Spontaneous celebrations at the abolition of slavery in 1834 brought people onto the streets in marches, music and dancing. This tradition survives today in the form of the Cape Town Minstrels Carnival and the party really gets started on Tweede Nuwe Jarr (Second New Year), when thousands of minstrels march and sing loudly through the streets in colourful costumes and painted faces.
The actual date and final route of the march seems to be a very fluid thing and is probably on the 1st or 2nd of January. It’s best to check the website or phone for confirmation.
Tel: 021 761 5239 / 082 256 2427 for confirmation.
It’s free to watch and the parade starts at 10am from Kuizergracht Castle Bridge in District Six, down Darling St, left into Adderley, right into Wale St, and if they organisers have their way, it will proceed into Rose St and through the Bo-Kaap Cape Malay district.
This annual tradition of Cape Town’s Coloured community is still referred to by its original– politically incorrect name – “Coon Carnival”. It was originally influenced by American face-painted minstrels, but today it is more about who has the glitzier costumes, best dance moves, music and voices.
The Minstrel Carnival Competition is expected to take place at Athlone Stadium on Saturdays throughout January and early February, as well as Wednesday 3 January, (these dates still need to be confirmed). Dance troupes treat the competition very seriously and vie for prizes for the most flamboyant performance, the best-dressed troupe, the best overall singer and the best band.
The Minstrels Parade is one of the most colourful affairs in Cape Town and generations after generation have taken part in this parade.