You have heard of the Rio Carnival. You have certainly heard of the New Orleans Mardi Gras. These great events of the world take place in February every year. But did you know that Cape Town also boasts its own fabulous Carnival Parade? Not in February, but in March.
Make no mistake, the Cape Town Carnival rivals its Rio and New Orleans counterparts but, dare we say, it might be better as it is infused with the vibrant spirit that is unique to Africa.
The Cape Town Carnival will dominate the streets of the city for one day only – Saturday, 18 March – but preparations began a year ago when artists, musicians, performers, singers, and creators from around the Western Cape started working on their float and costume designs, their choreography and their melodies. That is what it takes to produce a spectacular carnival.
The Cape Town Carnival will commence around 3 pm in Green Point when Somerset Road is transformed into a pedestrian paradise with music, food stalls, entertainment and revelers dressed in costumes. The Green Point Fan Walk parade will officially begin at 7 pm. This whole event is completely free of charge to encourage Capetonians from all walks of life to fill the stands, pavements and buses to watch thousands of performers and floats take to the streets. It is a spectacular show that does not disappoint. This year, there are 54 different groups of participants, moving sculptures, puppets, floats and more than 2500 costumed performers. The city anticipates that tens of thousands of spectators, including thousands of tourists, will line the streets, adding to the fun-filled, lively atmosphere.
The fun does not end after the parade. There is a family party that rocks from 10 to 12pm at the Cape Town Carnival Village. The party features some of South Africa’s best singers, musicians and DJs and, as usual, this year will also feature a famous headliner. You can enjoy the live music while exploring the diversity of local food and drinks vendors.
Although the carnival parade is free, those who wish to purchase VIP tickets can do so. VIP hospitality tickets cost R1 450 and include access to a raised viewing platform, delicious finger foods, a bar and security. If you are looking for seating only, R395 will buy you a bird’s eye view on several different stands along the fan walk.
The Cape Town Carnival is certainly an exciting way to experience the diverse variety of African cultural identities, traditions and creative expressions that draw inspiration from isiXhosa, seSotho, isiZulu and Ndebele styles and adornments. The 2023 theme is Afr’energy and the carnival will culminate in the unveiling of the AfroFuture float, that imagines the city of tomorrow in a positive way.
Let’s just say that parties, crowds and carnivals are not for you, then March is still a fabulous time to visit Cape Town. The weather is mostly warm and sunny, offering plenty of beach days to enjoy the last rays of summer. Local holidays are over, giving March visitors easy access to all the iconic spots, sights, and experiences – from a cableway ride to the top of Table Mountain or a wine-tasting tour of Constantia to a guided tour of Robben Island and Nelson Mandela’s famous prison cell. Cape Town awaits!