The festive Season in Cape Town can be a bit of a culture shock for visitors from the Northern Hemisphere. Christmas shopping in shorts and sunglasses might seem a bit weird at first, but it’s not too hard to get into the swing of things. Here are a few tips to get you prepared for Christmas and New Year’s Eve in the Mother City.

Christmas Markets

There’s nothing to get you in the festive spirit like a Christmas Market. Warm lights, the sound of carols and the scent of spices and deep-fried indulgence will warm your heart as you fill your stomach and your shopping bags.

Addderly Street Night Market

Do your Christmas shopping under Cape Town’s festive city lights. Situated in the heart of town the Adderley Street Christmas Market allows you to get in the festive mood with Christmas gifts, tasty treats and live music. The market opens on the 17 December and runs until 30 December.

Kloovenburg Christmas Market Day

Indulgent treats and flavourful local produce make the journey to the charming valley of Riebeek Kasteel well worth it. On 17 December the Kloovenburg Wine and Olive Christmas Market Day allows you to savour the produce of this fertile valley. This day outing is a great opportunity to treat your taste buds and find some unique presents for your loved ones.

Restaurant Specials

Cape Town’s chefs show off their culinary skills as many restaurants around the Mother City and the Western Cape offer multi-course Christmas Lunches and New Year’s Eve Dinners. Be sure to book well in advance. Myoga and La Mouette also offer good value tasting menus giving you’re an ideal opportunity to quietly get together with friends before the extended family arrives.


Situated in the elegant Vinyard Hotel Myoga not only offers great mountain views but also some of the best cuisine in Cape Town. The 7 course tasting meal takes you through a colourful variety of flavours at R195 per person. The 6 course Christmas Lunch gives an innovative twist to traditional flavours at R495 per person. The New Year’s Eve Dinner offer 7 courses of indulgence at R750 per person.

La Mouette

Lovers of French cuisine should not miss the flavourful creations of La Mouette in Sea Point. Christmas Lunch at R350 and New Year’s Eve Dinner at R495 are great value for money. The 6 course December Tasting menus offer palatable treats with an optional wine pairing. The Seafood Tasting menu comes at R295 (R540 including the wine pairing), the vegetarian option is R195 (R390).

Carols by Candle Light

Every year the Rotary Club of Kirstenbosch organises this fundraiser for charities across the Mother City. The Cape Town Concert Brass and the Cape Town Male Voice Choir will perform traditional Christmas Carols. As you sit with your candle in the beautiful garden of Kirstenbosch give yourself a pat on the back for getting into the spirit of giving as your entrance fee contributes to the charities.


  • 15 December – Adults R50, Children (6-18yrs) R30, Kids (2-5) R5
  • 16, 17, 18 December – Adults R60, Children (6-18yrs) R40, Kids (2-5) R10

Boxing Day on the Beach

The influx of Capetonians to the beaches around the city’s beaches on Boxing Day is equalled in size only by the Wildebeest migration in the Serengeti. Pack a cooler box and head to one of the Mother City’s beaches if you want to partake in a proper Capetonian Christmas Tradition. Beaches on Boxing Day are also great people watching; people who usually don’t even go near the ocean timidly wade into the waves.

New Year’s Eve parties

New Year’s Eve on Table Mountain

Get the very best view of the fireworks from the top of Table Mountain. The Cable Car will take you up the mountain until 11pm on 31 December and the last car down is at 1am on 1 January in the new year.  A return ticket is R97.50 for Adults and R47.50 for children. You can pack your own snacks and champagne or visit the Table Mountain Café.

New Year’s Eve at Kirstenbosch with Prime Circle

The 2011 New Year’s Concert will be headlined by South African band Prime Circle. Rocking into the new year at Kirstenbosch has become a tradition in Cape Town. Take along some good friends and pack your picnic and champagne. Prime Circle is one South Africa’s most popular band and will be supported by Idols winner Elvis Blue and No One’s Arc. Tickets are R250 each and can be bought online.

Rock the River

If one day of partying isn’t enough to get you into the new year, the Cape Town Ostrich Ranch offers you a whole rock festival. Rock the River from 31 December to 2 January has more than 100 music acts. With loads of activities, Braai areas, swimming, prize give-aways and a ‘Float your Boat’ competition, this New Year’s Festival promises to be tons of fun.

Cape Town Minstrel Carnival

Also known as Kaapse Klopse, the Minstrel Carnival is one of Cape Town’s most unique and colourful traditions. Every year on 2 January thousands of minstrels gather in the area formerly known as District Six and parade to the Cape Town Stadium. The musicians are divided into clubs, each of them showing off their unique and colourful costumes. With banjos, trumpets and tambourines the Klopse dance and shimmy their way through the Mother City. This tradition is unique to the coloured community of Cape Town and the smiles and the energy of the performers is positively contagious.

Have you ever spent the festive season in Cape Town? What are your favourite memories? Please share in the comment section!