Month by Month
Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, January
Infecting the City, March
Design Indaba, February
Open Book Festival, September
Adderley St Christmas Lights, December
Expect packed hotels and restaurants, crowds at the beaches and traffic on main coastal roads. Some restaurants, cafes and shops close for the first week or so of the month.
Cape Town Minstrel Carnival
Tweede Nuwe Jaar (2 January) sees satin- and sequin-clad minstrel troupes march through the city for the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival. There are smaller marches on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. Into early February there are competitions between troupes at Athlone Stadium.
South Africa’s richest horse race – with a R2.5 million jackpot – is an occasion for big bets and even bigger hats. Usually held on the last Saturday in January at Kenilworth Racecourse.
Check for classical concerts at the Cape Town International Summer Music Festival. The city goes into lockdown for the opening of Parliament in the first week of February – avoid anything but essential travel on that day.
This creative convention brings together the varied worlds of fashion, architecture, visual arts, crafts and media. It's held from late February to early March, usually at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
Cape Town Pride
Held from the last week of Feburary to early March with events focused in De Waterkant.
The cultural calendar cranks up with a series of arts and music festivals. Cyclists take over the streets (and many of the city’s hotels) for the Cape Town Cycle Tour, so forget driving around town on the day of the event.
Cape Town Carnival
Held in the middle of the month on the Walk of Remembrance in Green Point, this city-sponsored parade and street party celebrates the many facets of South African identity.
Infecting the City
Cape Town’s squares, fountains, museums and theatres are the venues for this innovative performing arts festival, held every two years, featuring artists from across the continent.
Cape Town Cycle Tour
Held on a Saturday in the middle of March, the world’s largest timed cycling event attracts more than 30,000 contestants. The route circles Table Mountain, heads down the Atlantic Coast and along Chapman’s Peak Dr.
Cape Town International Jazz Festival
Cape Town’s biggest jazz event, attracting big names from both South Africa and overseas, is usually held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre at the end of March. It includes a free concert in Greenmarket Sq.
Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon
Held in mid-March, this 56km marathon kicks off in Newlands and follows a similar route to the Cape Town Cycle Tour around Table Mountain, with around 9000 competitors.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
Fashionistas line the catwalks to spot the hottest work from local designers and pick up the latest trends.
The weather starts to chill from now through early October, so bring warmer clothes and be prepared for rainy, blustery days.
Only thick-skinned and strong swimmers should apply for the solo and team relay events of this swim from Murray's Bay, on Robben Island, to Bloubergstrand. It's held around Freedom Day (27 April). (www.freedomswimseries.co.za)
Head to Kirstenbosch, Constantia and the Winelands to enjoy the blaze of autumnal colours laid on by Mother Nature.
Franschhoek Literary Festival
As if you needed more reason to visit this delightful Winelands town, this literary festival attracts the cream of locally based and expatriate South African writers. (www.flf.co.za)
Good Food & Wine Show
Cape Town goes gourmet with this three-day event held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
Winter in Cape Town can be very blustery and wet, but it's also one of the best times to spot whales off the peninsula's coast.
Cape Town Nu World Festival
Held over Mandela Day weekend (around 18 July), this celebration of global beats and rhythms takes over City Hall and parts of the Grand Parade.
The first official month of spring and it's still prime whale-watching season around the Peninsula and down to Hermanus. The city also hosts a couple of top arts events.
Cape Town Fringe
A jamboree of the performing arts, organised in conjuction with the respected Grahamstown Festival, peppers the Mother City with interesting happenings for 11 days in late September and early October.
Open Book Festival
Cape Town's main literature festival offers a packed schedule of talks, readings and discussions with local and international writers. It's organised by the the Fugard Theatre with events held there, the District Six Homecoming Centre and the Book Lounge.
Well into spring now; enjoy warmer weather and freshly blooming flowers in Kirstenbosch and other parks and country areas.
OUTsurance Kfm 94.5 Gun Run
This popular half-marathon (21km) is the only time that the Noon Gun on Signal Hill gets fired on a Sunday – competitors try to finish the race before the gun goes off. There are also 10km and 5km races.
Mama City Improv Festival
Five laughter-packed days of shows at venues in Observatory for this stand-up comedy and improvisation festival with workshops and performances by local and international talents.
Cape Town International Kite Festival
Held at the end of October, or early November, in support of the Cape Mental Health Society, is this colourful gathering of kite enthusiasts at Zandvlei, near Muizenberg.
Season of Sauvignon
Durbanville celebrates its signature grape, sauvignon blanc, at this festival in late October, with most of the area's dozen wineries hosting events from vertical tastings to live music.
Cape Town can be lovely in the spring, although the wind may drive you a little crazy. Various regular outdoor events start their summer seasons in this month.
Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts
These Sunday afternoon concerts run through until April; expect everything from arias performed by local divas to a funky jazz combo. There’s always a special concert for New Year’s Eve.
Miss Gay Western Cape
Glam frocks are dusted off and created for this long-running transgender beauty pageant, usually held in early November.
Wavescape Surf & Ocean Festival
Events for this surfing-themed fest – which include art shows, movie screenings and masterclasses – are held at various places around the Cape including Muizenburg and the Waterfront.
The lively street festival is usually held on the last Saturday in the November at various locations around central Observatory including the Trill Rd, Station Rd and Lower Main Rd.
Galileo Outdoor Cinema
This outdoor cinema operation (http://thegalileo.co.za) starts screenings in Kirstenbosch, the Waterfront and the Winelands.
This is the top holiday season, so book well ahead for tickets for popular attractions and to get reservations at top restaurants. New Year’s Eve is busy, with fireworks at the Waterfront – one of many special events across the city.
Cape Town Festival of Beer
With the stadium as a backdrop, the continent's largest beer festival sees more than 200 beers available for tasting over three days in early December.
Adderley St Christmas Lights
On the first Sunday in December, huge crowds turn out for a concert in front of Cape Town Railway Station, followed by a parade along illuminated Adderley St. A night market is also held in the Company Gardens starting mid-December.
Standing for Mother City Queer Project, this theme fancy dress dance party is held a different major Cape Town venue each December. Although it's a LGBT event, everyone regardless of sexual orientation, joins in the fun.