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December 23, 2008

Christmas and New Year – the top 10 things to do in Cape Town

It’s the season to be jolly, but it’s also the season to eat your fill, take a break, smell the flowers and party like crazy. And Cape Town is the place to be.

Here, in no particular order, are 10 great things to do over Christmas and New Year in one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

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Camps Bay in Cape Town.

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Blaauwberg beach provides you with the perfect opportunity to see Table Mountain.

  • If you’ve been losing too much weight this year, go and put on a few delicious kilograms. There are a host of places where you can feast in Cape Town this festive season – from the trendy city centre to Cape Town’s only floating restaurant, the Sea Horse, through to family lunches amid the splendour of the Cape winelands. Check out the Wine & Dine section on our website for more.
  • A quiet day picnicking may be more to your taste and Cape Town offers a number of options. While almost any patch of grass or sand in Cape Town is likely to provide you with a fairly impressive view, there are a few that stand out. Pack up your basket, chairs and friends or family, and visit the Kirstenbosch National Botanic Gardens (+27 21 761 2866), which are fabulous at this time of year. Spend an afternoon literally smelling the flowers, kicking a ball around, or reading a book or newspaper in one of the most beautiful settings in the country. Or head out a little further afield to the Durbanville Nature Reserve or Helderberg Wine Route. Near Stellenbosch, Moyo’s restaurant (+27 21 809 1133) has a deli where visitors can buy delicious food and sit in the grounds to eat their fill.
  • A white Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere is best achieved by heading to one of Cape Town’s dazzling white, sandy beaches and soaking up the rays from the warm sun. A gin and tonic, ice-cold beer, cocktail, fruit juice or soda to ease the heat of the day is readily available at the numerous bars, clubs, pubs and restaurants that line most of Cape Town’s coastline. And if you want to get chilled fast, have a dip in the sea.
  • Adderley Street, in the city centre, has the best Christmas lights in Cape Town and provides visitors and locals alike with a real feeling for Christmas, South African style.
  • There’s something magical about Christmas Mass, pretty much no matter what your religion, and in Cape Town the place to see in Christmas and take a moment to appreciate the history and meaning behind the day, is St George’s Cathedral in the city centre. This stunning cathedral is a marvellous piece of architecture and has a long and rich history.
  • Long Street is a fantastic place to visit on New Year’s Eve. With a choice of clubs and pubs in walking distance of one another, no matter what your flavour, you’ll find something for you.
  • Observatory is another area where there are a number of eateries, pubs, clubs and generally places to hang out and enjoy a beverage of your choice. With more of a Bohemian feeling, “Obs”, as it is affectionately known, is a good place for a slightly more laid-back approach to New Year’s.
  • If you’re standing on Blaauwberg Beach, in just the right spot, you get the view of Table Mountain that is used when postcard companies are trying to show it off. Listening to the waves crashing, the smell of the sea, a touch of stargazing and stunning scenery ... there are worse ways to see in the new year.
  • Live music on New Year’s Eve at the stunning Kirstenbosch Gardens is always going to be a pretty cool party. With two of South Africa’s best bands, Goldfish and Dr Victor and the Rasta Rebels, onstage, there are few vibier places to go than Kirstenbosch this New Year’s Eve. Only 5 000 tickets up for grabs, so book yours now. Tickets cost R200 and are available from the Kirstenbosch Ticket Office (+27 21 761 2866).
  • A must see on New Year’s Eve is the Kaapse Klopse in the city centre, or Cape Town Minstrels, at the V&A Waterfront amphitheatre. Up to 13 000 minstrels, with their faces painted white, take to the streets on January 2 each year. Clad in often-garishly bright colours the minstrels have been parading the streets of Cape Town since the mid-19th century. Originally sung as a slaves’ demonstration against the masters of that time, the songs now poke fun at local figures.
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