While you may not travel all the way to South Africa just to attend one of these festivals, any of them would be a great add-on to a trip. After all, who would turn down a chance to imbibe in a little tipple while soaking up some authentic South African culture?
This selection of booze-based festivals are mostly located in the Western Cape and its Winelands. However, don’t discount the Johannesburg-based festivals or even the one in rural Clarens — it’s totally worth the drive!
Stellenbosch at Summer Place
If you find yourself at a loose end in Johannesburg in November, with an itch to taste some of the finest wines from Stellenbosch, this festival is the ideal fix. Five of South Africa’s top chefs come together to create dishes that show off the culinary prowess of the City of Oaks (as Stellenbosch is known), while winemakers from across the region bring their finest wines. The venue, Summer Place, is a lovely, elegant estate with park-like grounds, meticulously manicured lawns, and a breathtaking water feature.
WineX Wine Festival
With over 150 wineries present offering almost 800 wines, WineX is surely king when it comes to sampling South Africa’s best vino in one location. Held each October at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, WineX delights its visitors annually with its varied selection of vino and its lively social ambiance.
Whisky Live takes place throughout the year in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. This celebration of whisky is meant to be fun and educational for the amateur whisky drinker, and an intense journey of discovery for the enthusiast. It includes a range of whiskies from around the world, with each event showcasing exciting distillations from the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia and even South Africa!
Franschhoek Bastille Festival
South Africa’s moderate winter lends itself well to the winter celebration of the French Bastille Day. The festival coincides with the French holiday each year in July, and brings Franschhoek’s French heritage to the fore. With marquees dotted across this winelands town, all themed to mark the holiday, guests can treat themselves to local wines, cheeses, chocolates, and artisanal food. The festival is also extremely family-friendly to boot!
The Plett Wine & Bubbly Festival
A South African wine festival with a difference, The Plett Wine & Bubbly Festival takes place on the picturesque shore of Plettenberg Bay’s central beach, under dreamy Bedouin tents. While the winelands in the surrounding region are relatively young in age, there is a burgeoning industry here that is worth visiting for. With mostly white varietals on offer, it does make for a splendid summer’s day out near the shoreline.
Pinotage on Tap
If you enjoy quaffing the chocolatey goodness of the Pinotage varietal, then it’s essential you visit one of the Pinotage on Tap festivals across South Africa. Hosted each year in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, this festival is a mix of live music, good food and bottomless Diemersfontein Pinotage. All food and drink is included in the price of admission, and tickets sell out fast, so make sure to get yours early!
Riebeek Cellars Annual Grape Stomp
At the end of picking season in February and March, viticulture fans can head to Riebeek Cellars to get involved in the process of making wine the old-fashioned way: stomping the grapes by foot! Teams enter to see how many kilograms they can smash in a given period of time, all the while enjoying the cellar’s wine. This is perfect for those with a competitive streak; the competition hots up throughout the day and there are prizes for the winners.
Fine Brandy Fusion
With its origins in France as a medicinal spirit to the revered drink it is today, brandy has come a long way. The brandy industry is burgeoning in South Africa, and this festival is dedicated to both local and international versions of the spirit. Fine Brandy Fusion is not just for those in the know when it comes to brandy, but also for those who are curious about the culture, flavours and distillation processes around it. It takes place in Cape Town on an annual basis.
Cape Town Festival of Beer
The festival that touts itself as the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere, this is an event not to miss if you’re at all a fan of brews. Featuring over 200 beers, the Festival of Beer seeks to celebrate the growth of the South African craft beer industry, and the incredible beers that have been birthed in its course.
Clarens Craft Beer Festival
One of South Africa’s most-established craft beer events, The Clarens Craft Beer Festival always draws a crowd to this small town in the eastern Free State. Between the festival, the views of the golden sandstone mountains and the charms of the town, it’s a weekend well-spent. The festival doesn’t aim to be massive, but it does offer some of the best craft brews in the country, with just over two dozen brewers in attendance. The festival is set up on the town square, under large leafy trees and is always very festive.