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Posted on: Thursday, 1 May 2008

Cape Town Craft Markets

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Greenmarket Square

Greenmarket Square

Shopping is one of those small joys in life. Although there’s a lot to be said for the simple things in life that don’t require money, sometimes nothing makes you feel quite as good as buying some new stuff. That said, big shopping centres offer the same thing all over the world and finding something unique to an area is becoming more and more difficult. Craft markets have long been a part of Cape Town’s way of offering alternatives to mainstream shopping. Several markets exists, each completely different to one another, and each offering a special little piece of Capetonian lifestyle.

Greenmarket Square is arguably the most well-known of Cape Town Craft markets. Filled with African curios, handcrafted fashion and jewellery, this bustling hub of informal trading is in the middle of the Central Business District in Cape Town. Going to Greenmarket Square is an experience in itself. Don’t be surprised to find drummers, dancers and traders of all kinds in the cobbled square that houses the market. Be warned, however, the traders are vociferously friendly and learning a few of the golden rules will stand you in good stead.

  1. Always look through the whole market before buying anything as prices vary greatly amongst traders.
  2. Never look particularly interested in anything. A glimmer of interest is like the kiss of death to a potential bargain.
  3. Always say you have very little money on you. Flashing cash around only serves to remind a trader just how special and unique his wares are.

With that in mind, soak in the market experience, and see what treasures you can find.

Rondebosch market is a slightly different affair. Situated in a leafy park in the suburbs, this craft market is the antithesis of Greenmarket’s market buzz. It’s a sleepy family-orientated market with a mix of regular stalls, focusing mainly on pottery, craft and homemade baked good. It’s relaxed and prices are reasonable. If eating pancakes on the grass while the kids play sounds like a great lazy Saturday afternoon then this one’s for you.

Craft Markets

Craft Markets

The Holistic Fair is the place to go for everything New-Age. Taking place on the first Sunday of every month, here you can have a massage, consult a psychic and have a healthy lunch, all in the same place. There’s plenty of interesting things happening too, including Tai Chi, Yoga and Capoeira demonstrations. It’s a good place to go to find some of the more unusual of Cape Town’s offerings. Uniquely South African essential oils or consultation with a traditional African medicine woman for instance.

The Neighbourhood Goods Market in Woodstock is the place to be if you like good food. Gourmet organic fare is the order of the day and there are some truly amazing products to be had. Wandering round the market while retro, jazzy classics play on the record player is a therapeutic experience. Taste a little wine, pesto or geranium infused chocolate from the many taste testers available. The market is situated in a complex of buildings known as The Old Biscuit Mill, which also house an interesting mix of galleries and decor shops so you can browse the whole day away. The only provision for this delightful market is to make sure you take enough money!

The Milnerton Market is a law unto itself. In fact, part of the attraction of going to the market are the traders themselves. From sun-bronzed old ladies in bright 80s inspired sportswear hawking bathroom accessories to large, beefy men with handlebar moustaches selling used electronic equipment, the mystical inhabitants of the market will always keep you entertained. At Milnerton market, you never know what you’re going to get. You may end up with rare porcelain purchased for a song. Alternatively a trader may have convinced you that their little knick-knack is an antique of rare value when really it’s a Chinese import. Whatever the case, more often than not the items have some kind of history. An ancient set of doctors saws used for amputation, a sword used by the hordes of Genghis Kahn? The the wild & entertaining storytelling of the traders makes this a bizarre bazaar worth checking out.

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