bay harbour to Llandudno ...
  • 10 Amazing Game Lodges 10 Amazing Game Lodges South Africa is world renowned for her game reserves and wildlife. The lodges which allow us to experience these in luxury are no less awe inspiring. Our favourites are ...
  • 101 Things to Do with Kids in Cape Town 101 Things to Do with Kids in Cape Town As much as your kids will tell you they can’t wait for the school holidays, the words "I’m bored" inevitably cross their lips. Our "101 things to do with kids in Cape Town" will ...
  • "World's most beautiful Cities" "World's most beautiful Cities" Open space makes Cape Town special. Renowned English sea navigator Sir Francis Drake once referred to Cape Town as the fairest cape in the world. The city houses the ...

Find Accommodation in South Africa
Subscribe to our Feed
Posted on: Thursday, 29 May 2008

The Grahamstown Festival

Send to Kindle

For the current National Arts Festival Programme please see National Arts Festival Programme.

Grahamstown Festival

Grahamstown Festival

It was opening night and adrenalin and lack of sleep were fueling an unhealthy intensity in the house we were staying in. We had arrived in Grahamstown after a ten hour drive which ended with the actors in the back seat trading more elbow jabs and knees to the midsection than in a Thai kickboxing match. We were in Grahamstown, a small town in the Eastern Cape, for the National Arts Festival, a highlight on South African arts circuit occuring at the end of June/ beginning of July every year.

The first thing to know about Grahamstown is that it is absolutely freezing, which only seemed to give the theatrical types more reason for hysteria and mayhem, little dramatic dynamos generating their own internal sources of heat. For the rest of us proper winter clothing is essential. Stretched over about 10 days, the festival is a melting pot of the most brilliant, creative and utterly strange things the country has to offer.

At the central market, which serves as the hub for the daytime activities, you’ll be accosted by everything from half-naked hypnotists and hardselling Hare Krishnas to actors evangelising about why their particular play will change your life. The market is also home to a cornucopia of traders selling everything from didjeridoos to cures for arthritis, so it’s a pefect place for unusual gifts.

Grahamstown Festival

Grahamstown Festival

The theatre experience is divided between the Main programme and the Fringe programme. The Main programme features the cream of South African theatre and is a sure-fire way to get down to some serious theatrical appreciation. The only way to describe the Fringe experience is to liken it to shopping in a antique curio shop. There are hundreds of strange and bizarre little theatre trinkets to choose from. Some of them are unique and valuable while others are useless junk.

Like antique shopping, however, the only way to find out which is which is to browse thoroughly. Whether comic, tragic or just plain incomprehensible, the Fringe programme is the place where old theatre conventions are broken and new theatre trends are made. Whatever the merits of the plays, young talent is inexorably drawn to experimental nature of fringe theatre and it can be a showcase for the raw passion that is theatre’s lifeblood. You have been both encouraged and warned!

Food is an important commidity wherever you go, but no more so than when the temperatures drop toward zero.

Hearty, hot food is a lifesaver at the festival and one of the best places to enjoy it is at the Long Table. The Long Table is a bit of an institution at the Festival, situated in an old hall and filled with, yes, long tables, the restaurant looks more like a soup kitchen than a place of fine dining. The food, however, is great and it’s a wonderful place drink wine and rub shoulders with the actors and theatre types. Ensure you have a colourful scarf nonchalantly thrown around your neck and a fedora positioned low on your head and you’ll fit right in.

Destination Info:
Grahamstown National Arts Festival
More Information and dates: Grahamstown National Arts Festival
Overnight: Acommodation in Grahamstown
Accommodation Eastern Cape
Eastern Cape Hotels
Eastern Cape Events

The Grahamstown Festival is a must-see. It combines a comfortable, folky, community atmosphere with the excitement of creative passion and cutting-edge theatrical innovation. Make sure you give it a visit!

The SA-Venues.com Team


Photographs, posts and articles filed under "The SA-Venues.com Team" are either very old articles (this blog has been going since 2005!), are a combined effort or have been submitted to us by a third party, the name of which is/should be displayed in or below the actual article. Special offers and general event posts are also found here as they are generally a team effort.

Related Posts: