Now that the festive season is over, it’s time to start planning your social diary for 2019! Take advantage of the public holidays, and extend your leave days for long weekends in March, April, May, June, August, September and December.
Whether you’re planning a getaway or staycation, take a look at these exciting events and festivals in South Africa for 2019!
Sun Met Horse Race
26 Jan | Kenilworth Racecourse
The one event to see and be seen, socialites and fashionistas never pass up the opportunity to show off their outfits and dazzle at the annual Sun Met Horse Race. The theme for this year is African Luxury: Precious Metals, so grab your tickets and shimmy down to Cape Town’s most prestigious horse-racing event.
Up the Creek
7 – 10 Feb| Swellendam
One of the lesser-known music festivals in South Africa, Up the Creek draws a smaller and more sophisticated crowd to celebrate the best of local music along the beautiful banks of the Breede River. This 4-day festival features three stages, over 50 bands, and a river stage where you can float in your lilo all day to mellow beats.
9 – 10 Feb | Howick, Pietermaritzburg
Deemed the largest open-water swim in the world, the Midmar Mile attracts professional and recreational swimmers from around the globe to swim across the Midmar Dam in Howick, just outside Pietermaritzburg. Race categories include individuals, family teams and company relays.
Clarens Craft Beer Festival
22 – 23 Feb | Clarens Town Square
Clarens Village Square comes alive with music, live entertainment, delicious food stalls, kiddies play areas and, of course, award-winning craft beers flowing all weekend. Set against the beautiful Maluti Mountains, this is a wonderful event for the whole family!
Tickets are R130-R250.
27 Feb – 1 Mar | Artscape Theatre, Cape Town
Calling all creatives and designers seeking inspiration and networking opportunities. This highly sought-after event on South Africa’s creative calendar is a platform for emerging designers to rub shoulders with the best in the industry and showcase their talents. A series of talks, product launches, guest appearances, dance and music performances are on this year’s agenda.
28 Feb – 3 Mar | Greenhills Stadium, Randfontein
The ultimate family event for young and old, the Randfontein Show has been a favourite festival in South Africa for over 33 years! There’s a wealth of entertainment, including music performances by local celebs, thrilling rides, fire shows, puppet shows, wrestling, go-karting, and endless stalls filled with crafts, top-notch cuisine, and award-winning local beers and wines.
Tickets range from R80-R100 for adults (R35 children).
Ultra South Africa
1 & 2 Mar | Nasrec (JNB), Ostrich Farm (CPT)
One of the biggest music events to touch down in South Africa, Ultra features some of the world’s best EDM artists and DJs. This year, the line-up includes The Chainsmokers, Martin Garrix and Above & Beyond, performing in both Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Tickets start at R650.
Cape Town Cycle Tour
10 Mar | Cape Town
The most famous cycling event on the local sporting calendar is set to kick off on 10 March in Green Point. What started as a protest initiative in 1978 to include bicycles in the city’s urban planning has become a world-class event, attracting 35,000 cyclists of all levels and ages from across the world. Time to get those training wheels going!
15 – 17 Mar | Elgin Grabouw Country Club
Celebrating all things weird and wonderful, Bazique is a spectacle of art, music, and letting your free spirit run wild! An explosion of colour everywhere you look, there are six music stages, intriguing sculptures, performance art, fire dancers, circus and comedy, art boats, a starlit spa, and food trucks galore.
Tickets are now available from R650 and include a free camping pass.
Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK)
21 – 27 Mar | Oudtshoorn
The biggest street festival in Oudtshoorn rocks the laidback Klein Karoo once a year with artists, musician and theatre buffs filling the streets. Throngs of people flock to this major arts festival in South Africa to celebrate the best of local theatre and art. Be sure to book your accommodation in advance!
Cape Town International Jazz Festival
29 – 30 Mar | CTICC
Time to get down and jazzy with two days of exceptional jazz going down in the Mother City. A mix of international and local artists take the stage for the 20th year of honouring the greatest jazz musicians of all time. If you don’t have tickets to the main event, get a pre-taste of these performances at the free concert at Greenmarket Square.
