Cape Minstrel Carnival

While new year always arrives with a big bang in the Mother City, it’s the Cape Minstrel Carnival, known as Tweede Nuwe Jaar (second new year), that gives the celebration its local colour. The Cape Minstrel Carnival is Cape Town’s longest-running street party, tracing back to old slave traditions during the days of the Cape Colony.

Historically celebrated on January 2, the one day Cape slaves were given off every year, the carnival is still marked today, typically on January 1, by merrymaking, music and a parade: Performers from local communities, dressed as minstrels and waving parasols, dance and sing their way from Zonnebloem, formerly District Six, through the city centre.

Legend has it that the carnival was influenced by a group of African-American musicians who docked in Cape Town in the late 1800s and entertained sailors with their spontaneous performances. Many tunes you will hear played during the parade are more than 200 years old, although you’re sure to hear pop songs and local interpretations of modern music too. The song-and-dance troupes involved take the event very seriously – some start practicing up to six months in advance – and there are prizes for the most flamboyant performance, the best-dressed troupe, the best singer and the best band.

The Cape Minstrel Carnival, much like Mardi Gras, is a celebration of freedom – and a uniquely local event not to be missed.

Did you know?

The Cape Minstrel Carnival is Cape Town’s longest-running street party, dating back almost 200 years.

read more on our blog

"Tweede Nuwe Jaar" - it's a Cape Town thing (blog)

Celebs join the Minstrels teams (blog)



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