Winter 2018 festivals to experience around SA
While we tend to associate summer with fun events, South Africa is keeping things hot and happening this winter with an array of festivals taking place all across the country.
Whether you're a foodie, a film buff, a culture vulture or enjoy quaffing alcoholic beverages, there is something for everyone - PLUS we have a Traveller24 top tip for each.
So, whip out those calendars, gather your friends and start planning!
Centred around the Little Karoo town's rich dessert wine production culture, the Port & Wine festival is an absolute celebration for the senses, featuring a gourmet food market, secret dinners and music events. The historical Calitzdorp Railway Station serves as the venue for the main festivities, while Boplaas, De Krantz and Calitzdorp Cellars also host a number of events.
Different events have different cover charges and some require pre-booking, so be sure to check out the programme to plan your stay.
Traveller24's top tip: Take some time out on Saturday or Sunday morning to take a little drive further along the famed Route 62, maybe pop into Diesel and Creme in Barrydale for a milkshake or head to the Cango Caves just outside Oudsthoorn
READ MORE: 10 Unique Route 62 experiences
- KZN Philharmonic Orchestra Winter Season, Durban 14 – 28 June
The KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra is currently running its 2018 Winter Season at Durban’s Playhouse Opera Theatre, featuring a line-up of top local and international classical musicians. Click here for the full programme.
Satisfy your passion for classical music at the Winter Season shows that form part of the Orchestra’s World Symphony Series launched in Durban 22 years ago. Season tickets and booking for individual concerts can be purchased through Computicket.
Traveller24’s top tip: There are a number of events happening in Durban in June. Click here to find out which other events you can attend while visiting the warm east coast.
- National Arts Festival, Grahamstown 28 June – 8 July
If you're into arts, culture, drama and dance, chances are good that you're well acquainted with the 'Grahamstown festival' as it is affectionately known. Spread over 11 days, this year's festival is jam-packed with performances, exhibitions, installations, craft markets, lectures and workshops, some forming part of the Main programme and others, the Fringe.
The National Arts Festival is of great historical importance, as it served as an important forum for political and protest theatre during the height of the apartheid era.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: A complete guide to gear up for the National Arts Festival 2018
Traveller24's top tip: Bundle up! It gets icy cold in Grahamstown during winter months, so make sure you have a pair of warm boots, a padded rain-resistant jacket and a woolly beanie.
- Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival, Knysna 29 June – 8 July
Whether you're into food, wine, adventure, culture, just chilling or all of the above, the Knysna Oyster Festival has something to float your boat.
A quick squiz through this year's programme reveals events as varied and exciting as a Bubbly, Oyster and Chocolate Experience, a Whisky & Jazz Cruise, a SASSI fish braai, forest hikes, nightclub dash, forest marathon and a comedy show, to name but a few. In between you can expect to have a ball of a time, as the entire Garden Route opens its arms in welcome.
There is no overarching cover charge for the festival, so make sure which events you want to attend/participate in beforehand so you can plan and book.
Traveller24's top tip: Knysna gets crazy busy during the festival and chances of finding affordable, comfortable accommodation are pretty slim. Look at the outskirts - Sedgefield, Wilderness, Plett and George - for alternatives.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: 10 days of adventure at the Knysna Oyster Festival
- JBay Winterfest, Jeffreys Bay 2 – 17 July
With the JBay Open forming the backbone of the event, the Winter Fest is set to draw surf enthusiasts from all corners of the globe.
However, it's not only about surfing! Other events on the programme include a mountain bike race, a surf event and loads of informal festivities happening at restaurants and bars across the town.
Head to the JBay Winterfest Facebook page for updates on events
Traveller24's top tip: If you're only going for part of the festival, don't set your heart on seeing some spectacular surfing. Often days go by without any action as organisers and contestants wait for good waves.
- Slow Food & Wine Festival, Robertson 3 - 5 August
The 12th annual Slow Food & Wine Festival is ready to take over the Robertson Wine Valley from 3 – 5 August offering festival-goers an immersive and indulgent foodie experience.
Food and wine enthusiasts will get to savour the flavours of the countryside at their desired leisurely pace. Each experience must be booked directly with the host at robertsonslow.com. There’s also a Family Market on the Sunday, free of charge for all to visit.
Traveller24's top tip: While you’re there, be sure to check out some boutique wineries in the area boasting delicious wines and breathtaking views.
- Oppikoppi, Northam 9 – 11 August
Ah, good old Oppikoppi! South Africa's quintessential rock festival will be drawing thousands of music fanatics and good time chasers to the dustiness that is Northam in Limpopo one again this year. The full line-up has not yet been announced.
Tickets start at R575, which includes a festival pass and allows you to pitch a tent in the designated camping areas. However, if you're after a bit of comfort, you can always opt for one of the fancy schmancy tent hotels.
Traveller24's top tip: Take a bandanna or a buff to cover your mouth and nose, as it gets pretty darn dusty.
- Poetry in McGregor Festival, McGregor 24 - 26 August
Poetry enthusiasts will delight in the sixth Poetry in McGregor Festival, set to take place on 24-26 August, featuring more than 160 poets participating at various venues in the town.
New to this year’s festival is the Helenvale Poets “back a buddy” project aims to bring 20 emerging poets from Helenvale, Port Elizabeth, to the McGregor Poetry Festival.
Get your tickets at Computicket from mid-July 2018 and remember to book accommodation in advance.
Traveller24's top tip: Make a full weekend of it and explore the dorpie. See art, visit quaint pubs and restaurants, go on hiking trails and wine tastings, among other activities.
- Hantam Vleisfees, Calvinia 24 – 25 August
This year is the Hantam Vleisfees' 29th anniversary, so if you've never been before, why not now? As the name suggests, the festival revolves around meat. But not just any meat! Karoo mutton and lamb to be more specific. Apart from delicious hearty food, the festival also presents an array of popular Afrikaans artists.
While ticket prices haven't been confirmed, you can expect to pay round about R50 for entry to the festival on Friday night and R80 on the Saturday. Keep an eye on the Hantam Vleisfees website for details.
Traveller24's top tip: If you are a meat-lover, you might want to take an empty cooler box and/or a portable fridge, as you're probably going to want to bring some loot back home.