How to enjoy Cape Town Carnival a guide from a local

The Cape Town Carnival is around the corner. This Mardi gras styled Carnival is free to attend. On the 16th of March the whimsical floats, dancers and marchers will be making a big splash along the Fan Walk in Green Point. The theme for this year’s Cape Town Carnival is- VUKA UKHANYE! Rise ‘n Shine. The theme for 2019is a call to all citizens to wake up and step up! Shake off limiting habits and ideas, unlock your power & potential and be all you can be”. More than 2 000 vibrant costumed performers and musicians will entertain locals and visitors. After the parade a family friendly after party will feature South Africa’s hottest performers.

Cape Town Carnival 2011
Cape Town Carnival 2011, The people pushing the float below are volunteers from my university

I was part of the carnival dressed up as a sailor girl waving from a boat float. I have been both sides of this event as a participant and a spectator. The great part of it is that it’s free and exhibits lots of creativity. Cape Town Carnival creates work for unemployed people in Cape Town albeit seasonal in some cases. To read more about how Cape Town Carnival is helping the community click here:

The bad side is that as a participant I realized that there’s a lot of poor management. I had three fittings for a costume and ended up wearing a dress which didn’t fit me properly and was obviously not custom made. My makeup was done horribly, thank goodness for my big sister who wiped half of it off. I got there too early ( I was told to get there at a ridiculous time) .My mom, sister and I spent a full day in the studio where we did nothing but, wait. Despite all of this I still had an awesome time waving at the crowd. People in Cape Town are so warm and friendly. Being part of the event meant I was volunteering for an organization which seeks to promote Cape Town and that was splendid. If you are going to attend here’s a few tips to help you have the best experience at cape Town Carnival.

1. Have fun

Dress up and enjoy yourself. Participants are encouraged to dress up even if you aren’t a performer. I would say a full costume isn’t the norm but put on a crazy wig. Maybe have your face painted or wear lots of Mardi Gras styled beads.

Cape Town carnival 2011
Cape Town Carnival 2011 that moment when I was upset about the poor management

2. Get there early

There are screens up around the street. But, if you are short like me or if you want to be able to take better photo’s try to get there early. Cape Town Carnival always draws in hundreds of spectators. Early celebrations start at 3pm. And the parade kicks off at 7pm. Alternatively you can grab a seat at a restaurant along the Fan Walk street which has upstairs seating that way you get to see the parade from above which is a fantastic way to see the Carnival.

Cape Town Carnival 2011
Letting go and smiling with the other performers

3. Wear comfy shoes

Certain streets will be blocked off to vehicles. Plus, you may want to walk along with the parade procession at times. The Fan Walk itself is a long stretch of road. Then there is the after party session with musicians and expect lots of dancing. A comfortable pair of shoes is essential to keeping your feet happy.

Behind the scenes of Cape Town carnival 2011
Behind the scenes of Cape Town carnival 2011

4. Don’t drink on the street

It’s illegal to drink in the streets in Cape Town. I will say I have seen people doing it. But, If you are going to do it be sneaky. Don’t walk around with your drink in your hand without checking for security. You may end up being fined R500 which is $34.84.

Jelly fish part of Cape Town Carnival
Jelly fish part of Cape Town Carnival, This was gorgeous to see live

5. Keep kids close

Hold the hands of young children. Keep kids close as it’s easy to get lost in this crowd. You may want to use a child harness even though I hate these harnesses in this case it might be a good idea.

6. Eat beforehand

There are stalls selling food but, because it’s so crowded it’s best to have something light to eat beforehand. You can also carry something to snack on with you. Have water as well. It gets hot in Cape Town you may get thirsty as you follow the parade. Bottled water in my city tends to be expensive so be prepared.

A yellow submarine part of Cape Town Carnival
A yellow submarine part of Cape Town Carnival maybe one of the organizers is a Beatles fan

7. Stay safe

Every year people lose their mobile phones at Cape Town Carnival. The massive crowds also bring out the pick pocketers. Be careful with your belongings. Take note of your bag keep it close to your body. And don’t put your phone or wallet in a section of your bag that’s easy to access. There is tons of security and relatively safe. Still you need to use common sense and keep your things safe as it’s easy to lose your things at this bustling event.

The Chinese community contributed to Cape Town Carnival
The Chinese community contributed to Cape Town Carnival

8. Check the weather

The weather in Cape Town can be rather unpredictable. In March the weather temperature ranges 15°C – 27°C (59°F – 80°F). March is officially the start of Autumn in South Africa. You will need a light jacket or shawl ladies in the evening. This way you won’t be getting cold whilst celebrating Cape Town carnival.

Cape Town Carnival 2017
Cape Town Carnival 2017 behind me is a huge screen so that crowds can see the performers

9. Charge your devices

Keep your devices charged as you will want to take lots of photos. I suggest carrying a power bank as well. Do not forget to charge your power bank.

Dancers at Cape Town Carnival 2017
Dancers at Cape Town Carnival 2017

10. Meet up place

Set up a meet up place in case you or your friends get lost you will know where to meet up. cape Town Carnival is loud and you will struggle to hear phone calls. A meet up place in case you get lost is your best bet.

Read more at:

Important information:

Date: 16 Mar 2019
Time: 15:00 until late
Venue: Green Point Fan Walk
Location: Green Point, Cape Town
Price: FREE
Phone: +27 (0) 21 406 2947

Thank you for reading and feel free to comment. I’m feeling a bit ill at the moment so I might be slow in responding but, I will respond.

Happy travels!

xxx Nikki xxx


  1. tsepotheview says:

    The costumes of participants are nice and comfortable more especially girls. People are going to have high anticipation about the event even though personally never attended one but could tell that whom ever is will be attending is going to have lot of fun and learn a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you get the chance to attend the Carnival one day. It is lots of fun. And every year Dstv airs highlights there’s a few videos on YouTube as well. Thanks for your comment 😃


      1. tsepotheview says:

        So glad one way or another will get to experience the carnival even if is only the highlights… Hope you had a great day!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you 😊


  2. becominglu says:

    Loved South Africa, I definitely will be returning to experience Carnival.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sadly it only lasts for one day. But, I’m glad you loved South Africa. And hope you enjoy Cape Town’s Carnival when you visit again.


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