South African Cultural Observatory

Events Overview



The Grahamstown National Arts Festival: Africa's largest and most colourful cultural event offers a choice of the very best of both indigenous and imported talent. Every year for 11 days (June/July) Grahamstown's population almost doubles, as over 50 000 people flock to Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape for a feast of arts, crafts and sheer entertainment.

WORDFEST (27 June to 7 July 2020)

Every year, during the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, the Rhodes University hosts the acclaimed WordFest event. This event is aimed at promoting word-arts in all of its modern, innovative and creative forms. This intriguing event is not only to entertain, but also to foster a reading and writing culture in South Africa, particularly in the African tongues.



The Free State Fashion Week is an annual prestigious Fashion, Lifestyle, Arts and Culture event held in Bloemfontein. FSFW provides a platform for designers and artists to explore their creativity and display their designs in a manner where their work can be recognized and appreciated, We also provide for them to be able to attain international exposure for partaking in the event.

MACUFE FESTIVAL (October 2020)

Every year in early October, Bloemfontein (now known as Mangaung) comes alive to the deep rhythm and soulful beat of the Macufe African Cultural Festival. This festival lasts for an impressive 10 days, and gives local and international talent a chance to shine.



Come and join in this year's Knysna Literary Festival. This town is a mix of culture with a rich and colourful history. The festival stands for the improvement of people’s minds through reading, creativity, and production. This year promises an exciting offering, from interviews and talks, to discussion groups with South Africa’s leading authors.


Klein Karoo Arts Festival (KKNK) is an Afrikaans arts and culture festival in the Karoo town of Oudtshoorn. Ten years after the first festival, the KKNK starts its second decade with a shift of emphasis to the classical, without changing its winning recipe drastically. The music theatre genre boasts with a whole heap of productions. Goema is a brand new revue by David Kramer and Taliep Petersen, their first since Kat & the Kings.


A festival of classical music and Klein Karoo cuisine, wines and art. Make a date with delicious Klein Karoo cuisine paired with regional wines and complimented by the classical sounds of a string quartet, a piano duo (piano & cello) two piano recitals, a performance of Lieder, a wind instrument quintet, an organ recital and the performance of an a Capella choir.


The Parlotones Live Tour 2020 (21 April 2020)

Huawei Joburg Day (16 May 2020)

The 2020 fourth annual Huawei Joburg Day in the Park will boast a contingent of ten local artists at a family-friendly sound explosion.


South Africa holds national quilt festivals every two years. This includes a national quilting competition, special quilt exhibitions, workshops, lectures, a vendors' hall and much more.


The Moretele Park Tribute Concert is an annual festival, which is held at Moretele Park in Mamelodi, Pretoria. The Concert is a great way to spend your day. Invite all your friends and your family to join in the festivities of the day. There will be a fantastic line-up of local artists bringing entertainment to all visitors.

THE JOZI BOOK FAIR (August 2020)

The Festival provides a platform for readers, writers, artists, school youth, children, adults and the public. [read more] The Festival is organised around the JBF’s work with its constituencies and the public throughout the year. The Jozi Book Fair annual event includes book launches, conversations with writers, art and literature exhibitions, a networking space for small publishers’; a discussion forum of Reading Circles, especially youth groups from townships in South Africa; and a space for local writers to interact with writers from Africa and the world.

JOBURG ART FAIR (September 2020)

The annual Joburg Art Fair will showcase the best in contemporary African art and design, with 23 Galleries and 11 Special Projects. The Alfa Romeo Art Talks Program will feature local and international gallerists and artists. Grolsch have commissioned glass artist Martli Jansen van Rensburg to create a green glass installation that will be exhibited at the Fair for the first time.


Celebrating its 21st anniversary in 2018 The Standard Bank Joy of Jazz has a fantastic line up of top international and local artists. This year international artists hail from America, Sweden, Spain and the Netherlands and will be joined by top performers from South Africa and the African Diaspora.


