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 08
Sep

South African Food and Drink Festivals

Liezl Hesketh in Tips 

winey

Of all the festivals in South Africa the most delicious ones are the Food and Drink festivals. Sorry couldn’t resist. Here’s a menu of all the best festivals for you to get your teeth into; from Crayfish to Cabernet, Lamb heads to Beerfests, there’s even something for the wine stomping aficionados.

As we’ve mentioned before, please check the websites as dates and locations can change at a moment’s notice and we’d hate for you to miss out.

The Feast of the Grape

Where: D’Aria Wine Farm, Durbanville Wine Valley, Cape Town
When: February / March (Next East – 2016)
Website: Feast of the Grape Website
What to expect: Join in the wine making frivolities as you kick off your shoes for some squishing and splatting. It’s a weekend of fun and a salute the region’s great harvest traditions of the past hosted by 12 wine farms in the Durbanville Wine Valley.  Come together with the community to celebrate the season’s bounty. Beautiful surroundings, great food, excellent wines, stomp grapes for charity, entertainment and a play area for the kids, music and happy crowds – it’s a most memorable festival.

Lambert’s Bay Crayfish and Culture Festival

Where: Lambert’s Bay, West Coast, Western Cape
When: March (Next Festival – 2016)
Website: Crayfish Festival
What to expect: Lambert’s Bay, known as the diamond of the West Coast, is a postcard perfect fishing village, a beautiful two and a half hour drive from Cape Town. It has played host to the Kreeffees for twelve years now. Which makes sense as this is not only the seafood mecca of the country but also the heart of the crayfish kingdom. Besides the white beaches and blue sea which provide their own kind of entertainment, you can enjoy the crustaceans the festival is named for at ridiculously low prices for the whole weekend. But it’s not just crayfish, you can also enjoy the Cape Town specialty – snoek seafood potjies, mussels, oysters and paella. Your tummy will be happy and so will your soul – the line-up of Afrikaans singers and entertainers reads like a list of who’s who in Afrikaans entertainment. Apart from the donkey rides, the bungee jumping, the aerial displays, the half-marathon and the beer tents, 2015 also saw the addition of a new event – the sheep dog trials.

Philippolis Witblits Festival

Where: Philippolis, Free State
When: April (Next Festival – 2016)
Website: There isn’t one at the time of writing this blog so keep a lookout.
What to expect: In South Africa one of the many names for moonshine is white lightning, or witblits. And here, in Philippolis, the oldest town in the Free State, it gets its own festival. It’s not for the fainthearted. Make sure you have a designated driver. But there is also fun activities that don’t require the consumption of witblits, like boeresport or farmers’ sport for the kids, art and the Laurens van der Post Memorial Garden where you can revive the spirit with a quick afternoon nap before heading back for some more witblits.

SA Cheese Festival

Where: Stellenbosch, Sandringham, Cape Winelands
When: Late April (Next Festival – 2016)
Website: Cheese Festival
What to expect: Cheese and wine is certainly not a hard sell clearly, as 30 000 people attend this festival! Artisan and boutique cheese makers vie for space next to world class local and international cheeses. Spend the day gazing at the magnificent Stellenbosch mountains, nibbling your way through all the delectable cheesy samples, sloshing back one or more of the many local harvest wines. There’s the celebrity hosted master-class, a cheese dominated cooking class and a Carnival!

Soup, Sip and Bread

Where: Durbanville Wine Valley
When: 6 – 7 June
Website: Soup, Sip and Bread
What to expect: A mere 20 minutes from Cape Town, you can discover the luscious, fruity merlots from the Durbanville Wine Valley and why it’s one of the most food-loving, fun-loving, soup-loving red wines around. This laid-back winter feast is one for friends and family as vinters and chefs treat you to the fabulous partnerships of wine, soups, chowders and gumbos from around the world. Although winter is red wine season you can still expect the valley’s most famous wine, the sauvignon blanc to make a grand entrance in a creamy mussel bisque.

Calitzdorp Port and Wine Festival

Where: Calitzdorp, Western Cape
When: 13 June – 19 July 2015
Website: Calitzdorp Port and Wine Festival
What to expect: Calitzdorp in the Klein Karoo, is the port-wine capital of South Africa. Hosted by the eight wine cellars of Calitzdorp, its annual Port and Wine Festival is a party of note. The opening ceremony of the traditional march of the drummies and the Zoar brass band sets the scene. An historical treasure hunt around the town, local arts and crafts, lifestyle market stalls to suit all tastes, the Port Dance, restaurants, food stalls and the annual South African boules Championship are just some of the treats in tore for festival goers. It all ends with the Calitzdorp Wild Olive Market. A street party where everyone sits at a long table and enjoys the food bought from the stalls or restaurants. The vibrant atmosphere, live music and lifestyle stalls and the street braai ends the festival on a high note.

