Categories > Guides and Tips

Southern Fun Top Festivals in South Africa

Southern Fun: Top Festivals in South Africa

South Africa stands at the forefront of captivating and enjoyable festivals, ranging from lively music events to a diverse array of cultural celebrations. 

If you’re looking to dance the night away or fly some kites with your siblings, here’s a list of the best festivals in South Africa you shouldn’t miss out on!

1. New Year’s Festival of Light

Address: Bethesda Arts Centre, Bethesda Arts Centre, Muller Street, Nieu Bethesda, Karoo Heartland, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Contact: +27 (0)49 841-1731

The New Year’s Festival of Light is a charming community festival organized by the Bethesda Arts Center in the picturesque town of Niue Bethesda. Here, attendees stroll beneath the sky, witnessing the illumination of countless lanterns.

This annual tradition encourages individuals to craft their lanterns in workshops or commission an artist to create one for them. These lanterns are then paraded into the night, creating a beautiful display of lights. 

Pro tip:
Following the parade, participants can indulge in a plentiful feast at the Bethesda Arts Center. Attendees can treat themselves to a variety of food options, including braai and traditional South African desserts.

2. The Smoking Dragon New Year Festival


Address: Amphitheatre Lodge, R74, Bergville, KwaZulu-Natal

Contact: ​​​​​​+27(0)768227508

Price: R 695

The Drakensberg stands out as one of the most stunning mountain ranges in Lesotho, offering an ideal setting for The Smoking Dragon New Year Festival. This annual festival is teeming with loud music, fun games, and a myriad of enjoyable activities.

Each year adds something new to the mix, such as last year’s pop-up listening bars where you could enjoy reggae music while trying some CBD-infused goodies. Past performers like Majozi left many dancing and grooving, so expect something similar.

Held at the Amphitheater Backpackers Lodge, this festival showcases four stages with a lineup of 40 acts. The organizers also provide various amenities, such as campsites that come equipped with hot showers, a sauna, a rock pool, and more.

Pro tip:
After a long day of partying and having fun, if you’ve rented out a campsite, we recommend taking a dip in the jacuzzi. The campsites here come with their own jacuzzis, providing a great place to relax and rest.

3. Revolution New Year Open Air Music Festival

Address: Gauteng, South Africa

Contact: +27 82 900 7107

Price: R 380

If you’re in Gauteng, we suggest checking out the Revolution Music Festival, an annual outdoor event featuring an exhilarating three-day music extravaganza. Visitors can enjoy numerous performances by international artists, dozens of DJs, and live shows.

The event guarantees an immersive experience with mesmerizing UV decor and impressive sound and lighting effects. Moreover, attendees can take advantage of various amenities, including tent zones and areas for hot showers and pools.

Every year brings in a new set of performers, but you can expect to hear vibrant electronic music similar to that of artists like Kinetika and Tensor, who have performed here in the past.

Pro tip:
If you’re looking for a place to grab a drink and spice up your night of music, we suggest heading to the festival’s licensed bar, which serves a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

4. Secrets Of Summer Festival

Address: Cape Town, South Africa

Price: R 390

Secrets of Summer distinguishes itself as a prominent festival in South Africa, which has featured performances from artists like G-EAZY and Zakes Bantwini. This festival boasts four mega dance floors where you can dance to music all night long.

Throughout the event, you can immerse yourself in the music within a specially created oasis, surrounded by friends and family. The oasis is adorned with soft beach sand, palm trees, day beds, splash pools, and even geodesic domes for relaxation.

Pro tip:
If you’re looking to grab some tickets early, there are several websites—like this one—selling Secrets of Summer Festival tickets as early as January for R 350.

5. Knysna Oyster Festival


Address: Knysna Central, Knysna, 6570, Garden Route, Western Cape, South Africa

Contact details: 27 (0)44 382 5510

The Knysna Oyster Festival offers a multitude of outdoor activities, wine tasting, live music, and, of course, oysters. This fun festival is an ideal choice for those craving an adrenaline rush, featuring sports events such as running, golfing, and cycling.

For those more inclined to exercise their taste buds, there’s an opportunity to savour fine spirits and wines.

Pro tip:
If you’re in the mood for some sporting action, we suggest participating in the Knysna Cycle Tour, which includes both a mountain bike and road bike race.

