Throughout the year, Stellenbosch is abuzz with a wide range of festivals, concerts and events, particularly through the hot summer months. Whether you are from Cape Town or far beyond South Africa’s borders, you will be hard pressed not to find something that makes a trip to this historic and picturesque wine region a must. Here is a rundown of some of the town’s best annual offerings:
A trip to Stellenbosch without wine would be like a trip to Paris without Parisians. And there is no better time to revel in the area’s wine culture than at the annual midsummer wine festival. Over the course of ten days or so there are concerts, street parades and markets, before the festival culminates with a Wine Expo over the final weekend, where hundreds of local wine farms set up stalls offering free tastings. There is also a food tent with an array of local fare, and live music throughout the day. View the Stellebosch Wine Festival website.
Stellenbosch University comprises much of the Stellenbosch town centre and is as integral a part of the local culture as wine is, and the start of the new university year always brings with it a heightened sense of excitement to the area. Over the course of Jool week there are stage and street performances, fundraising events and no shortage of parties. For the young or the young at heart, sampling at least part of these festivities is a must.
Running throughout the university year, the Stellenbosch University music department puts on a host of first class classical and orchestral music evenings at the beautiful Endler Hall, featuring both music students and renowned local professionals. Buy your tickets via Computicket.
Over the course of ten days, Woordfees celebrates everything about ‘the word’ in Afrikaans language in as many ways as you might be able to imagine, whether its through poetry, drama, visual art or music. A variety of well-known local celebrities are invited to attend and perform along the lines of the annual theme and the event is growing in size and stature every year, and is also very family friendly. View the Woordfees website.
The Absa Cape Epic Race is held over eight days at the end of March and attracts professional and amateur cyclists from all over the globe. The race is roughly 800 kilometres long and covers some of the most beautiful and unspoilt parts of the Western Cape, though the route changes every year. This is an unforgettable African experience for any cycling aficionados. View the Cape Epic website.
This event is a local favourite, bringing the cream of the crop of the region’s cheese makers under one roof and drawing crowds of more than 30,000 over the course of a weekend. Whether blue cheese, camembert or good old Gouda is your cup of tea, there are tastings galore, not to mention live music and moonlit picnics, cooking demonstrations from SA’s top chefs and even a cheese carving competition. View the SA Cheese festival site.
Over a ten day stretch, this annual event looks to highlight talented young musicians and give them a chance to be coached by experts in the field and then perform on an internationally-recognized stage. Universities from around the world (including Austria, the USA, the UK and more) send representative student groups to attend the festival. As well as the concert performances there are also public master classes and a lecture series. View the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival site.
Ten days of fascinating and original documentaries, features and short films help showcase South Africa’s film talent and roll in the early days of summer at venues in both Cape Town and Stellenbosch. The theme for this year’s festival is ‘Reconciliation and the Acceptance of the Other’. The venues also host various special events, tributes and symposia through the duration of the festival. View the Cape Winelands Film Festival site.