The Knysna Oyster Festival

Where: Knysna, East Coast
When: 3 to 12 July 2015
Website: Knysna Oyster Festival
What to expect: This is one of South Africa’s favourite events. For 32 years more than 50 000 people have come from all over the country to enjoy ten days of over 100 gourmet, sporting, entertainment and family activities that include oyster braais, oyster tasting, oyster-eating competitions and other mollusc related events. This year there will be a whole lot of new happenings including the decadent Oyster, Bubbly and Chocolate Experience and the all-new Forest Family Dam Ride, which will cut through the spectacular scenery in and around three Knysna dams. The festival’s classic events include the all-time favourite road and mountain bike races – part of the Rotary Momentum Weekend Argus Knysna Cycle Tour, the Knysna Wine Festival and Night Market, the Tabasco Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festivals “Flavours of Knysna”, the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival Shuckle – a belly filling and belly laughter inducing combo and the Tabasco Knysna Classic.

Knysna Gastronomica

Where: Knysna, East Coast
When: Either July or SeptemberTBC
Website: There isn’t one at the time of writing so keep your eyes peeled.
What to expect: The Garden Route is not only beautiful, it’s also delicious thanks to the Kynsna Gastronimca Festival. Ten days of lavish food workshops, demonstrations, competitions and discussions that every food enthusiast, culinary professional or member of Joe Public who likes good food can revel in as Spring returns to South Africa. Only the freshest seasonal ingredients the farmers who produce and artisans who process the products go into every dish lovingly prepared by both local and international chefs, restaurateurs and cookery enthusiasts. On top of all the delicious food there are also fashion, music, art and theatre events – all with a tasty food theme.

Cellar Rats Wine Festival

Where: “The Old Mill”, Magaliesberg, Gauteng
When: Sunday 31 May 2015
Website: Cellar Rats Wine Festival
What to expect: Huge shady trees, lush green grass and an abundance of bird life on the banks of the picturesque Magalies River only 45 minutes from Johannesburg’s Northern Suburbs, oh and lots of great wine! It’s a great day of tasting South Africa’s best wines, picnicking and frolicking kids. Designated drivers get in free.

Free State Wine Show

Where: Emoya Luxury Hotel & Spa, 7 Kleynhans Avenue, Groenvlei, Bloemfontein
When: Thursday 30th and Friday 31st July
Website:
Free State Wine Show
What to expect: The third FNB Free State Wine Show, presented by wine authority Michael Fridjhon and the country’s premier national and regional wine festivals organisers, will create a wine lovers paradise with a impressive array of award-winning wines. Best of all, you get to taste every single one! Enjoy old favourites, discover new labels, stock your own cellars thanks to the excellent prices available through the Shop@Show facility. Come meet the people who produce these fabulous wines. Wine accessories, luxury stemware, olives, olive products and artisanal products are all available for tasting and purchasing as well.

The Hantam Vleisfees

Where: Calvinia, Northern Cape
When: 28-30 August
Website: Hantam Vleisfees
What to expect: For R30 you can get a sheep’s head cooked to perfection at the Hantam Vleisfees. A mere bagatelle really. This festival exists to celebrate meat, sheep in particular as Calvinia is sheep country. The best Karoo lamb with its unique herby flavour comes in all sorts of cuts and cooked in as many different ways as there are tannies to cook them. When you’re not enjoying the best lamb on earth there’s also the Miss Vleisfees competition, the music concert, the street party and the vintage car rally.

The Pick n Pay Taste of Jo’burg

Where: Montecasino, Johannesburg
When: 25 – 28 September
Website: Taste of Jo’burg
What to expect: This exhibition is so loved by dedicated foodies that is become more of a Restaurant Festival in spirit. Four days of some of the country’s finest food and drink all in one place. Demonstrations by the twelve of the city’s top restaurants and chefs, dozens of displays and stands by local restaurants, niche food exhibitors, artisan producers, premium drink brands and award-winning wineries, and interactive cooking programmes all using seasonal and first-class ingredients. This year will see a host of new and exciting foodie attractions. There’s bound to be something to get you salivating!

The Good Food and Wine Show

Where: The Dome, Johannesburg
When: 23 – 26 July
Website: Good Food and Wine Show
What to expect: Good Food & Wine Show 2015 brings you iconic international and local celebrity chefs showcasing their incredible culinary talent. There will be plenty of opportunity for learning about, and tasting, the best gourmet food South Africa has to offer. Learn new cooking tricks, get foody inspired and enjoy the drama of the interactive chef masterclasses. Never mind your taste-buds, all five senses are going to rejoice as you dive into this aromatic and flavourful experience with wine, craft beer, decadent cakes, sweets and delicious food.

