Travellers always ask me, “when’s the best time to visit Cape Town in Summer?” That’s an easy one for me, but then I have to take a step back and give the diplomatic answer: “depends on what you’re looking for”
There’s many a reason I don’t like “peak season”, but obviously many more people would disagree with me or the numbers wouldn’t peak along with the mercury in December, January and February. Luckily it’s also peak season for music events and other outdoor activities (like cinemas and al fresco pop ups), so that can tip the scales in favour of getting some summer lovin in the mother city over this period.
But let’s explore a bit more…
If you want to see and be seen… December, January and February
This is when all the local tourists (they go home early Jan), international models and movie crews pull in and block off our streets, take up our parking and generally turn every watering hole into a scene from the Great Migration (usually found among animals north of our borders). Music festivals are pumping, outdoor markets are buzzing and the beaches and nature are always pimping. It’s blue-sky beauty at its best. Generally everyone glows with health (and often extreme wealth) and you start to wonder if you might be the ugliest person in the city.
Negatives to consider: accommodation and flights are at a premium and the South Easter (wind) is often pumping (ie:lamp post grabbing strength) and all the hot tourist sites are crowded. (Song theme: You have to fight for your right to paaaarty!)
If you want a bit of culture along with that beauty… March and April are the King and Queen!
Disclaimer: March is my favourite month and here’s why…
For starters, the weather is better – less heat + less wind = temperate dream. The masses have gone, leaving the discerning visitor behind to enjoy the many sights and sounds of the Mother City. And in March there are plenty of new ones to enjoy. In fact, March has the best mix of cultural and sporting events in my opinion…
Design Indaba – don’t get fixed on the word “design”, this is a not for designers only. It’s a creative forum that brings the best thinkers and ideas from across the globe together. Think chefs and Google designers. Expect architects and writers, musicians and fashion designers. It’s a creative milieu and it definitely spills out into the city if you can’t afford to attend the actual 5-day conference (at R1800, the simulcast option is very affordable.) Inspirational and aspirational for anyone with a creative bent.
When: Usually starts at the end of Feb and ends early March.
Infecting the city – Enjoy public and performance art? Like to interact with the spaces and places in a city? Infecting the City does as it promises – it infiltrates the pockets of the city and your mind to infest it with new ideas and debunk old paradigms. It’s all about engaging art, plus you get to enjoy the Company Gardens, the Fort and many other city icons at night, along with Food Trucks and a wine stand to keep you in a more creatively receptive mood. You will want to be infected with creativity.
When: Early March, often after Design Indaba.
Cape Argus Cycle Tour: For one day a year, Cape Town allows thousands of cyclists to commandeer one of the most beautiful drives in Cape Town and even South Africa. The race is competitive but then there are many casual cyclists who take their time en route, even stopping off for lunch at one of the harbour towns before ending in the city centre. Breathtaking in more ways than one.
When: Usually mid March
Cape Town Carnival
It’s no Rio Carnival but this street affair has definitely got plenty of flair and floats. It’s not something to fly across the world to experience, but if you are in the city it is definitely worth a trip down to join the crowds who cheer on the floats and enjoy the spectacle, which culminates in a big street party. Colourful festive fun.
When: mid-late March
Cape Town Jazz Festival: I don’t know much about jazz but I do know that this festival attracts some of the world’s biggest acts and fans to the city every year. These tickets sell out fast, so if you are planning to attend this event, be sure to book early. (Top tip: There is always a free concert in Greenmarket Square just days before the event starts.)
When: late March
Musing on the magic of March