Autumn, and early winter, in Cape Town is the city’s secret season. It’s the time of year the city is at its best – the sun just warm enough to seek out a patch of sun in which to bask, yet a mackintosh is a pre-requisite to surviving the day (brollies, if you’re interested, are a waste of time given the winds that can accompany any rain in Cape Town).
Most of all it’s the time of year when leaving the house requires a major incentive. We’ve lined up a series of motivators to help get your nose out of a book, your butt off the couch and your body out of doors.
Here are the best events in Cape Town and the surrounds this autumn and winter…
27 APRIL – PINK LOERIE MARDI GRAS, KNYSNA
From Wed 27 April until Sunday 01 May is the Garden Route’s gay pride celebration, considered one of the freshest and most exciting LGBTI celebrations in the world, with its ‘Young at Heart and Never Been Kissed’ theme for 2016. Knysna virtually shuts down for five days of shows, entertainment, pageants and other over-the-top festivities.
This year includes a mass same-sex wedding for sixteen selected couples, officiated by Knysna’s mayor. The Parade and after-party fall on the final weekend.
29 APRIL– LAMBERT’S BAY CRAYFISH FESTIVAL
One of the West Coast’s best loved towns, Lambert’s Bay holds a three-day kreef, or crayfish, celebration to coincide with the end of the crayfish season (November to April). Locals, and visitors, descend in their droves, bibs in hand, to twist and separate the tails from the crayfish with the best of them.
Expect some of the top Afrikaans music, a range of craft stalls, and seafood until you can stomach crayfish, paella, mussels and oysters no more.
29 APRIL – DECOREX CAPE TOWN
Set to clash with the seafood extravaganza up the West Coast, this show-stopper décor, design & lifestyle weekend reveals cutting-edge trends and fills the CTICC with inspiration for anyone wanting to re-imbue their home with new life.
Expect furniture, kitchens, bathrooms, fabrics, décor accessories, lighting, and outdoor living. It’s a DIY wannabe’s idea of utopia.
30 APRIL – SA CHEESE FESTIVAL, STELLENBOSCH
Three days’ worth of cheese is an invitation to anyone swept up by the foodie culture that now grips the world. Engaging and connecting over food is one of the most satisfying ways to spend your time.
This engaging farm-to-table event not only dishes up the cheese, it also accompanies it with music, a carnival, and a meander (demonstrations in the Cape Made Kitchen).
07 MAY – RIEBEEK VALLEY OLIVE FESTIVAL
Voted the Best Tourism Event by the West Coast Tourism Awards, this festival celebrates everything related to the humble olive. From olives to olive oil and anything else inspired by the fruit.
Paired with wines of the area, local beer and food, and live entertainment, this event promises to be a gourmet affair worth dedicating the entire weekend to.
13 MAY – FRANSCHHOEK LITERARY FESTIVAL
Books, books, authors, authors, discussions, spirited debates, one-on-one conversations, book readings, workshops and the odd talk.One of the Cape’s most historical village’s plays host to bookworms, publishers and authors, journos, writers and the odd literary legend.
Coupled with music, dinners and recitals this is one weekend you won’t want to miss.
20 MAY – GREYTON GENADENDAL CLASSICS
An interesting weekend of music played in a couple of historic churches in Greyton and Genadendal, and other smaller venues in both towns, promises an interesting lineup: performances from young, up and coming musicians and singers; opera; symphony orchestra; baroque music by the Camerata Tinta Barocca; the Cantique Chamber Choir; and a gala concert with baritone Johannes Slabbert, and soprano Noluvuyiso Mpofu.
The highlight is an alternative version of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
26 MAY – GOOD FOOD & WINE SHOW, CAPE TOWN
On at the CTICC, this is four days of gourmet events aimed directly at Cape Town’s foodies. It includes interactive theatres, cooking workshops, renowned international and local chefs and interactive kitchens.
This year includes an urban farming corner promoting sustainable food production.
02 JUNE – ROBERTSON’S WACKY WINE WEEKEND
Fine wine, dining, food, outdoor adventures, kiddie-related activities and a new coupon system for free tastings of over 40 wine farms and boutique producers make this 13th edition one you shouldn’t miss.
10 JUNE – HERMANUS FYNARTS
A feast of writing, painting, ceramics and drawing workshops in venues that range from local art galleries and church halls to wine farms, the Hermanus Fynarts is a celebration of the arts, food and wine.
With talks, demonstrations, tastings, exhibitions and performances, FynArts is 10 days’ worth of fine art.
25 JUNE – TULBAGH’S CHRISTMAS IN WINTER
For all of those who yearn for a white Christmas, even if the snow is merely a dusting on the peaks of surrounding mountains, Tulbagh in June is the place to head.
Christmas lights, trees, traditional Christmas dinners – complete with turkey and Christmas pudding, Father Christmas and plenty for the kids to do make this a festive affair.
02 JULY – KNYSNA OYSTER FESTIVAL
The ‘best 10 days of your winter’, the Knysna Oyster Festival stretches across two weekends of sport activities that include a half marathon and two-day cycle tour, fun and oysters.
Between the weekends are a feast of mid-week events like geocaching, a Navigation Drift Dive Challenge, the Pick n Pay Fun Event for the disabled, and the Night of 1000 Pictures.
16 JULY – FRANSCHHOEK BASTILLE FESTIVAL
A vibrant mix of food and wine down Main Street, this is a weekend of white, red and blue, berets, wine tasting and gastronomic delights in the Bastille Food and Wine Marquee (at the Huguenot Monument), the Bastille Festival Market at BICCCS (think homemade and artisanal),and the Food and Wine Hall (in the Town Hall).
This annual experience of the French Corner of the Cape scooped the 2014 KLINK Crowd Pleaser Award.
As these are all very popular events, it is advisable to book your accommodation well in advance to avoid dissapointment. Visit the Cape Town Accommodation pages to find guest houses, Cape Town hotels and self catering apartments, and for additional info about Cape Town and the Western Cape which includes attractions and Things to Do.