The Getaway Show is one of the largest consumer tourism and leisure shows in South Africa. What makes the show so compelling to exhibitors is that it attracts a buying audience of qualified visitors (Getaway readers) who have elected to attend the show because of their specific interest in the products and services on display.


Africa is a mosaic of colours, crafts and cultures. The best way to capture and celebrate these elements is through the art of literature. The Abantu Book Festival is now one of the hottest events of the year for African writers and the readers that value their style and approach to the power of the written word.



Splashy Fen Music Festival celebrates its 29th festival from. Held on a farm some 18-km from Underberg, in the scenic Southern Drakensberg of KwaZulu-Natal, the festival offers city dwellers a chance to unwind and enjoy the beauty of the mountains.

THE INDABA (May 2020)

Indaba is one of the largest tourism marketing events on the African calendar and one of the top three ‘must visit’ events of its kind on the global calendar. It showcases the widest variety of Southern Africa's best tourism products, and attracts international visitors and media from across the world.

HILTON ARTS FESTIVAL (11-13 September 2020)

The annual Hilton Arts Festival is a feast of theatre, music, dance, craft and visual art, as well as excellent food. Hilton College Theatre is the second largest, fixed-seated venue in KwaZulu-Natal, with a seating capacity of 486. The theatre is used both by the school, as well as for commercial ventures. A large number of well-known local and international stars have appeared on the Hilton stage.


The festival offers acoustic performances by some of the country’s finest established up-and-coming artists including Craig Hinds, Cape Town singer and top of the chart performer Matthew Mole, Brett Newski, duo Margaret's Daughter, as well as Paige Mac, Gerald Clark and Luna Paige to mentioned a few. Look forward to ample space within the beautiful surroundings where you can enjoy fishing at the dam, swimming in the pool, or watching your children enjoy the playground area. As soon as you feel slightly hungry tuck into the charming restaurant's menu or relax with an ice-cold bear at the pub.



The Wakkerstroom Music Festival, better known as the WMF, is focussed on making rural communities more aware of the magic that is performing and visual arts. It is also held to raise money for a bursary competition that takes place every two years. The next WMF is scheduled for 16 to 18 March 2018, and is set to be a vibrant celebration of classical music and art.


The Dullstroom Festival of Art & Culture is a means of introducing visitors to the many varied aspects of creativity within Dullstroom and the surrounding areas. The festival will create a platform to showcase local talent and to create an awareness of the natural heritage of the area.

INNIBOS KUNSTEFEES (24-27 June 2020)

Every year the Innibos Arts Festival welcomes an influx of people to Nelspruit, in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. Recently, these people have exceeded 100 000 in number. In the annual Fiesta Awards in Cape Town, Innibos was voted the country’s most popular festival and, watching the attendance numbers escalate every year, this is not surprising.


This festival has been designed to explore and showcase the talent that is treasured within the borders of the African continent. However, it is not about rules. This is about free expression, grey areas, colouring outside the lines, so to speak. These include artists that specialise in spray-painting, sketching, drawing, painting, singing, drumming, playing a stringed instrument, and much more. Being part of the festivities promises to be fun, not only for those who really appreciate art and music, but for the whole family.



The annual Rustenburg show is to be held at the Rustenburg showgrounds. Enjoy a day of fun with performances by popular local artists. Agricultural championships and auctions will be held during the Rustenburg Show for small livestock, cattle, poultry and more.


The Aardklop National Arts Festival in Potchefstroom offers a wide variety for festivalgoers - from huge concerts at the new festival grounds to an outstanding theatre programme. Last year's artists performing at the respective concerts included Theuns Jordaan, Kurt Darren, Riana Nel, Bobby van Jaarsveld, Steve Hofmeyr and the international acts Smokie and Pussycat (Toni Wille). In Riders on the Storm six of South Africa’s best guitarists can be seen on one stage.


AFRIKABURN (27 April to 3 May 2020)

This is a freedom of expression festival with the intention of building a temporary community though collaborative arts projects, in a completely non-commercial environment. The 'gift economy' means that there is no commercial exchange at the event at all - no vending, no cash bars and no branded promotion of services or products, the aim being real social interaction. It is an exercise in total self-reliance: participants camp for a week and provide entirely for themselves, including all their water, shelter and food needs. If you come to AfrikaBurn, you are expected to participate in whatever way you can.


A soul cleansing and truly inspiring experience ignites the red dunes of the Kalahari Desert, as South Africa’s very own ‡Khomani San welcome you into their community and way of life. The Kalahari Desert Festival lives dramatic dance, music, culture and history, and breaths the reconnection of both historically and geographically diverse cultures and South African communities in a way that most feel inspired and thrived!


Design Indaba Festival 2020 (26 February 2020)

Design Indaba's flagship event has evolved into so much more than a conference. More than a talk shop, it's an immersive experience that includes not only a series of design talks by creative industry heavyweights, but also live musicperformance and theatrefashion showsproduct launchesdance, and surprise appearances by creative industry leaders.

Cape Town International Comedy Festival (1 March 2020)

The Cape Town International Comedy Festival is the largest Comedy Festival in South Africa. It’s relaunching in 2020 for one week. The Cape Town Comedy Festival (CTCF) will host the most varied comedy shows and concepts ever produced in SA, catering for every comedy taste and presenting the latest of global trends.

CAPE TOWN CARNIVAL (21 March 2020)

The Carnival celebrates a truly South African expression of Music, Dance and Arts, educate, and inform the world of the rich culture and history of South Africa.


Harfield holds an annual carnival along 2nd Avenue when the village comes alive with a series of jazz bands, entertainment, kiddie fun, music, crafts, food and art.

SUIDOOSTERFEES (27 April 2020)

The “suidooster” is the iconic wind that sweeps through Cape Town and reminds its residents of the unstoppable power of the elements. Therefore, this is an apt name for the annual Suidoosterfees (sponsored by Die Burger), which is a festival celebrating local modern culture and heritage within a framework of fun, colour and a non-stop vibe. Having been established in 2003, this event continues to grow and evolve and is now a top choice for locals and visitors with a penchant for all things unabashedly South African. It is held at the iconic Artscape Theatre and features the full range of performance types and extras - dance, drama, comedy, music, art exhibition, and historical tours.


For three days, Franschhoek becomes a bustling get-together of readers, writers, booksellers and publishers. Visit the Polemics and Politics themed Franschhoek Literary Festival. Alexander McCall Smith, Anthony Horowitz, Antony Beevor, Kate Mosse, A D (Andrew) Miller, Paul Geraghty, Mbuyiseni Oswald Mtshali, Marguerite Poland, Redi Thlabi, historians Bill Nasson and Randolph Vigne, poet and novelist Finuala Dowling, Fred de Vries, Jo-Anne Richards, Anchien Troskie, Sydda Essop, Nini Bairnsfather Cloete, Claire Robertson, Christopher Hope, Jane Raphaely, Tony Leon, Chris Mann, Ndumiso Ngcobo and the regular lineup of proficient chairpeople, including Michele Magwood, Justice Malala, Jenny Crwys-Williams, John Maytham, Mike Wills and more. The visiting authors have been selected for their exceptional writing, their approachability and their passion for promoting reading.


Ten concerts will be performed in various historical venues in the neighbouring towns of Greyton and Genadendal. The line-up includes performances by the Trio Du Cap Classique, with French cellist David Pinoit, flutist Liesl Stoltz and pianist Francois du Toit, the Lyric Trio of Suzanne Martens (violin), Peter Martens (cello) and Elna van der Merwe (piano), the Camerata Tinta Barocca presenting 'Of Plants and Animals: Baroque music inspired by nature', the Duo Infinite, with percussionists Cherilee Adams and Dylan Tabisher joining forces with clarinetist Visser Liebenberg, La Femme, a celebration of dance and music with internationally acclaimed dancer Tanya Diamond, classical guitarist Nina Fourie-Gouws and members of the SoloFLAMENCO dance studio, and mezzo soprano Minette du Toit-Pearce, soprano Britttany Hope Smith, tenor Keanan Lyle Mitchell and bass Garth Delport performing in the gala concert of the festival, and more.

