2016 has brought with it more than its fair share of ordeals, so it’s highly likely that even those who are not usually big fans of New Year’s Eve (I include myself in this group) are more than looking forward to celebrating 2017 with something akin to gusto. For anyone planning a celebration, here is a list of the best places to be on New Years Eve in South Africa…
Cape Town’s version of Time Square, the V&A Waterfront, creates a carnival atmosphere with street performers, live music, buskers, Zip Zap Circus performers and a firework display. There are food trucks and caterers as well as all the usual restaurants, pubs and bars. But be warned: traffic at the V&A is a nightmare. Use the MyCiTi bus, Uber or park at the Silo garage at the Clock Tower.
KIRSTENBOSCH NEW YEAR’S CONCERT, CAPE TOWN
This year’s New Year’s Eve Concert, just one of a series of summer concerts in the beautiful gardens’ amphitheatre, sees Johnny Clegg take centre stage (his son, Jesse Clegg, sings for guests a little further up the drag at NYE Boschendal Farm Estate in the Winelands), supported by new pop rock band Slow Jack.
The picnic-style concert attracts hundreds of South Africans who spread their blankets over the grass for the 7pm start. The concert brings in the new year, and is due to end just after midnight. Book at Computicket.
CLIFTON 4TH BEACH, CAPE TOWN
Candles in brown paper bags weighed down by sand, a packed picnic and a willingness to walk all the way back up to the road once you’ve had enough of the sand and the laid-back atmosphere (that’s provided you managed to find a parking spot in the first place). Any of the sheltered Clifton beaches are popular for New Year’s Eve for those opting for a quieter version of New Year’s Eve.
TABLE MOUNTAIN, CAPE TOWN
You won’t be ringing in the changes from atop the table on New Year’s Eve, but you can be one of the last down on the final 9pm cable car, having watched the sun set over the ocean with panoramic views from Camps Bay and the harbour, to the Tygerberg hills and the Cape Flats. Sun sets after 8pm, but give yourself plenty of time to get up there to select the perfect view. Book through Webtickets.co.za .
NEDERBURG WINE ESTATE AND THE CAPE PHILHARMONIC, PAARL
For those after a more sedate New Year’s Eve bash, away from the madding crowds, the Nederburg Wine Farm forms the backdrop for the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra and an all star lineup that includes Brandon October, jazz artist Melanie Scholtz, Sterling EQ (an all-woman crossover ensemble) and opera duo Goitsemang Lehobye and Given Nkosi.
The traditional concert under the stars will start at 9.30pm with laidback classics and old style charm. Pack a picnic and get there early enough for a good spot (no tables or chairs as these obstruct others’ view). There is a bus service from the Artscape Theatre. Tickets at Computicket.
KINKY SUMMER NEW YEAR’S EVE FESTIVAL, FRANSCHHOEK
This year the carnivale-themed Kinky Summer NYE party is set to be their best one yet. The lineup promises acrobatics, an open-air cinema, a huge pool and three dance floors featuring DJs from across the world. The La Paris, Franschhoek based party promises a place where imagination and whimsical delight are cherished and nurtured, and offers transport to and from the venue. Visit the kinkysummer website for tickets.
REVOLUTION NEW YEAR OPEN AIR MUSIC FESTIVAL, MAGALIESBERG
This celebration of unity, by Jo’burg’s ‘underground dance music community, happens in the Magliesberg at Hornbill Lodge. Revolution live band festival considers itself an international community of bands, organisers and audience where live shows are what it’s all about.
The three day open air festival hosts two outdoor stages – the main stage (psytrance, progressive, full-on), and an electronic stage – a bar and restaurant, swimming pool and Tent Nation Hotel. Tickets at webtickets (earlybird and limited prices already sold out).
THE SMOKING DRAGON NEW YEAR’S EVE FESTIVAL, ‘BERG
At Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge, In the foothills of the Drakensberg, experience three days of unbelievable music, and adventure, with a crowd of like-minded music lovers. Over 40 acts, and four stages there is even VIP camping for those who prefer hot showers, flush toilets, self-catering kitchens and restricted numbers. Visit smoking dragon.org for tickets.
What began as an unusual, little, feel-good event in a tiny town, in the middle of the Eastern Cape, has become a showstopper that attracts participants from all over the country. Nieu Bethesda’s gravel roads are the stage for an inspiring community event.
Everyone makes a spectacular lantern at a workshop at the Art Centre, or they make one for you, and after a performance there is an evening parade through town beneath the stars to celebrate New Year. Join locals for a braai afterwards at the Bethesda Arts Centre, accompanied by a live band and dancing. Contact the Arts Centre for details.
BALLITO NEW YEAR’S EVE STREET PARTY, NORTH COAST
Described as ‘South Africa’s most famous street party’, Ballito NYE is the biggest and loudest New Year’s Eve party this side of Durban with four dance floors and a number of well-regarded DJs. Ballito NYE tickets went on sale on 10 November and are already 50% sold out. Follow links from the Facebook page.
For those of you for whom a party, noise and revellers are anathema, then it’s to the bushveld for you – where wild game and the gentle sweep of the savanna, long sunsets and only the sound of birds will accompany a low-key, more gentle approach to the new year. We recommend: Addo Elephant National Park, Kgalagadi Transfrontier park, Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Park and iSimangaliso wetlands Park.