The cat is out of the bag, South Africa is now a powerhouse foodie destination of the world. Every year there are countless food and wine festivals in and around iconic locations like Capetown, Stellenbosch, and Franschoek. Each would give any European food festival a run for its money.
The reason be? South Africa has an incredibly varied climate that grows fresh produce, happy farm animals, and insanely delicious wine. That’s right, South Africa takes its wine production very seriously, with the rolling hillside vineyards and internationally acclaimed drops to prove it.
When you learn of the ethnic diversity that runs deep through its culture and cuisine, you start to realize just how special the place really is. If you still have any doubts about South Africa’s credentials as a food, wine, and good time mecca, we will now let these festivals do the talking.
1. Cape Town Street Food Festival
Cape Town Street Food Festival is a big ol’ party and everyone is invited. Attending the festival is the perfect chance to discover Cape Town’s multiculturalism from the point of view of food. Vendors, trucks, stalls, tents, and the rest line the city streets, selling a wide-sweeping variety of local and international fare, with an emphasis on bites that can be served on a stick or in a bun.
One such food that is an all-time favorite of South Africa is bunny chow. Bunny chow is an Indian-influence South African dish that sees hollowed-out bread loaves loaded with a spicy curry and it is a national culinary treasure.
Do you know what goes well with street food fare? Beer! And the city’s craft beer scene is on full flex at this energetic festival that brings the city to the streets to feast and drink every September for 10 days straight.
2. Constantia Fresh Wine and Food Festival
If you are looking to taste the lavish side of South African life, it is served at the Constantia Fresh Wine and Food Festival. Going from strength to strength, in the last ten years, this festival, with an emphasis on fine wine, has established itself as a premier wine festival in the country.
Held at the idyllic Buitenverwachting Wine Estate in the heart of South Africa’s oldest wine region - Constantia, the festival show cases South African wine to the world. On top of having 200 wines at their fingertips and lips, ticket holders get treated to a gourmet spread put on by some of South Africa's best chefs. Seriously, if you revel in world-class wine and don’t mind spending a pretty penny to sample it, scribble the Constantia Fresh Wine and Food Festival in your diary.
3. South African Cheese Festival
The Western Cape is a mountainous region of southern South Africa. It is also chief wine country. Tucked away down in the Western Cape is a Dutch colonial town that goes by the name of Stellenbosch. Encircled by impressive mountainsides with a bounty of vineyards at their foothills, Stellenbosch feels somewhat distant from the rest of the world and boasts a unique and prosperous energy because of this.
An event that Stellenbosch is most proud of is its South African Cheese Festival. Held every April, it is regarded as South Africa’s biggest outdoor food festival and is a real treat for cheese, food, and wine lovers. Artisanal cheeses are shipped in from around the world to be paired with the region's famed fermented fruits and the 30,000 yearly attendees are very happy about this.
4. Franschoek Uncorked
Considered the “food and wine capital” of South Africa, it makes perfect sense why Franschhoek plays host to one of the country’s best food and wine festivals. Only a short 40-minute drive from Stellenbosch, Franschoek boasts a similar climate and geography that makes it a perfect place for wine making. Franschoek Uncorked is a celebration of the region’s endless vineyards and many wineries, with each of them putting on its own wine-fueled party.
Held at the beginning of spring, it is an opportunity for winemakers to promote new releases and showcase exclusive vintages. An Uncorked Weekend Pass will gain you entry into all participating wineries. Wine tastings, food pairings, live music, and entertainment - quaint little Franschoek comes alive for three electrifying days of excess, and we should all do our best to be there.
5. Knysna Oyster Festival
If you are in South Africa for the month of July, immersing yourself in the salty smells of the Knysna Oyster Festival is a must. Taking place over 10 days, the festival is a celebration of the sea with an emphasis on fresh and local oysters. Every year, over 200,000 oysters are slurped down by some 70,000 attendees and nobody leaves hungry.
Located along the iconic Garden Route of South Africa, Knysna is nestled into a very pretty part of the country. So, when you aren’t scoffing your face with local oysters, wine, seafood, and everything else that is good, we recommend checking the place out. It has some of the most picturesque bays and pristine beaches we’ve ever seen.
6. Elgin Cool Wine & Country Festival
In a similar vein to Franschoek Uncorked, Elgin Cool Wine & Country Festival is held across multiple wineries in the lush and wondrous Elgin region of South Africa. Kids entertainment, local bands, farm-to-table gastronomy-led menus, ceaseless wine tasting - people from all walks of life with a penchant for wine can have a very good time at this chic festival. Thankfully, and just like Franschoek Uncorked, there are festival shuttle buses to get tipsy patrons from winery to winery and back home again.
As a result of its passionate people and perfect growing climate, the Western Cape of South Africa produces some of the most exciting wines in the world. When you consider its melting pot of influence, for food and wine lovers, there really is nowhere on earth quite like South Africa. We hope the food and wine festivals in this article have given you the inspiration to fly due south and start sampling the fruits of this fine southern country. Contact me if you would love to learn more about my visit to the region in November 2021 – amazing, delicious and without a doubt one of my best travels!
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Author: Debra Harris
As founder of Life’s Journey Travel, I’m deeply passionate about creating custom travel experiences that allow my clients to truly savor the journey.