HERMANUS FYNARTS (5-16 June 2020)

This year there are more than 20 art exhibitions - sculpture, ceramics, painting, photography, quilting and glass - are complemented by music concerts and recitals, workshops and master-classes, tutored wine tastings, pairings and fine dining. On top of this, there is a wide range of talks, all richly illustrated.


The Voorkamerfest is the only theatre festival in South Africa where you may see productions in multiple languages, by musicians, dancers, actors and performers of all genres from many ethnic groups from various countries.


The Cape Town Fringe Festival is all about fresh new theatre, dance, and comedy by local and international artists. This festival will rock Cape Town and the line-up includes firm favourites like Police Cops (an acclaimed comedy from the UK), and the national debut of a local adaptation of The Gruffalo, especially for the children.


Rocking the Daisies is an eco-friendly music and lifestyle festival-taking place at the Cloof Wine Estate in Darling (Western Cape). The festival will once again offer the best in live entertainment, lifestyle exhibitions and gourmet food.


The Spier Light Art Festival is an annual event that was launched in December 2018, when the 18 light art installations were showcased to more than 10 000 spectators. It is no wonder it has become an annual affair.


The festival offers you the opportunity to explore and appreciate a culture and lifestyle that is friendly to oneself, others and the environment. It makes a fun day out for the whole family. The parade is the highlight of the festival, hundreds of festival-goers from all over South Africa will hand pull the 20 meter- colourful wooden chariot bearing the figures of Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra down the streets of Seapoint.


Kaapse klopse’ or Cape Town Minstrel Carnival: The city of Cape Town comes alive to celebrate new year in a raucous carnival the likes of which are not seen elsewhere in the world, unless you’re ready to compare it with the mardi gras in New Orleans and the carnevale in Rio de Janeiro, which it isn’t, not quite, although certainly it has its roots therein.


Human Rights Day 2020 (21 March 2020)

Human Rights Day in South Africa is historically linked with 21 March 1960, and the events of Sharpeville. On that day 69 people died and 180 were wounded when police fired on a peaceful crowd that had gathered in protest against the Pass laws. This day marked an affirmation by ordinary people, rising in unison to proclaim their rights. It became an iconic date in our country’s history that today we commemorate as Human Rights Day as a reminder of our rights and the cost paid for our treasured human rights.

World Book and Copyright Day 2020 (23 April 2020)

World Book and Copyright Day is a celebration to promote the enjoyment of books and reading. Each year, on 23 April, celebrations take place all over the world to recognise the magical power of books - a link between the past and the future, a bridge between generations and across cultures.

World Intellectual Property Day 2020 (26 April 2020)

World Intellectual Property Day is observed annually on 26 April. The event was established by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2000 to “raise awareness of how patents, copyright, trademarks and designs impact on daily life” and “to celebrate creativity, and the contribution made by creators and innovators to the development of societies across the globe”.

World Press Freedom Day 2020 (3 May 2020)

World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO's General Conference. Since then, 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day.

International Museum Day 2020 (18 May 2020)

International Museum Day was celebrated for the first time, 1977, 42 years ago. The objective of International Museum Day (IMD) is to raise awareness of the fact that, “Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.” Organised on 18 May each year or around this date, the events and activities planned to celebrate International Museum Day can last a day, a weekend or an entire week.

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development 2020 (21 May 2020)

In 2001, UNESCO adopted the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity and in December 2002, the UN General Assembly, in its resolution 57/249, declared May 21 to be the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. Bridging the gap between cultures is urgent and necessary for peace, stability and development.

Africa Day 2020 (25 May 2020)

Africa Day is intended to celebrate and acknowledge the successes of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU now the AU) from its creation in May 25, 1963 in the fight against colonialism and apartheid, as well as the progress that Africa has made, while reflecting upon the common challenges that the continent face in a global environment.

Youth Day 2020 (16 June 2020)

The June 16, 1976, Uprising that began in Soweto and spread countrywide profoundly changed the socio-political landscape in South Africa. Events that triggered the uprising can be traced back to policies of the Apartheid government that resulted in the introduction of the Bantu Education Act in 1953.

