The Grahamstown National Arts Festival, organised by the Grahamstown Foundation attracts over 50 000 people each year and is South Africa’s biggest arts and culture festival. Arts, music, theatre and crafts take centre stage and over 500 different performances, ranging from music to dance and opera are on display.
This year, the festival will take place at various locations around the Eastern Cape town of Grahamstown. Enjoy street performances, buskers and performance art; take in a ballet or opera; party all night or enjoy a quiet walk through one of the many and varied art exhibitions; or just take in a movie at the annual film festival. Regardless, the National Arts Festival is a thoroughly engaging, entertaining and educational way to take a winter’s vacation and indulge in the artier side of life
The programme is divided between the main and fringe performance programmes, with the fringe representing the more independent and upcoming artists and performers. A more recent addition to the Arts Festival in Grahamstown has been the incorporation of the township and its culture into the festival via township tours. The festival programme and setup changes every year, always offering something different. The special children’s programme caters purely for youth, leaving adults time to take in the vast assortment of entertainment available.
Every part of the town gets involved in the action and anyone that has something to offer is encouraged to participate. Every building that can be, is utilised for performance space and locals rent out their houses to festival goers.
The village green lies centrally in the town and can also be considered the centre of the festival; transformed daily into a huge market place where tickets can be bought for events and entertainers can market themselves to the public. The green has a vast assortment of foods and crafts available, not to mention the beer tent, a popular socialising spot for festival goers to meet people and discuss the ups and downs of the festival.
Accommodation in Grahamstown over the festival becomes hard to come by, so be sure to book well ahead of time so you can enjoy the eccentric, art-filled and all-round amazingly unique experience it promised to be.