Cape Minstrel Carnival

The Cape Minstrels in the streets of Cape Town. Photo © Cape Town Tourism

Celebrating “second New Year”

The Cape Minstrel Carnival is one of Cape Town’s oldest celebrations. The annual carnival, also called the “Kaapse Klopse”, has seen revellers taking to the streets of the Mother City since the mid-1800s.

The carnival originated almost 150 years ago, when Malay slaves spent their annual day off frolicking in the streets of Cape Town. Slaves gathered on the day to sing, dance and perform in celebration of their culture and were able to forget – if only for a few hours – the hardships they faced during the year.

Today, the event – held on January 2 – marks the start of the new year in a uniquely Capetonian way. The carnival’s nickname, “tweede Nuwe Jaar”, means “second New Year” in Afrikaans, the home language of many participants.

An unmistakeable sense of jubilation is present on the morning of the Cape Minstrel Carnival. More than 10 000 minstrels, kitted out in the brightest of outfits, assemble in District Six, where the street parade officially starts.

Twirling parasols, playing musical instruments and wearing white face-paint, the minstrels trot through the city to the delight of thousands of spectators.

Described as the South African version of Mardi Gras and the Rio Carnival, the Cape Minstrel Carnival – complete with festive song and dance – is a popular spot for nursing a New Year’s hangover.

It's also a great opportunity to take unique, bright and beautiful photographs.