First Thursdays allow you to stroll among the shops, art galleries, restaurants and bars of Cape Town’s CBD after nightfall. Places that usually closed after dark are open to the public. Things usually get started at 6pm. First Thursdays celebrate everything about arts and culture in Cape Town. It all goes down on the First Thursday of every month hence the name. It is steadily growing with restaurants and bars adding amazing food and drinks specials to the mix. There are short films played at the Labia Theater. You can listen to live music at the Motherland Night market. Some of the venues along the First Thursday route offer free wine, beer and occasionally champagne. There’s free food at times as well. I’m heading off to celebrate the last First Thursday of this year tonight and figured sharing my past experiences might be helpful if you plan on going.
What to do at First Thursdays?
As mentioned before places are open after hours. You can shop, eat, drink, dance, view brilliant artwork or if you are lucky to see a comedy show. The line up of First Thursdays changes regularly. I have been to a furniture store where I had free champagne whilst exploring the rooftop garden on the shop. On the same night marvelled at a lightbox installation after staring at an exhibition which featured images of what Tuberculosis looks like under a microscope. On another First Thursday, my sister and I enjoyed free delicious wine, finger foods and a comedy show by top comedian Rob Rabinowitz. The show poked fun at Cape Town’s water crisis in a refreshing way. This time around I might catch a movie and or dance at a silent disco. To sum it all up if you are going to attend download the route for the night or grab a map at one of the host venues. After that fun, it’s what First Thursdays is all about.
What to wear?
Anything you want to. The event is causal remember you will be walking around from venue to venue. Some of the places are spread out a bit far from each other at times. I saw a lot of denim shorts last time I went during summer time with my friend Amourelle. I spotted people wearing work attire. There’s no dress code to enter the spaces. If you want to dress up go ahead if not be then don’t. Just be comfortable, check the weather report Cape Town has fierce winds when it feels like it. Prepare yourself with a light warm jacket if the report shows that it’s going to be windy. I’d also recommend you take a smaller bag; backpacks aren’t normally evening styled bags in Cape Town though.
Who will be there?
First Thursdays is a melting pot. There are young and older people. Families, single people, couples, kids, and artists obviously, musicians, university students, and professionals all attend. The point of First Thursdays is to get people interested in art, to make art accessible to all and to reclaim the streets of the city. The initiative has accomplished all three aims and it is flourishing. There seems to be a trend of party animals joining the bandwagon to who go specifically for the drinks specials. Some of the bars and restaurants include art exhibits and live music which blends art and getting tipsy perfectly together ha ha.
Where to find the First Thursdays route?
Cape Town: https://first-thursdays.co.za/cape-town/
Instagram photos of First Thursdays in South Africa: https://www.instagram.com/firstthursdays_za/
Tips for First Thursdays
Like I said anything goes when it comes to your outfit. Just be mindful of the fact that Cape Town’s city center does have cobblestone paved walkways at times. Some spots on the route require a lot of walking to get to them. Wear good shoes takkies (sneakers) or comfy wedge heels like my friend Amourelle did.
Walk the route, you can take a cab but it would be a waste of money and time. Sometimes streets are closed off. This time Bree Street will be closed for an epic street party. People are walking in the streets to plus the distances don’t warrant getting a ride.
Parking gets snapped up fast on First Thursdays. My suggestion is to get there early it’s the only way you will be guaranteed parking.
Choose 3 or 4 places you want to see. Tick them off then try to see more. The event is popular so some places might get full. This is why you need to plan a little.
Try to choose places to see which are close to each other this makes for less walking and more viewing.
Have back up spots in mind in case the places you find yourself at are crowded.
To avoid disappointment and get free drinks yay! Go early at the TB exhibit Amourelle and I got offered drinks by highly enthusiastic organizers multiple times. We got there first and no one else was there which made all the difference.
If you visit a shop you don’t have to buy anything. You can simply view. It is nice to support if you want to and can.
Remember you can’t take photos inside of every shop ask for permission. The same goes for artwork as some artists may not want photos taken of their creations. Be respectful of the wishes of the creators as they have put lots of effort into creating pieces to add to First Thursdays.
Still do charge your phone, camera and if you can take a power bank. There are many things which you can take photos of. I could take photos and videos when I went. It is really exciting and interesting; the atmosphere truly makes for wonderful images.
Be safe, First Thursdays is relatively safe as many people are walking around, just don’t be flashy. It is still Cape Town and unfortunately, there are crime hot spots in the city. Long street is known for pickpocketing, Bree and Kloof to. Keep your possessions close, don’t give money to people who are begging (it’s often a distraction ploy to get your wallet, phone etc.) and be aware of your surroundings.
If you had an abundance of free wine get a uber, taxify or cab back home or to your hotel. Drinking and driving is silly and you won’t want your First Thursday to be your last Thursday ever.
All the places on the route are free to enter no catches. Do take some along though; you might want to buy something like a gorgeous painting or a tasty meal after all the walking.
As a solo female traveller I recommend First Thursdays in Cape Town to all solo travellers. You are safe, you get free food and drinks at times, and you get to see art, movies and more. The fact that you will be looking at art etc means you are busy which makes the solo part less intimidating for first-time solo travellers.
Right now that’s all I can think of. I will update this post possibly if I come up with more tips. And I clearly highly recommend First Thursdays.
Thank you for reading. Does your city celebrate First Thursdays? Have you been? Let me know. I love reading comments on my blog. I’m open to chatting so feel free to share your thoughts.
Happy First Thursday!
xxx Nikki xxx