18 – 22 Apr | Himeville, Drakensberg
KwaZulu-Natal’s most-loved and longest-running music festival is a celebration of people, music, art and life in the most beautiful setting on Splashy Fen farm in the Drakensberg. What a way to enjoy the long Easter weekend – with an incredible music line-up, family activities, wellness workshops, food stalls and friendly vibes all around.
Tickets are R830 for a weekend pass.
The Rand Show
19 – 28 Apr (dates may change) | Johannesburg Expo Centre
The biggest expo to take Joburg by storm for its 125th year, the Rand Show is all about catering to the living spaces and lifestyles of families. From gaming expos, circus acts and amusement parks, to fitness expos, creative living spaces and cook-offs, there’s plenty to see and do at this renowned festival in South Africa.
Two Oceans Marathon
20 Apr | Newlands, Cape Town
Locals and runners from around the world unite for this enduring and scenic sporting event along the Cape Peninsula. If you’re not up for the 56-km challenge, you can tackle the 21-km half marathon as well as the fun runs and forest trails below Devil’s Peak and behind UCT. Final entries close 18 March, so dust off those running shoes and get moving!
SA Cheese Festival
26 – 28 Apr | Sandringham Estate, Stellenbosch
Celebrated as a prominent festival on South Africa’s culinary calendar, this three-day cheese festival pairs together cheese and wine connoisseurs. The festival is filled with interactive food tastings, hand-crafted delicacies and live entertainment throughout the day. You can even try your hand at the daily cheese carving competition!
Tickets are from R180 pp (R20 children, R120 pensioners).
29 Apr – 5 May | Tankwa Karoo National Park
If you haven’t yet been to AfrikaBurn, it is one of those festivals you have to experience at least once in your life. A temporary city of art, music, theatre, costumes and tented camps is created for the week-long event. This year’s theme is Ephemeropolis, embracing a temporary way of living, so let your creativity run wild.
Tickets are from R1,895 for the entire week.
The Colour Run
TBC | Benoni
Prepare to be showered in vibrant colours at this annual fun 5-km run. The Happiest 5K colour run takes place throughout South Africa and in over 35 countries, and we sure know how to bring on the fun. Dress up or run in white – either way, you’ll cross the finish line in a rainbow of colour!
Whiskey & Gin Live Festival
2 – 4 May | The Lookout, Cape Town
For those who savour the finer things in life, the world’s largest whiskey festival is one for the calendar. Sample premium whiskeys, rums, vodkas and craft gins where the connoisseurs will demonstrate how best to enjoy these spirits. Sign up for the master classes where you get to rub shoulders with Master Distillers and ambassadors. Complimentary cheese boards and dishes are served throughout the evening to complement your tastings.
Pink Loerie Mardi Gras & Arts Festival
30 May – 3 June | Knysna
One of the most highlighted festivals in South Africa, the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras attracts people from around the world to paint the beautiful coastal town of Knysna pink. This colourful carnival is all about promoting unity and diversion within the community with fabulous entertainment, costume parades, performance art, exhibitions and shimmering parties.
Wacky Wine Weekend
7 – 9 June | Robertson
Over 40 wine estates and wineries from Ashton, McGregor, Robertson and Bonnievale showcase their award-winning wines, pairings, cuisine, cellar tours, craft markets and outdoor activities for a weekend of festive fun. The perfect winter warmer!
9 June | Durban
The 87-km marathon kicks off at the Durban City Hall, and runners cross the finish line at Scottsville Racecourse.
InniBos Arts Festival
26 – 29 June | Nelspruit
This arts festival welcomes over 100,000 visitors to Nelspruit to take part in and witness one of the biggest cultural festivals in South Africa. Performers and musicians showcase their talents and creativity over this 4-day event, which is filled with theatre, dance, food and crafts, beer gardens and children’s entertainment.
National Arts Festival
27 June – 7 July | Grahamstown
The most prominent arts festival in South Africa, the 44-year-old National Arts Festival draws an audience of over 200,000 visitors. If you’re not up for a long road trip to the festival, book your flights to PE or East London and rent a car or take a shuttle up to Grahamstown.
Knysna Oyster Festival
21 – 30 June | Knysna
Knysna’s coastline runs wild with foodies and families as they tuck into the freshest oysters and seafood. From comedy shows and concerts to shucking competitions and diving challenges, make sure you diarise this 10-day event along the scenic Garden Route!
Guesthouses fill up quickly, so book your Knysna accommodation in advance.
Vodacom Durban July
6 July | Greyville Racecourse, Berea
Even if you’re not into betting or horseracing, you can watch powerful thoroughbreds and fashionistas strut their stuff at Greyville Racecourse.
This is one of South Africa’s most prestigious sporting events, so book your accommodation in Durban ahead of time.
13 – 14 July | Franschhoek
Dust off your berets and don your finest French couture for Franschhoek’s most celebrated festival of the year. Sample the best wines of the valley and gourmet cuisine from celebrity chefs. C’est la vie!
Durban International Film Festival (DIFF)
18 – 28 July | Durban
Arguably the biggest film event in South Africa, the DIFF brings together around 400 filmmakers from around the world, featuring their thought-provoking films around African or South African subject matter. Screenings are held around Durban, and there are plenty of workshops and talks for aspiring filmmakers.
Slow Food and Wine Festival
9 – 11 Aug | Robertson
If you’re looking for an incredible farm-to-table experience in the countryside, make sure you diarise this gourmet festival. Set along the stunning Route 62, you’re invited to wine and dine with the winemakers in their homes and private cellars for a truly intimate experience of these farms.
The Family Market is free of charge, and experiences with the winemakers must be booked individually.
8 – 10 Aug | Northam, Limpopo
Oppikoppi is the pioneer of music festivals in South Africa. This once rock music festival now plays host to various genres of rock, punk, ska, folk, hip-hop, indie, jazz and more, attracting stellar line-ups of local and international artists. The festival also features socio-political stalwarts and comedians like Koos Kombuis keeping crowds enthused and entertained. Camp it or glamp it – it’s up to you!
Hilton Arts Festival
13 – 15 Sept | Hilton, KZN
The biggest theatre event in KwaZulu-Natal, the Hilton Arts Festival staged at Hilton College, is a spectacle of theatre, dance, music, art displays, and gourmet cuisine.
Umuzi Week of Festivals
20 – 29 Sept | Secunda
The Umuzi Waterfront transforms into a hub of festivities for ten days featuring a wine festival, Oktoberfest, local musicians, sports tournaments and the AquaZone Waterpark providing endless fun for the whole family.
21 – 22 Sept | Redberry Farm, George
Set off on a road trip for a weekend in George! Set against the stunning Outeniqua Mountains, there’s no better backdrop for this annual strawberry picking festival. Sweet surprises await with a Berry Bar, food and craft stalls, trail runs, live music, beer and wine tastings, outdoor kids park, pony rides, go-karting and plenty more.
24 – 29 Sept | Potchefstroom
Another stalwart of South African arts festivals, each year Aardklop is packed with music, theatre performances, visual art exhibitions, live talks and lifestyle events, all representing South Africa’s cultural diversity.
Cape Town Fringe Festival
TBC | Cape Town
Set to be back on track for 2019, theatre lovers should diarise this 2-week festival of fresh theatre, comedy, dance and music performances taking place at venues across Cape Town. See the most exciting, provocative and edgy theatre that’s unique to the Fringe.
Tickets start at R40, and many shows are free to the public.
Rocking the Daisies
4 – 6 Oct | Cloof Wine Estate, Darling
Darling rocks to the beat of local and international artists lighting up the stages at one of the largest music festivals in South Africa. Tickets start at R595 excluding an optional camping pass for those wishing to stay over.
4 – 13 Oct | Bloemfontein
A vibrant celebration of African and international music, Macufe offers up the best in jazz, rock, R&B, kwaito, classical and gospel music. Artists like Lira, Brandy and Lady Zamar have headlined this festival, putting Bloemfontein in the musical spotlight.
