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7 Fruit Festivals You Shouldn’t Miss!

Liezl Hesketh in Tips 



South Africa’s amazingly varied climate and fertile soil make it the perfect place to grow fruit. In fact there isn’t one month of the year where at least one type of fruit isn’t available. And we like to celebrate that. Here are 7 fruit festivals you can enjoy throughout the year.

The Magoebaskloof and Haenertsburg Berry Festival

When: February (Next Festival 2016)
Where: Kuhestan Organic Farm, Blueberry Heights Farm and Cheerio Gardens –Magoebaskloof
What to expect: Blueberries and raspberries are the flavour of the month at this festival. While you’re enjoying the festivities you can visit any one of the three farms that are involved in the event and pick your own fruit! When you’ve eaten too many berries to move, you may want to take part in the Berry Festival Run at Blueberry Heights Farm and work it all off. It’s a lovely run (3, 5.5 or 9kms) through the forest along the Ebenezer Dam and Stanford Lake. There are other competitions and the Berry Fest Dinner to enjoy. The historic Haenertsburg village hosts the Village Market where you’ll be able to pick up fresh farm produce and homemade berry products such as pickles, jams, pies, pancakes, ice cream and smoothies. Not forgetting the arts and crafts, organic cheeses, home-made cakes, plants, second-hand books, and other delightful and unique items. Our beautiful local restaurants and tea gardens will be serving guests their unique and mouth-watering desserts and tantalising cocktails all delectably flavoured with…berries, of course!


The Prickly Pear Festival

When: March (Next Festival 2016)
Where: Cuyler Manor, Uitenhage, Nelson Mandela Bay
Website: There isn’t one so keep a look out!
What to expect: After 6 years away, the Prickly Pear Festival is back and it’s been revamped. Local artists like Chapter Three, Lee-Ann Wales andamp; Les Simons, Tururu, Transformaz and Early B The Rapper will be performing alongside national artists such as Loyiso Bala, Arno Jordaan, soapie stars from 7de Laan namely Jo da Silva (Gita MacGregor) and Vinette Ebrahim (Aunty Charmaine).

You can look forward to enjoy homemade ginger beer, pancakes, potjiekos, jam, a spit braai and fish braai, bunnychow and home-made puddings with prickly pears flavouring everything!


Kiwi Festival a.k.a. Haenertsburg Food, Wine and Beer Festival

When: May 1 -3 (Next Festival 2016)
Where: Haenertsburg
What to expect: Even if you’ve never eaten a Kiwi this is a great festival for the whole family. There’s wine, good food, craft beer, music and all kinds of yummy stuff. There will be food demonstrations by well-known chefs showing you the best wine choices to pair with your meals.

At this festival you get to join in the cooking fun. There’s an outdoor cooking competition where contestants are given a selection of ingredients that obviously includes kiwi fruit, and 2 hours in which to prepare something that will impress the judges. How are your culinary skills – are you up to the challenge?

You can tour the kiwi fruit farm, enjoy fruit tastings and sample products made with the cute fruit. There are also talks on how kiwi fruit is grown and their fascinating history. For instance, do you know the fruit originally came from China, where they are called among other things, yang tao? They then made their way to New Zealand where they became known as Chinese Gooseberries.

There is a must-do foodie tour through the quaint village, food demonstrations, specials at local restaurants, kids entertainment and much more. Kiwi fruit products are on sale and can be sampled as well at the country market. When you’re festival-ed out there are lovely walks through the exquisite surroundings and beautiful forests to the nearby dams and waterfalls.


The Peach Festival a.k.a. the Tonteldoos Country Festival a.k.a The Tondeloos Highland Festival

When: Late March/ early April – Easter Weekend (Next Festival 2016)
Where: Tonteldoos, Dullstroom, Mpumalanga
Website: Click here for Peach Festival website
What to expect: Every year in the village of Tanteldoos, in either late March or early April, the peaches are ripe for picking and the village, a small hamlet of Dullstroom celebrates. The legendary Tonteldoos Highland Festival used to be known as the Tonteldoos Country Festival, and before that it was simply the Peach Festival. Whatever you call it the festival offers peaches and peach products in almost any shape, form and preserve, including peach mampoer. All-day live entertainment by various artists, boere sport, donkey carts rides for all ages and donkey cart competitions are just some of the attractions. Everything from traditional pancakes, braai vleis, chipstix, burgers, hotdogs and potjiekos to the more exotic will be available at the many food and delicacy stalls. There’s also a tea garden and a beer tent.

Afterwards, you can explore the stunning countryside and learn its fascinating history, or just relax on the banks of one of the many trout dams at many of the guest houses and lodges, and fly-fish to your heart’s content.

