Taking place from January 11-14, the South Africa BMW Championship is the largest golfing event in South Africa and the second oldest golf championship in the world, making it a must-see for golfing and sports enthusiasts. South Africa’s golfing greats battle it out on one of the country’s premier courses, last year’s competition featured world-renowned British two-time PGA Tour Winner and Player of the Year golfer, Rory McIlroy. This year’s competition takes place in the City of Ekhurhuleni. For more information, click here.
The L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and Racing Festival race from January 5-6 is considered in the world’s top five race days and will feature the country’s most elite thoroughbreds in chase of the coveted one million Rand prize. One of the most stylish events in the year, travelers can adhere to the smart and formal, blue and white dress code to be in with a chance of winning the Best Dressed or Best Hat competitions. For more information, click here.
From February 21-24, South Africa’s premier design event the Design Indaba Festival takes place in Cape Town. The event curates a pioneering program of speakers, music artists, film and design exhibitions, showcasing the best of the global and African creative industries. This event offers travelers the chance to engage in a vast plethora of design and retail inspiration and gives them the opportunity to go home with a rare one-of-a-kind design piece. For more information, click here.
Investec Cape Town Art Fair showcases a diversity of work that represents the forefront of contemporary art from Africa to the world. This culmination of artistic African flair takes place from February 16-18 in Cape Town; the home city of the newly opened Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa on the V&A Waterfront. For more information, click here.
Taking place from March 23-24 is Cape Town International Jazz Festival, South Africa’s flagship music event. The largest of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa, the festival is appropriately dubbed “Africa’s Grandest Gathering” and features a star-studded line-up of jazz acts from across the globe as well as local talent. 2018’s event features the UK’s very own Corinne Bailey Rae. For more information, click here.
The Cape Town Cycle Tour, the world’s largest timed cycle tour, takes place on March 11. The annual event attracts some 30,000 cyclists from around the world covering 65 miles of some of Cape Town’s most picturesque routes. Part of the Cape Town Cycle Tour Lifecycle week, visitors can also participate in the MTB Challenge on March 3, the Junior cycling event on March 4, or visit the Cape Town Cycle Tour Expo from March 8-10. For more information, click here.
One of the longest running fashion events in Southern Africa, South Africa Fashion Week (SAFW) will take place in Johannesburg from March 27-31. Showcasing SS18 collections from established designers, new designers, and student designers, the show will highlight the diversity and innovation of South Africans all residing and manufacturing in the country. The show kicks off with three days of women’s fashion, followed by two days of menswear. For more information or to buy tickets, click here.
The Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon takes place in Cape Town and features a variety of runs for travelers with all levels of stamina on Easter Sunday, ranging in lengths from the 56 km Ultra Marathon to the 5.6 km Fun Run and International Friendship Run. For families, the 2.1 km Nappy Dash and the 5.6 km Toddler’s Trot are sure to appeal. For more information, click here.
To mark the South African Freedom month of April which celebrates the arrival of democracy in the nation, visit Tankwa Karoo for 2018’s AfrikaBurn from April 23-29 for the Southern hemisphere’s only commerce-free festival. The event turns the barren landscape into a temporary pop-up city of art, theme camps, costume, music and performance. AfrikaBurn brings together a community of participants who create intricate and awe-inspiring art most notably in the form of burning structures, some of which are enormous in scale and set against the desert landscape backdrop of Tankwa. For more information, click here.
The ambient village of Franschhoek with its centuries-old vineyards, quaint restaurants and Dutch architecture provides a perfect setting for the Franschhoek Literary Festival from May 18-20, 2018. The festival brings together a wide variety of South African writers and distinguished international writers to raise funds for local communities and school libraries. For more information, click here.
The Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival will arrive in Knysna from May 24-27 and will be a highlight of the LGBTQ calendar. The festival is a four-day extravagant show which is full of non-stop entertainment, drag shows and pageants commencing in a carnival on the final day with floats and flamboyant costumes sailing down the streets of one of South Africa’s most gay friendly towns. For more information, click here.
The National Arts Festival held from the end of June to beginning of July in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape is the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent. The event features opportunities for artistic experimentation across the arts spectrum, bringing together drama, dance, physical theatre, comedy, opera, music, jazz, visual art exhibitions, film, student theatre, street theatre, lectures, craft fair, workshops, and a children’s arts festival. For more information, click here.
The Comrades Marathon on June 10 is one of the world’s largest and oldest ultramarathon races. The distance of 89 km (approx. 56 miles) is run in the KwaZulu-Natal Province from Durban to Pietermaritzburg and is attended by more than 13,000 runners each year. For more information, click here.
