December is the start of summer in Cape Town. Christmas in Cape Town means sunshine days and balmy nights. Locals even head to the beach after Christmas lunch. The day after Christmas see the coastlines packed with beach goers. Christmas isn’t as big as it is in Europe in Cape Town there’s still lots to offer in this post I will round up my favourite things to do in Cape Town during Christmas time. Because Christmas isn’t just about lounging at Camps Bay in Cape Town.
The lighting up of the Champagne tree
There’s a fairly new addition to Cape Town’s Christmas season which I got to see last year. And it’s a rather large tree made out of recycled champagne bottles. It is stunning and it stands tall at the Silo District of the V&A Waterfront. Tonight the 29th of November 2018 it will be lit up. There’s a ceremony taking place to celebrate the official lighting of this remarkable tree.
Carols by Candlelight
Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden is where you can hear Christmas carols at night. This annual event is done to raise funds for the Kirstenbosch Rotary Club. Glow sticks are handed out after sunset as Kirstenbosch does not allow any kind of open flame. This event is widely visited drawing in roughly 20,000 attendees so book soon if you don’t want to miss out. The Carols by Candlelight is starting tomorrow, Thursday the 13th of December 2018.
Switching on of the Christmas lights free concert
The first Sunday of December is when a massive free concert takes place to celebrate the switching on of the Christmas lights in Adderley Street in Cape Town. Various local acts take to the stage to entertain the crowd. You can buy gifts, food and other items at the stalls which line the street. The mayor of Cape Town switches on the lights after sunset. This event is starting at 4pm this Sunday the 2nd of December 2018.
See the Christmas lights
So you can go view Christmas lights in the CBD as mentioned above. There’s also colourful festive lights at Strand which happens to have a market too. The beach is close by so you can swim and sunbathe then see the Christmas lights afterwards. I need to get photos of those lights this year.
There are many Christmas markets and pop up markets in Cape Town during the festive season. On Saturday the 1st of December the Secret Christmas market will be happening. Tickets cost R20 or R30 at the door. There will be more than 80 different sellers at the market which will be selling different kinds of products. The market’s will kick off at the SARDA Centre on Brommersvlei Road in Constantia Heights . Seapoint city hall has a Christmas market every year. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens also has its own Christmas market running during December which sells food and crafts. The Good Company market which trades from the Company Gardens continues to operate during December and it’s an exciting place to be and find unusual gifts. Maynardville is hosting a pop up garden market check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/events/258664078095644/
Go to the ballet
The Artscape theatre is home to the Cape Town Ballet Company. You can watch the ballet at the theatre. Last year I went to see the Nutcracker. Tickets get sold quickly. I’m not sure if the Nutcracker will be performed again this year. I do know that there’s a Little mermaid ballet and Swing time ballet coming up this December.
Some people don’t celebrate Christmas others are anti Christmas and Submerged Sundays at Shimmy beach club is not a traditional festive event at all. The bar/restaurant/club becomes a superb live music venue featuring top South African acts such as Black Coffee and Goldfish. I have yet to visit as Shimmy is rather pricey. If you are looking for wonderful music at an upmarket venue don’t miss Submerged Sundays.
The Summer Concerts series
This series of open air concerts are free. Held at De Waal Park in Cape Town’s CBD I absolutely adore this initiative. It allows everyone in Cape Town to enjoy the music of the city. You can bring your own food and drinks and listen to quality performers whilst sitting on the grass or your lawn chair brought from home. The founder aimed to make music accessible and he has undeniably attained his goal. These concerts expose people to new kinds of music from local artists whilst bring together people from different walks of life. The positivity at these concerts made me happy, excited and thankful to be living in Cape Town.
Another one of those non Christmas things to do in Cape Town this year Boney M. played at Kirstenbosch. Boney M. is the band which is synonymous with Christmas music, which tends to be played on repeat in malls across South Africa during Christmas. International and local acts play at Kirstenbosch during summer time which coincides with Christmas in Cape Town and the view of the stage combined with the mountain is gorgeous.
Most hotels in the city create Christmas lunches which you can book. The average prices per person range from R300 to R600. Many wine estates also have a Christmas menu on offer. As I tend to be a budget traveller I have decided to share the offer of Beerhouse on Long. Beerhouse is a bar which sells beer hence Beerhouse.It’s offering a two course lunch at R150 per person you can eat smoked beef and gammon, roasted veggies and potatoes, finish off your meal with malva pudding and ice-cream. Malva pudding is a sweet South African dessert for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about. Beerhouse is located at Long Street and will be open from 11am till late on Christmas.
Do the obvious things
It’s summer during Christmas in Cape Town so go to the beach. Think Christmas at Camps Bay. It happens to be the ideal time to braai (barbecue) outside. A South African braai must be done on an open flame usually with wood and coals. Different sides and meat are prepared. A braai is an affair in itself. Some locals opt to skip traditional Christmas lunch and braai on Christmas day instead. If you plan on going to the beach or any public pool the day after Christmas do note that it will be overcrowded. It’s a tradition to go swimming the day after Christmas called Boxing Day or the Day of Goodwill in South Africa depending on who you ask. The traffic along the coast is often congested and it’s not worth braving unless you go to the beach really early to miss the crowds by some miracle.
Give this giving season
There’s a number of initiatives which seek to help those Capetonians which aren’t privileged enough to have elaborate Christmas lunches and gifts. Give a donation or volunteer your time to make a child’s Christmas memorable by supporting Santa’s Shoebox to sign up and learn more follow the link: https://santashoebox.org.za/
If you want to spread cheer this Christmas then head over to Hope Street in Greenpoint where you can help serve homeless people a meal and provide them with toiletries. This initiative is taking place on the 22nd of December 2018. More info will be posted at: http://www.vocfm.co.za/hope-street-giving-hope-to-the-homeless
You can even give a bit to help preserve history this holidays by donating to South African History Online (SAHO) . Every bit helps and your gift will allow the staff at SAHO to keep on doing a wonderful job. The history website gets 6 million views a year so it’s a quality online learning tool. Kindly follow the link if you are willing to help out: https://www.sahistory.org.za/donate
For more info on what to do around Christmas time in Cape Town see:
Thanks for reading and please share your thoughts with me. I need your comments to make my blog better so don’t hesitate to contact me.
Wishing you happy holidays and happy travels
xxx Nikki xxx