A mere 20km northwest of Dullstroom and two hours from Johannesburg, this is a charming country festival not to be missed. After a wonderful Easter Weekend you’ll head home happy and with your car boot stuffed with local produce like dried peaches, jams and preserved fruits. And possibly some mampoer as well.


Riebeek Kasteel Olive Festival

When: 2-3 May (Next Festival 2016)
Where: Riebeek Kasteel, Western Cape
What to expect: As a past winner of the West Coast Tourism Award, a nominee for Crowd Pleaser in the Klink Awards, and in 2013 voted Woolworths’ Taste Magazine’s “The Unforgettable Festival” by its readers, this festival is clearly one you shouldn’t miss.

It’s a feast of the best wine and olives in SA. There’s also an art competition, live entertainment, stalls and lots of food. Which is always good at a festival! Hosted by the Olive Emporium from the centre of Riebeek Kasteel, famed for its old fashioned and down to earth hospitality, the festival offers a wide array of olive produce that you can sample. It’s a good time to stock the larder with purchases of your favourite olive, wine and artisan beers while enjoying the abundance of delicious local food and live entertainment. There’s even olive body products available!

The best way to work the festival is to purchase an Olive Passport. This gets you into all 7 venues, olive tastings at most venues, entertainment as well as use of the free shuttle service. You can purchase one here: Not included in the passport but available to purchase at each venue is a wine tasting glass and wine tasting coupons.

The Outeniqua Hop Annual Nestle Ice Cream Strawberry Festival

(Actually, it’s not really clear what the official name is!)
When: 26 -27 September 2015
Where: Redberry Farm, Blanco, Outeniqua
What to expect: Strawberries! Lots and lots of strawberries. Fresh farm air, local cheese, fresh produce, steam trains and pony rides all under the gaze of the magnificent Outeniqua Mountains. There’s lots of stalls with good food, fabulous local wine – Tramonto Berry & Wine Pairings – high quality products, a Redberry talk and farm tours, the beer tent and the Outdoor Market. Best of all? It’s all in a good cause! A large portion of the proceeds are distributed between a local charity, Options Care Centre, and the Outeniqua Tourism Association (OTA).

This has to be the festival with the most competitions. To the beat of live music provided by Algoa FM Vibe with Charlton Tobias, Daveymac and Lianie May, there’s the Redberry 8km trail run & 4km family fun run, CrossFit George Fittest in the Garden Route Competition and the Moore Stephens George Berry Mountain Bike Relay.

For those who prefer their competitions to be more fruit based there’s the Strawberry Eating Competition. In 2013 Mark Mandel ate 1.352 kg in 3 minutes. He hasn’t been beaten yet. Are you berry enough to take up the challenge?

The kids have their own competitions. There’s the Kids Strawberry & Nestle Ice Cream Eating Competitions, the Redberry Schools Scarecrow Competition that has R6000 up for grabs as the prize, as well as Redberry Farm vouchers and Nestle Ice Cream prizes for the creators of the winning scarecrows. The scarecrows are displayed all year round at Redberry Farm along the outer hedge of their maze. There will also be dance performances by Ballare School of Ballet. For the very little ones there’s the Miniature Train Display. Come stuff yourself with strawberries for a good cause!


The GWK Ficksburg Cherry Festival

When: 19 to 21 November 2015
Where: Ficksburg, Eastern Free State
What to expect: The Cherry Festival is the oldest crop festival in the country. It began almost half a century ago and has never missed a year. It attracts nearly 20 000 visitors to Ficksburg and generates in the region of R40 million; a massive injection into the local economy. So it’s not only a major cultural event for the region but also one of the most important events in the Free State. The GWK Cherry Festival showcases some of South Africa’s top entertainers and up-and-coming artists see the cherry stage as a platform to launch their careers. Thanks to GWK, a major attraction this year will be the GWK Wine Garden, where you can sample the company’s best wines.

Being the “Gateway to the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho” and nestled among magnificent scenery, sitting at the foot of the 1750-metre-high Imperani Mountain, the festival is a delight of cherry and asparagus tastings, tours, picnics, music, and the Miss Cherry Blossom and Miss Cherry Pip competitions. The locals call Ficksburg the cherry capital of the world and when you consider how versatile the fruit is that’s not surprising. You can purchase cherry jam, cherry ice-cream, cherry cocktails, cherry syrup, cherry alcohol – the list is a long one. Visit the cherry and asparagus farms and learn all there is to know about being a cherry or asparagus farmer! While you’re munching on sweet cherries you can watch the sheep herding trials, take a horse or even a camel ride, a helicopter flip or a steam train ride at Sandstone Estate. There are also tours through the town exploring the sandstone buildings architecture for which Ficksburg is famous.

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