Your guide to South Africa's very best yearly attractions
Diversity is for many an appealing and often crucial element of any holiday; and few countries provide this in quite as spectacular and varied a fashion as South Africa. The natural beauty of its stunning Cape, Table Mountain and safari havens are understandably well documented. Where else in the world, after all, can you find such an eclectic fusion of wildlife and vibrant city culture? What people may tend to overlook, however, is the packed roster of annual events and activities held throughout the year, serving to enhance a holidaymaker’s visit to this magnificent country.
South Africa is a vast and sprawling vista, but wherever you plan to visit, HomeAway Holiday Rentals has the place for you. Offering spacious, comfortable and above all affordable South Africa accommodation, we will help you find the perfect base for your dream holiday, regardless of what you hope to gain from the African experience. Whether it’s music, nature or culture that floats your boat, why not take a look at our guide to the top five events worth checking out across the course of the year?
South Africa's greatest events
Hermanus Whale Festival
Located south of Cape Town on the Western Cape of the country, Hermanus is a picturesque coastal town overlooking the mighty Atlantic Ocean. Each year swathes of eager tourists descend on Hermanus, determined to witness the arrival of the southern whales that congregate in its waters at the end of September. You can view these magnificent creatures from the cliff that towers over Walkers Bay, or you can stroll along the pier, binoculars in hand, to chance your luck. Alternatively, get up close and personal by taking a boat trip into the bay. As the night closes in, the town itself comes alive, with a concoction of restaurants, bars and clubs to keep you entertained.
Stellenbosch Wine Festival
If you’re looking for the ultimate experience in South African sophistication, you needn’t look farther than the Stellenbosch Wine Festival. The town thrives on wine production and takes this annual opportunity to showcase its finest export to the visiting world. Tourists can sample a vintage selection of wine and gourmet food throughout January and February. Professional chefs from the region and beyond pit their culinary skills against each other in a spate of cooking competitions, and you can bask in the colourful splendour of the Harvet Festival and Parade, where local bands provide the entertainment.
National Arts Festival
The oldest, biggest and most nationally renowned festival of its kind in South Africa, the National Arts Festival is held every June in the Eastern Cape city of Grahamstown. Spanning ten days, the festival offers visitors the opportunity to experience a wide range of national music, comedy, drama and visual arts. The festival originated in 1974 and has, over the decades, become renowned for its diversity in a country so often divided by race. No censorship has ever been imposed on those involved, making this quite simply the greatest and most poignant celebration of unabridged South African culture available.
The Splashy Fen is South Africa’s longest-running music festival, but considering its inaugural year was as recent as 1990, it’s still a comparative fledgling when held up against its international siblings. That said, the Easter weekend event has managed to establish itself as a mainstay of the country’s cultural calendar year in, year out ever since. Thousands of revellers descend upon a farm just outside Underberg in the east of the country, soaking up three days of alternative rock and folk music, but with enough variation to cater for anyone’s tastes. Ladysmith Black Mambazo is just one name to grace the festival’s proud list of artists from days gone by.
Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts
At the other end of the musical scale are the Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts, held over the course of five months between November and April each year. The main aspect that sets this festival apart is that the music itself only occurs on Sundays, with the cream of South Africa’s crop performing in the stunning surroundings of Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Packing your wellies probably won’t be necessary for this one: you're more likely to see groups of friends unrolling their picnic baskets and uncorking wine for an altogether more sophisticated festival experience. What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than relaxing in the shadow of the glorious Table Mountain, enjoying some of the country's best live music?