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The National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, Eastern Cape

The National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, Eastern Cape

The National Arts Festival, which takes place around the end of June over 15 days into July, is the biggest cultural festival in Africa and one of the biggest in the world. As more than 50,000 visitors flock to town, they are treated to a variety of established and new, local as well as imported talent.

Every hall or large room becomes a theatre, parks and sport fields become flea markets and every available bed in the city is booked. The festival offers more than 500 shows from opera, cabaret, drama and jazz, to stand-up comics and folk music.

There is also a popular children’s art program for those between the ages of four and 13 which aims at educating the youth in arts. The daily schedule is drawn up by arts education specialists and includes music, dance, drama and handcraft workshops, festival productions, lunchtime concerts, exhibitions and visits to the craft markets. There is also evening entertainment for those enrolled in the Boarding Program.

While many come to take in the arts, others simply want to be here for the spectacle or to market their products, ranging from tie-dyed T-shirts and woven rugs to handmade jewellery and customised telephones. The festival operates out of the 1820 Settlers National Monument and is organised by the Grahamstown Foundation.

Other annual events in Makhanda (name changed in June 2018 from Grahamstown) include the National SciFest in March, the Freedom Festival in April, The Eastern Cape Eisteddfod in May and the National Schools festival in July.

Visit the official website of the National Arts Festival! For other activities in Makhanda (previously Grahamstown), visit ShowMe Grahamstown.




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