The Rainbow Nation’s events are as colourful as the name suggests with floating music festivals, tented towns with gingerbread houses filled with sweets and a world-famous sardine run.
Here are five unique events not to miss when visiting South Africa.
AfrikaBurn is an official Burning Man regional event, held annually in the Tankwa Karoo, a tented town just several hours north of Cape Town into South Africa’s arid Karoo semi-desert.
Over the last couple of years, the event has become increasingly popular with more than 9000 participants dressing up in elaborate costumes and body paint wandering around the festival tents.
The mind-blowing festival also hosts a circus, a post office, a gingerbread house filled with sweets, a Swiss alpine chalet, a saloon straight out of the Wild West and nearly a hundred other themed camps including dance floors, bars and coffee stations.
Dates: April 29 – May 5
2. UP THE CREEK
Shake off the festive season glitter and splash out for a Woodstock-esque fiesta that is wilder, wackier and a whole lot wetter!
A fun element of this popular annual music festival situated on the Breede river is the ‘Anything that Floats’ competition, encouraging festival participants to think outside of their beach gear boxes in order to stand a chance to win incredible prizes.
The categories include anything from the best design and most floatable contraption to the most luxurious device on the Breede River.
Dates: February 7 – February 10
The Knysna Oyster Festival is a mecca for food lovers and sporting enthusiasts.
The first Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival took place in 1983. Introduced to attract people to this seaside town during the quiet winter period, it has succeeded beyond all expectations.
The Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival is a 10-day event aimed at foodies, sports lovers and families.
Oyster eating, oyster shucking, oyster farm tours, oyster recipe challenges and gourmet oyster-themed dinners happen throughout the festival, along with wine and champagne tastings.
The oyster festival attracts over 70 000 visitors annually; particularly food lovers who slurp and swallow their way through more than 200 000 oysters at over 20 dedicated oyster venues.
Dates: June 29 – July 8
South Africa’s annual sardine run is a marine spectacle for everyone to enjoy, from birdwatchers and marine-life enthusiasts to amateur snorkellers and is recognized as one of the world’s most famous marine events.
Annually, during June and July, vast shoals of sardines migrate from their temperate-water home off South Africa’s southern coast and travel north-east into the sub-tropical coastal waters of the Wild Coast and can be spotted in enormous clusters.
The sardine run is popular due to the many additional species that can be spotted during the extraordinary event including; sharks, dolphins, birds and seals.
Dates: June & July
On par with the world-famous Rio Carnival in Brazil, the animated annual New Year’s festival, officially known in English as the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, explodes in a spirited cultural music and dance celebration every year in the first week of January.
In true carnival spirit, participants and spectators blend in a flurry of colour, song and drumbeats.
It’s not difficult to get into the spirit whilst watching the well-rehearsed minstrel troupes marching through the city’s roads dressed in glittery uniforms, face paint, hats and parasols.
Dates: First week of January