July 18 marks Nelson Mandela Day for which 2018 will bear a greater significance than previous years as it celebrates 100 years since Nelson Mandela was born.
The Knysna Oyster Festival is a premium sport and lifestyle festival which is aimed at “oyster enthusiasts, fitness fanatics and lovers of good life.” The event taking place from June 29-July 8 encompasses the Forest Marathon, a mountain-bike cycling tour, a regatta, a golf championship, and flea markets. For more information, click here.
The Sardine Run in KwaZulu-Natal will play host to the greatest dive show in the world between May and July. Some three billion sardines, followed by hundreds of predators, move from the cold Atlantic to the subtropical waters of the Indian Ocean in a mass stretching for up to 15 km that is visible even from satellites. For more information, click here.
Wild Flower Season: Every year from mid-August the semiarid West Coast is transformed into a floral paradise, with more than 2,600 species in bloom, creating floral carpets as far as the eye can see. Travelers are encouraged to embark on a self-drive drive through the West Coast National Park, or head even further north to the Northern Cape to view scenes of enigmatic botanical beauty. For more information, click here.
The 20th Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience will take place from August 27-September 9 in Durban. The event showcases and celebrates the very best of South African contemporary dance and their practitioners offering performances, workshops and classes for the traveling reveler to hone their own skills. For more information, click here.
Hermanus Whale Festival is the oldest and largest festival on the cape whale coast in South Africa. Taking place this year from September 29-October 1, the festival is a celebration of marine life filled with a variety of entertainment and activities. Aside from the main attraction – whale watching – travelers are treated to a Vintage Car Show, an interactive marine-themed eco village, great food and performing arts. For more information, click here.
An idea imported from Holland, every year the quaint village of Darling in the Western Cape hosts Voorkamerfest. Visitors buy tickets from a choice of six or seven journeys which provides them with transport in a local taxi to three mystery “voorkamer” (front room) venues that are the actual living rooms of locals. Each living room is temporarily inhabited by a performer or performers from the local area or from as far afield as Belgium or India. For more information, click here.
Rocking the Daisies Music Festival from October 5-8 at Cloof wine farm on the west coast of Cape Town is South Africa’s answer to Glastonbury. The country’s best-known rock, blues pop and folk bands along with up and coming acts descend on the green pastures along with some 17,000 revelers every year. For more information, click here.
From October 15-31 the Shembe Celebrations take place in the village of Judea in Zululand, KwaZulu-Natal. Some 30,000 followers gather for a month of religious celebrations encompassing traditional prayer dance where followers get an opportunity to be healed and blessed by Shembe. The prophet Shembe, the fourth successor of the first prophet, presides over the congregation. For more information, click here.
Following the showcase of SS18 collections in March, South Africa Fashion week (SAFW) continues in Johannesburg from October 23-27 to highlight AW19 collections. The show once again starts with three days of women’s fashion, followed by two days of menswear from South Africa’s best designers, highlighting beautiful signature pieces, on-trend looks and seasonal must-haves. For more information, click here.
Turtle-tracking: Maputaland on the northern coast of KwaZulu-Natal in November is one of the best times and places in the world to witness turtles laying their eggs in their droves on the sandy beaches. The most special coastal experience in South Africa, leatherback turtles return to the very beaches on which they were born to nest and lay their eggs in the soft sands. The best place to witness this ancient ritual is at Rocktail Bay and Mabibi, both blessed with coral reefs and fabulous lodgings. For more information, click here.
Visit Johannesburg from November 3-4 to view and learn about the latest trends in technology at Future Tech Gizmos & Gadgets Expo. The show is focused on the technology industry and offers something for all kinds of technology enthusiasts; from the casual gaming consumer to the manufacturers of world-renowned gadgets that are shaping the 21st century and beyond. For more information, click here.
Mother City Queer Project carnival is the biggest gay costume party held in Africa. Each new year presents a different theme for the party, with the masked costume ball featuring ten designated “dance zones.” This is a wildly popular event amongst locals and visitors from all around the world who like to dress up, have a good time and celebrate the vivacious and creative gay culture. For more information, click here.
The Outdoor Trance and Party Season & Rezonance New Year’s Eve Festival, which takes place from December 30, 2018-January 1, 2019, is the brazen pleasure-seeking, electro-trance and EDM party regarded as the biggest of its kind on the continent. It is where Cape Town’s hippest hippies pay homage to the beat from dusk ‘til dawn and where revelers will experience a strobe light infused unique musical experience to see out 2018 and welcome the new year. For more information, click here.