Cape Town International Film Market and Festival (CTIFMF)
12 – 21 Oct | V&A Waterfront
A cinematic feast of local and innovative documentary, feature and short films spanning multiple genres and cultures. From just R50 a ticket, you can catch any of the screenings throughout this 10-day film festival. Apart from the screenings, there are panel discussions, workshops, masterclasses and cocktail parties to attend, where you can rub shoulders with guest celebrities and aspiring filmmakers.
01 – 04 Nov | Silwerstroom Resort, West Coast
Nestled in the relaxing Silwerstroom Resort, this outdoor beach festival is rapidly climbing its way to the top of South Africa’s music festivals. With a smashing line-up of alternative and indie artists from South Africa and abroad, this weekend is all about sun, sea and great bands.
Early bird tickets are available from R600, including camping. Additional parking fees are payable on arrival – carpool for cheaper rates!
Ficksburg Cherry Festival
21 – 23 Nov | Ficksburg, Free State
Said to be the oldest crop festival in South Africa, you can look forward to cherry picking, baking competitions, cherry mampoer, farm tours, a golf classic, half marathon, off-road cycling, beer garden, and circus shows.
Mother City Queer Project (MCQP)
31 Dec | Tau, Cape Town
In reaching its 25-year milestone, there is always frivolous excitement around the theme and location of Cape Town’s annual MCQP. This is the perfect excuse to get your creative juices flowing and rock your best outfit as the gay community breaks all conventions in celebration of camaraderie and diversity.
30 – 31 Dec | Johannesburg
Get ready for the party of the year as Johannesburg fires up a frenzy of fresh talent and iconic artists from around the globe. Afropunk is where people come to free their mind, join a movement, and celebrate the African spirit.
Need more inspiration for a local getaway?
Check out these underrated places to visit and unforgettable road trips in South Africa!
Other festivals taking place around Africa
Marrakech Marathon – January
This world-renowned marathon attracts over 8,000 runners from around the world to take on the picturesque circuit lined with palm and olive trees, in Marrakech. Those who find the 42-km marathon a bit ambitious can conquer the half-marathon – an equally beautiful race.
Busara – February
A celebration of African music over four days in Zanzibar – this is one festival you need to be at! The biggest carnival parade hits the streets of Stone Town and musicians and performers go all out with brass bands, acrobats, capoeira, Mdundiko dancers and Maasai warriors.
Jazzablanca – April
Calling all lovers of jazz music – enjoy nine days of soothing jazz from street buskers and intimate jazz clubs to grand stages in the streets of Casablanca.
Bushfire – May
A weekend packed with entertainment, music, art, food markets, dancing and workshops, Bushfire attracts thousands of people from all over the world to camp out or glamp out under the stars in Malkerns Valley in Swaziland. The stage houses world-class artists from Africa and beyond for one epic weekend.
Mawazine Festival – June
Attracting the likes of Bruno Mars, Jamiroquai and The Chainsmokers, the line-up at this week-long festival is always incredible! Entry into the festival is completely free – you’d be crazy not to take advantage. All you need to do is book your flights to Rabat!
Rwanda Film Festival – July
Deemed one of Africa’s most prestigious festivals, the week-long Rwanda Film Festival takes place each year with screenings staged around Kigali and in other remote parts of the country.
Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) – July
A festival that brings people together in spirit and performance, the HIFA is a platform to learn, educate and celebrate Zimbabwean art in a challenging city like Harare. Performers from the USA, Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa and Finland collaborate with local artists to create a harmonious festival spanning six days.
Lake of Stars – September
This three-day event of culture and music from around the world gathers around Lake Malawi. From jazz and reggae to hip-hop and EDM, this is a music extravaganza for the senses. Other highlights include fashion shows, theatre, poetry slams, yoga sessions, beach volleyball and roller skating.
There you have it – the best events and festivals in South Africa and the rest of Africa for 2019! From small-town celebrations to world-class conventions and music festivals, be sure to diarise these festivities.
Which events will you be attending this year? Let us know in the comments below.