South Africans love to come together over a meal, whatever their culture or background. After all, who doesn’t love good food and the perfect drink to accompany it? Add in some great company and you’ve got a recipe (pun intended) for a great time. There’s so many foodie delights in South Africa; incredible quality meat, craft gins from uniquely South African ingredients, cutting-edge chefs, and good old Pinotage, to name but a few. So it makes sense that we’d have an abundance of food and drink festivals lined up for 2019. Here are some that you just can’t miss.
South African Cheese Festival (26-28 April, Stellenbosch)
Each April, over 30 000 cheese loving attendees gather to make this South Africa’s biggest outdoor culinary event of the year. Now in its 18th year running, cheese aficionados can find artisanal cheeseries offering up everything from gorgonzola to gouda. Learn about cheese secrets from some of the world’s best producers, catch a celebrity chef demonstration, or simply browse with a glass of wine in hand. There’s a fully-stocked cheese emporium with complementary meats, preserves and other goodies to serve with your next cheeseboard, or visit the tasting room for the cheese pairings of your dream
SA Cheese Festival:
Whisky and Spirits Live (November, Johannesburg)
The exact dates are still to be finalised, but the Sandton Convention Centre turns into the most cultured place on earth every November with the arrival of Whisky and Spirits Live. And it’s not just for whisky lovers either – the whiskey sceptics are more than welcome too! You’re bound to find something you like with such a wide variety available. More than 10 000 people arrive each year to browse, sample, and shop. With gin, rum, and vodka on offer in addition to whisky, it’s an amazing place to get some Christmas shopping done.
Knysna Oyster Festival (21-30 June, Knysna)
One of the most popular foodie events in the Garden Route, if not the entire country, the Knysna Oyster Festival is a family-friendly week of food and outdoor fun. While sports enthusiasts are well catered for with a half marathon, scuba diving, geocaching, and two-day bike event, it’s those who prefer to spectate with a snack in hand who are the real winners here, with oysters served at over thirty different ‘Oyster Hotspots’ scattered throughout the festival. There’s no doubt that it is, as they suggest, ‘the best ten days of your winter.’
What’s on offer if you’re not a fan of the world’s favourite aphrodisiac? Plenty. Music, theatre, talent shows, comedy, multisport, a photography and art exhibition, and an entire entertainment programme just for the little ones.
Knysna Oyster Festival:
Franschhoek Uncorked (14-15 September, Franschhoek)
It’s no surprise that the country’s premier wine region plays host to the premier wine festival. Over two days in September, wine fans can let loose in Franschhoek as you kiss goodbye to Winter and welcome Spring with open arms. The whole town gets in on the action, with winemakers showcasing rare and unreleased wines, culinary magicians cooking up a storm of unimaginably delicious foods, and entertainment to combat the 2pm wine slump and help you keep on enjoying the festival until evening sets in. Each of the vineyards that joins in has something special planned, so you’re encouraged to meander from one venue to the next taking in everything that Franschhoek has to offer.
Cherry Festival (November, Ficksburg)
Though no official date has been announced yet, November is the traditional time for visitors to flock to the Free State town of Ficksburg for the annual cherry festival. It’s the country’s longest-running crop festival, having been an annual fixture since 1968. So what, exactly, does a cherry festival entail? As it turns out, a little bit of everything. There’s outdoor activities from marathons to equestrian displays, as well as cherry tours and tastings, cherry product competitions, beer tents and no shortage of wine. Stock up on cherry jam, tuck in to cherry pies; who knows, maybe you’ll even find a cherry beer or cider to ward off the sweltering Free State sun.
Ficksburg Cherry Festival: