Christmas in Cape Town

Cape Town may be some distance from Santa’s workshop in the North Pole, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the Christmas holidays here. Sure, you’ll have to trade in the snow for some soft white beach sand, but sunny Christmases can be magical too!

Christmas markets

Hitting the shopping malls in December is quite possibly the last thing any sane person wants to do… especially since you could be lying on Clifton beach or hiking up Table Mountain. But markets are a lot less noxious; some of Cape Town’s markets are downright delightful.

If you’re the organised type (who doesn’t leave shopping for the last minute), you might want to check out the Cape Gift Market, which is held at the Sea Point City Hall and has been running for over a decade, or the Stellenbosch Kersmark, which features crafts and baked goods from over 180 artists and craftsmen.

Mid-December offers up the Fab Ideas Christmas Market in Kommetjie, the Edgemead Christmas Market, which attracts traders from all over the Cape, and the Gabrielskloof ‘Favourite Things’ Market, where you can sip on a glass of wine while browsing through gifts and stocking your pantry with yummy festive foods.

If you’ve left gift-buying to the last minute, the Cape Town Gift & Food Fair, which runs from 20 – 23 December 2016 at the Castle of Good Hope, is your best bet. Entry is free, there’ll be live entertainment, and you can expect a variety of food trucks, baked goods and craft stalls.


Festival of Lights

Every December, Adderley Street in Cape Town is lit up by hundreds of festive lights. While you can go and check out the lights any night during the festive season, it’s worth making the effort to get to the official turning-on of the lights, which usually happens on the first Sunday of December, when Adderley Street plays host to a huge free street party.

There are stalls lining the street selling everything from food to Christmas gifts, and a live concert kicks off mid-afternoon. When the sun sets, the mayor officially turns on the lights, and Adderley Street – Cape Town’s historic main pathway – is lit up by colourful lights depicting some of the city’s history as well as Christmas themes.

The V&A Waterfront also has a festive season light display. From 9 to 17 December 2016, you can catch the Christmas Light Show at the Victoria Wharf for free from 8.30pm to 9.30 pm. The display is set to carols and Christmas-themed music.

adderley st lights

Carols by candlelight

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden is the most obvious choice if you are looking to unleash your inner chorister. Held over four nights in the middle of December, the carols at Kirstenbosch are a fundraising initiative of the Rotary Club of Kirstenbosch.  The tradition, which has been running for 26 years, sees families picnicking on the beautiful lawns whilst being entertained by various popular musicians. When the sun sets, glow sticks (not candles) are handed out, and the carols begin. Over the four days, this event attracts 20 000 visitors, so be sure to buy your tickets early!

If you are looking for a free carolling experience, the V&A Waterfront Amphitheatre will play host to the Apostle Choristers on 21 December 2016 from 7-8pm, and the Cape Town Gospel Choir on 23 December 2016 at the same time.

A number of wine farms also host carol events. In the past, Steenburg in Tokai, Laborie in Paarl, Vergelegen in Somerset West, and Durbanville Hills in Durbanville have all held Christmas-themed singalongs, while Oude Libertas in Stellenbosch also offers carols by candlelight.

Kirstenbosch Carols

  • For more information on what’s happening in Cape Town over the festive season: visit our EVENTS SECTION.