6. AfrikaBurn Festival 


Address: Tankwa Karoo, R355, Quaggafontein, Western Cape, 8190

Price: R 499

If you love the arts and music, consider attending the AfrikaBurn Festival, which takes place during winter. This festival transforms the tranquil desert of the Western Cape into a vibrant party place with music, artistic sculptures, and more.

Here, you’ll encounter a diverse range of experiences, from groovy jazz performances to huge mesmerizing sculptures. Also, keep an eye out for “mutant vehicles,” which are intricate working automobiles crafted from random items like couches and fridges.

Pro tip:
While at the festival, we suggest dropping by a theme camp, which is a little space where you can experience a plethora of different activities like body painting, drinking, and even dancing. 

7. National Arts Festival 


Address: National Arts Festival, 1820 Settlers Monument, Fort Selwyn Drive, Makhanda, 6139

Contact details: +27 (0) 46 603 1103

For individuals keen on experiencing the rich culture of South Africa, we recommend attending the annual National Arts Festival. This event has over 700 performances that turn Makhanda into a vibrant haven teeming with local talent, tradition, and culture.

At this festival, you can experience a myriad of performances, spanning from lively jazz music to exhilarating dance performances and compelling theatre productions. There are also fun sub-festivals like Maiscule, which celebrate the beauty of voice.

Pro tip:
If you’re an avid shopper, we suggest you visit the festival’s markets, where you can buy jewellery, clothing, rugs, handmade telephones, and much more. 

8. Ballito Rage Festival


Address: D173 Esenembi Rd, Dolphin Coast, 4399, South Africa

Contact details: +27 66 492 8558

Price: R900

For music enthusiasts seeking a vibrant December activity, we recommend The Ballito Rage Festival. It’s one of South Africa’s largest and most favoured youth festivals (only open to those aged 18 and above).

The festival typically features a diverse lineup of EDM and hip-hop artists, beach parties, club events, and other entertainment. Attendees can look forward to captivating performances by both local and international artists, DJs, and bands.

In the past, the event was graced by performances from Ricky Rick and Yan Solo as well as recurring artists like Nasty C, who performed in both the 2019 and 2021 festivals.

Pro tip:
To secure more affordable tickets for the Ballito Rage Festival, consider checking Facebook Marketplace, where you can find tickets priced between 700 and 800 rand.

9. Franschhoek Cap and Champagne Festival 


Address: 13 Lambrechts Rd, Franschhoek, 7690, South Africa

Contact details: +27 66 224 6360

Price: R350 – R450

If you find yourself in Franschhoek, don’t miss the annual Franschhoek Cap and Champagne Festival. This event typically takes place at Huguenot Gardens and holds significant popularity.

Here, you can enjoy tasting fine spirits from over 20 local producers, showcasing some of the country’s finest Cap Classiques. The festival also offers a vibrant atmosphere, complemented by live acoustic music from great artists like Watershed in the past. 

Pro tip:
Consider dressing in your best attire, as the event presents an opportunity for attendees to compete for the best-dressed title.

10. Afropunk Fest Joburg 


Address: Johannesburg, South Africa 


  • R400 – R900

Afropunk Fest Joburg is a dynamic celebration that encompasses music, art, fashion, and activism. With a diverse lineup spanning R&B, punk rock, and hip-hop, the festival showcases an eclectic mix of sounds from both local and international artists.

Embracing the spirit of art, attendees express their unique identities through bold fashion choices, artistic hairstyles, and vibrant accessories. As you have fun dancing to the beats, you’ll find yourself surrounded by graffiti and visual art at every turn.

Pro tip:
We recommend exploring the food stalls and vendors in the vicinity. Afropunk Fest consistently features an array of food from local vendors, like Longtom Foods.

11. Klein Karoo National Kunstefees 


Address: 217 Jan Van Riebeeck Rd, Oudtshoorn, 6620

Contact: +27 (0)44 203-8600

Each year in Oudtshoorn, the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival draws in thousands of art lovers, offering a week filled with dance, film, cabaret, music, and poetry mainly delivered in Afrikaans.

For eight days straight, attendees can relish in more than 200 shows, featuring the works of over 750 artists.

Pro tip:
If you’re with children, you can take them to the festival’s puppet show, face-painting stalls, and storytelling booths to keep them entertained. 

