Just about everything written about Cape Town is unanimous in one respect – the Mother city is one of the world’s hot spots – so it isn’t exactly a bolt from the blue that British Airways’ customers have rated Cape Town as one of their top 10 places to visit this Christmas.
Who wouldn’t want to visit a city that combines balmy summer days, an wonderfully impressive mountain that serves as a magnificent backdrop to just about all that one does in the popular city, incredible beaches, notable cultural attractions, and just for good measure, a couple of excellent wine routes within the city’s leafy suburbs?
There are, of course, other reasons to visit Cape Town: The city has the highest density of Cape Dutch style buildings in the world; The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, which lies on top of part of the docks of the port of Cape Town, provides hours of shopping and entertainment that includes the Nelson Mandela Gateway through which ferries regularly leave for Robben Island; and the annual Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, also known as the Kaapse Klopse, graces the streets of the city on January 2 – the uniquely attired minstrels, their colourful faces and tassled parasols, and cacophony of banjo tunes enough reason to visit Cape Town during the festive season!
It’s understandable that over seven million visitors head to Cape Town between December and March – Camps Bay beat Spain’s perpetually buzzing Ibiza in the list of Top 8 Topless Beaches in the World in 2005 (Forbes.com), the BBC voted it one of 50 Places to See Before You Die, and in and around the city there are no fewer than seven Blue Flag status beaches to bolster its already very far from flagging reputation.
Cape Town’s already enlivened and trendy night life that caters for all tastes and sexual preferences gains new impetus around this time of year, particularly when it comes to music, which seems to infuse every little sidewalk and restaurant with an extra dose of chill to the already ultra relaxed city. And there’s a lot to choose from: funky bars along the Camps Bay strip are ideal for sundowners; Long Street is a heady mix of diverse entertainment and restaurants; the Cape Quarter in Green Point has a plethora of wine bars and restaurants; and trendy Kloof Street buzzes in the evenings. Cape Town’s gay village, De Waterkant, is rife with numerous à la mode cafés, bars, clubs and restaurants; and the southern suburbs are littered with vibey little pockets like Obz, where Lower Main and Station Road have a lively atmosphere, and the little fishing village of Kalk Bay, where a mix of quirky, bohemian restaurants is very fashionable.
Rarely does a week go by without several happenings or events somewhere in the city, and the outdoor summer sunset concerts at Kirstenbosch, including a series of carols by candlelight, are a Sunday staple. The Adderley Street Night Market from 17 – 30 December is an eclectic mix of local crafts, food, gifts, jewellery, clothes and innumerable balloon benders, magicians and street performers. The Baxter Theatre sees a long-awaited return to the stage of David Kramer – the red velskoen-and-interesting-socks clad Afrikaans musician most notable for musicals on Cape coloured culture, like District Six and the Volkswagen adverts – and even Winnie the Pooh gets a look in at the Artscape Theatre. Maynardville this summer is hosting The Merchant of Venice with Gisele the ballet on Sunday evenings, and Madame Zingara’s Theatre of Dreams is an authentic, vintage circus act that combines dinner and a show – a treat for any visitor to the Mother city. (see www.SA-Venues.com for Current and upcoming events)
Christmas in Cape Town is a merry, friendly affair, and one during which the city comes alive – Adderley Street is lined with festive lights, you can join the locals on Greenmarket Square for a round of Christmas carol singing, or Carols by Candlelight at the Company Gardens, or attend the Mother City Queer Project party – a week-long, flamboyant gay festival that is raising funds for education. There’s very little, actually, that Cape Town doesn’t have …