Events and Festivals

South Africa’s 5 Most Popular Events

Updated Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Every year, South Africa hosts hundreds of exciting events; ranging from sports matches and dances to theatre and art exhibitions. Locals and tourists flock to the various locations around the country in which these events take place, because they showcase the talents and abilities of this gloriously diverse land and its people.

Here are five of the most popular events in South Africa, based on their annual attendance, as well as on their influence within the event and media circles.

South Africa’s 5 Most Popular Events

The Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (WC)

The KKNK, as it is more commonly known, is a festival dedicated to the Afrikaans culture. It includes live performances of music, dance, comedy, theatre, literature and art. Artists and experts that are well known in the South African circles frequent the KKNK, making it well attended by those wanting to share in the local flavours and fads.

The festival lasts for nine days and usually takes place at the end of summer in the Karoo town of Oudtshoorn. Although Oudtshoorn generally enjoys a quiet ambience typical of such a small town, it comes alive over this time, when tens of thousands of visitors flock into it to be a part of the exciting festivities of the KKNK.

The Comrades Marathon (KZN)

The Comrades Marathon sees athletes from all over the world come to the humid epicentre of KwaZulu Natal to compete in this 90 kilometre route between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.

This race is set apart by beautiful views and a challenging course, but also by its commitment to upholding a sense of camaraderie amongst those running the marathon. In 2012, more than 19 500 runners participated in the Comrades, and the streets and city were filled to the brim with spectators, media, family and friends.

The Grahamstown National Arts Festival (EC)

Every winter, the tiny university town of Grahamstown is chock-a-block with people of all ages that have come to appreciate every form of art, craft and talent imaginable. The live performances happen all day, every day – giving visitors ample opportunity to indulge in some real South African culture.

Thousands of stalls, littered throughout the town, showcase the talents and flavours of South Africa, inviting visitors to indulge themselves in some real treats. Due to their popularity, those planning to watch the scheduled shows need to book tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.

The Sardine Run (KZN)

Every year, between June and August, hundreds of thousands of small silver sardines pass the South coast of KwaZulu Natal as they make their way to the Southern Cape for the purposes of spawning.Incredibly, the sardine shoal can reach up to about 30 kilometres long. Predators know what a unique opportunity this is to get a massive feed in, so the sardine shoal does not travel alone. Rather, there are hundreds of dolphins and sharks around them, snatching up greedy mouthfuls of this protein-rich meal.

In addition, thousands of gannets plunge into the water from the sky and prey on the fish just below the surface of the Indian Ocean. People from all around gather to see the spectacle of this dark marine cloud moving towards the Cape and followed by sharks, dolphins and gannets.

The Pick n Pay Argus Cycle Tour (WC)

Usually known simply as The Argus, this cycling race is acclaimed around the world for its challenging route, beautiful scenery and all-round success. It covers 109 kilometres of the exquisite Cape Peninsula and is limited to 30 000 competitors, many of whom have travelled from other countries with the express purpose of participating in this event.

Approximately 70 charities benefit from this event every year, making it a socially responsible cause to support.

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