12. Oppikoppi Bushveld Festival 

Address: North West Province, South Africa, Africa

Contact details: +27 54 452 9205

The Oppikoppi Bushveld Festival boasts three thatched stages, a main music stage, a compact comedy stage, and a stage for chill music. Focusing on South African bands, it’s become a platform for emerging local artists.

This event spans a diverse array of genres such as jazz, world music, house music, and acoustic sets. 

Pro tip:
It’s a popular tradition among attendees to go camping here and you’ll find hundreds of people pitching tents for the night.

13. Splashy Fen 


Address: Spekboom, South Africa

Contact: +27 42 233 8600

Price: R200 – R600

Starting in the 1990s, the Splashy Fen music festival is held annually and presents a lineup featuring over 70 of the nation’s top artists, various outdoor activities, arts and crafts, and food. 

Initially focusing on folk, light folk rock, mbaqanga (rhythmic music with chants and drums), and iscathamiya (a Zulu singing style similar to acapella), the festival has recently expanded to more genres. 

Pro tip:
Since the festival takes place near a river, make sure to bring some beachwear with you. It’s become a festival tradition for people to jump into the river and chill when the sun starts to shine. 

14. Hermanus Whale Festival 


Address: 79 Marine Dr, Hermanus, 7200, South Africa

Contact: +27 66 478 0081

The Hermanus Whale Festival is South Africa’s only enviro-arts festival, and it’s a celebration of the southern right whales’ return to Walker Bay. This festival draws in thousands of visitors annually to watch whales and enjoy a multitude of fun activities. 

Attendees can enjoy the unique natural environment and indulge in music, comedy, cabaret, and African rhythms. 

Pro tip:
While you’re here, you can also buy all sorts of cute whale-themed goods and merchandise at the festival’s craft market. 

15. Aardklop Arts Festival


Address: Potchefstroom, South Africa

Every year, the Aardklop festival takes place in the North West province. While centred on the Afrikaans language and culture, Aardklop is a celebration of the arts accessible to all languages.

Hosted in the university town of Potchefstroom, it offers a five-day extravaganza featuring classical music, jazz, theatre, circus performances, opera, and poetry, culminating in the lively OppiAarde rock festival on the last day.

Pro tip:
The festival also includes a sizable arts and craft market, where you can buy all sorts of trinkets and items like art supplies, pictures, paintings, and sketches.

16. South African Cheese Festival 


Address: Sandringham Farm Sandringham Road Stellenbosch, Cape Town, 7600, South Africa

Price: R190 – R550

For all the cheese lovers out there, we encourage you to visit the annual South African Cheese Festival in Stellenbosch. At this cheesy festival, you can savor delectable offerings from local and international cheesemakers.

Moreover, you can partake in various activities, including cooking demos and pop-up picnics, making it an excellent family outing. There’s also live music on the lawn, adding to the vibrancy of this festival.

Pro tip:
We recommend wearing boots at the festival, as the venue has gained a reputation for having a consistently muddy environment over the last few years.

17. Cape Town International Kite Festival

Address: Cape Mental Health, 22 Ivy St, Observatory, Cape Town, 7925, South Africa

Contact: +27 21 447 9040

Operating hours: Monday to Friday: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Since 1994, the annual kite festival at Zandvlei Nature Reserve has had a dual purpose: promoting mental health awareness and fundraising. It’s an excellent choice for those seeking outdoor family time without engaging in overly strenuous activities.

The festival features impressive kite displays, kite-making workshops, live music, and tasty treats from local vendors. Most of all, you can sit back and relax while watching a spectacular array of kites in all shapes, sizes, and colours float across the sky

Pro tip:
Don’t miss the annual Edukite Competition where students with special educational needs show off their best kite creations for a chance to win a cash prize.

18. Ficksburg Cherry Festival

Media from annlyne_bosman

Address: Ficksburg Cherry Festival Grounds, 1 Shawground Road, Ficksburg, 9730, Free State, South Africa

Known as the oldest crop festival in South Africa, the Ficksburg Cherry Festival is celebrated for its cherry product competitions. Like the cheese and kite festivals, the Ficksburg Cherry Festival is a go-to for many families looking for all-inclusive fun.

Aside from its competitions, the event offers cherry tours and marathons for those looking for a more muscle-engaging activity. You can also try cherry-picking and visit various stalls serving food and beverages.

Pro tip:
If you’re with some hyperactive kids who can’t stop moving around, we suggest taking them around the festival to partake in some fun family-friendly games. 

Related topics