Nelson Mandela Day (18 July 2020)

18 July, which is Nelson Mandela's birthday, was declared by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) as Nelson Mandela International Day in 2010.  The celebration of this international day recognises and gives credence to the former President’s commitment to human rights, conflict resolution and reconciliation. It is an annual celebration of Nelson Mandela’s life and a global call to action for people to recognise their individual power to make an imprint and change the world around them.

Women's Month 2020 (1 to 31 August 2020)

Women’s Month is a tribute not only to the thousands of women who marched on that day in 1956, but also a tribute to the pioneers of the women’s movement in this country, dating back to 1913, when women like Charlotte Maxeke led the way in establishing the ANC Women’s League and encouraging women to engage in the struggle for freedom. Pioneers include Cissy, Jaynab and Amina Gool, who were amongst the leaders of the National Liberation League and the Non-European United Front of the 1930s.

International Day of the World's Indigenous People 2020 (9 August 2020)

In 1994, the General Assembly decided that the International Day of the World's Indigenous People shall be observed on 9 August every year. The date marks the day of the first meeting, in 1992, of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. Indigenous peoples contribute extensibly to humanity's cultural diversity, enriching it withmore than two thirds of its languages and an extrordinary amount of its traditional knowledge.

Heritage Month 2020 ( 1 to 30 September 2020)

Government calls on all South Africans to use Heritage Month to foster greater social cohesion, nation building and a shared national identity. The celebration of Heritage Month has created a conducive environment for all people to embrace and celebrate what was inherited or bequeathed to us by our forebears.

Tourism Month 2020 (1 to 30 September 2020)

Tourism Month is celebrated annually in September, and provides a heightened month-long focus on the importance of the sector to the South African economy. Tourism Month features themed activities that are aligned to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) World Tourism Day Celebrations that take place annually on 27 September.

National Book Week 2020 (2 September 2020)

South Africa commemorates National Book Week in from 2 to 8 September. It is an initiative of the South African Book Development Council (SABDC) in collaboration with the Department of Arts and Culture. National Book Week is an important initiative in encouraging the nation to value reading as a fun and pleasurable activity and to showcase how reading can easily be incorporated into one’s daily lifestyle.

International Literacy Day 2020 ( 8 September 2020)

For over 40 years now, UNESCO has been celebrating International Literacy Day by reminding the international community that literacy is a human right and the foundation of all learning. Literacy is a cause for celebration since there are now close to four billion literate people in the world. However, literacy for all – children, youth and adults - is still an unaccomplished goal and an ever moving target.

International Translation Day 2020 (30 September 2020)

International Translation Day (ITD) was launched in 1953 by the International Federation of Translators. It is celebrated worldwide every year on 30 September, the feast day of St Jerome, who is the patron saint of translators. The day presents an opportunity for paying tribute to the work of translators, terminologists, interpreters and language practitioners in general who endeavour to make the world a slightly smaller place by breaking down language barriers and allowing great literature to be enjoyed far more widely. Dedicated events, seminars, workshops, conferences and symposiums are held across the world to celebrate ITD.

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As we all know and have somewhat even become accustomed to it, due to social distancing measures put in place to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, since March 26, we have all not able to travel to any venue to consume any form of arts and culture products. Libraries, archives, museums, films and television productions, theatre and orchestra performances, fashion shows, concert tours, zoos as well as music and arts festivals have all been closed or come to a complete halt. Could this signal a death knell for the sector? The answer has to be a Big No, at least not if we can help it as consumers and key stakeholders of the cultural and creative industries.

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Young Creatives in South Africa have heaps of challenges stacked up against them. Their reality is like that of many youth and people whose livelihoods depend on informal labour practises and gig work. Nothing makes this more evident than the effects of Covid-19 on life as we know it. However it is through their infinite potential, innovative capabilities and resilience that the country is endowed with the means to solve the complex problems in the ever-uncertain present and towards a Fourth Industrial future.

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