The Spier Secret Festival

Where: Spier Wine Farm, Stellenbosch
When: 25 – 26 October
Website: Spier Secret Festival
What to expect: This year will be the fourth annual Spier Secret Festival. The secret to the Spier Festival is its uniqueness. Yes, there’s a market – think salted caramel ice cream, yes, there’s food – secret dinners at the private homes of your hosts, top South African foodies, yes, there’s wine – it is after all on one of South Africa’s award winning wine farms, but at Spier it’s a whole new experience. The Festival focuses on ethical production, sustainable practices and trends and this year sees the launch of a bakery and café run by one of South Africa’s top chefs, a farmer’s market and a boutique estate wine cellar. You can also enjoy an “interactive eating experience” with the world’s first eating designer – something no other South African festival has to offer as well as a lecture from one of the founders of bio-dynamic farming.

Diemersfontein Pinotage on Tap

Where: Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town
When: Joburg: 29th August,
Durban: 19 September,
Cape Town: 10 October
Website: Diemersfontein Pinotage on Tap
What to expect: Goodie bags, Coffee Chocolate Pinotage – on tap, lunch, mind-blowing desserts, live music from Grassy Spark, Crash Car Burn, Howie Combrink, Majozi. And for a mere R515 extra you’ll get a case of Pino!

The Season of Sauvignon

Where: Durbanville Wine Valley, Cape Town
When: 5 – 6 October
Website: Seasons of Savignon
What to expect: Summer, Sauvignon and Simonsberg – that’s what a summer festival should be about and this one is! All weekend you can enjoy sampling all the most delicious Sauvignon in the Durbanville area, as well as the awesome cheeses from Simonsberg, the Festival’s official cheese partner! Cheese and wine never tasted so good.

Robertson Wine on the River

Where: Goudmyn Farm, Breede River, East Coast
When: 16 – 18 October
Website: Wine on the River
What to expect: This idyllic open-air spring wine festival takes place in a beautiful setting; flowing river, bountiful vineyards, beautiful hills and shady poplar trees.  Along with the wine, there’s live music, picnics, olives, cheeses, olive oils and other local produce. Forty-five wineries from Ashton, Bonnievale, McGregor and Robertson will be showcasing more than 300 wines for you to savour.  You can purchase wine to enjoy at the Festival or to take home with you and its all at cellar price!

TOPS at Spar Bierfest

Where: Durban – Suncoast Boulevard, Marine Parade.
Johannesburg – Montecasino Boulevard, Fourways, Sandton
Cape Town – Newlands Brewery, 3 Main Rd, Newlands
When:  Durban – 4 -6 September
Johannesburg – 9 – 11, 16 -18 October
Cape Town – 6 – 8 November
Website: Spar Bierfest
What to expect: This is South Africa’s biggest beer festival! Apart from the vast quantities of frothy beer and delicious Bavarian food hand delivered by feisty frauleins, the festival also has a tum-thumping oompah band, loads of competitions including the award for best dressed King Ludwig and Princess Therese. Break out your lederhosen and come party in the 4000 seater Bavarian Brauhaus.

The Pecanwood Oktoberfest

Where: Midlands, KZN
When: TBC – Please check their website for more details
Website: Pecanwood Oktoberfest
What to expect: About 6 000 visitors! That’s what they’re expecting this year as the Pecanwood Oktoberfest is fast becoming one of South Africa’s most anticipated annual festivals. Along to the beats of an oompah band you can enjoy over 32 different types of craft beer to taste while devouring great German cuisine, as well as other beverage and food pairings to suit everyone. There’s also a large variety of both extreme and popular sports; the 20/40 km MTB challenge, the 4×4 technical challenge, the 7/14 KM trail run, the Enduro motorbike race, and the STIHL chainsaw show down. The Fest has been voted as the most versatile lifestyle festival in the country. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the Beer Pong Tournament winner gets a free trip to the Munich Oktoberfest!

Cape Town Beer Festival

Where: Hamilton’s Rugby Club, Green Point, Cape Town
When: November 27 – 29
Website: The Beer Merchant
What to expect: There will be at least 200 beers on show and you can enjoy tasting all of them! After a weekend of sipping and pondering a panel of judges will announce the Beer of the Festival.  There will be home brewing demos and amazing food all to the music of the live bands.

Finding Accommodation

If you’re not a local and you’re needing accommodation for any of the festivals, visit The Room Link as more and more B&Bs, Guesthouses and local landlords are listing their properties with us.  And if you’re a landlord, list your property today too!  Register now!