The Cape Town Festival of Lights: all you need to know

Every December, the city centre comes to life with hundreds of festive lights. You can go and check out the lights any night during the festive season, but it’s worth making the effort to get to the official Festival of Lights, when the mayor turns the lights on and there is a huge free street party. 2019 is a special year: it is the 50th anniversary of this tradition, and the City of Cape Town is pulling out all the stops.

Updated November 2019

Adderley Street Festival of Lights


What to expect

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 is lit up by colourful lights. The displays depict some of the city’s history as well as Christmas themes. Here’s this year’s star-studded local lineup:

  • Sho Madjozi
  • Ndlovu Youth Choir
  • YoungstaCPT
  • Early B
  • Andries Vermeulen
  • Theo Watt
  • The Unknown Dance Crew
  • Chad Chitter aka DJ Skouers

The venue

The event takes place at the Grand Parade. This historic site has seen many uses in its time. It is adjacent to the oldest colonial fort in Cape Town, and served as a slave market. It is also where Nelson Mandela made his first appearance as a free man after 27 years in prison.


When the Festival of Lights takes place

The event usually happens on the first Sunday in December. The event begins around 4 pm and the lights go on around 8:30 pm. It sets the mood for the festive season in the city.

How to attend the Adderley Street Festival of Lights

Entry to the annual festival is free to the public, so all you need to do is show up and enjoy a day of fun for all ages.

Planning a trip to Cape Town? Book flights, browse accommodation, and rent a car now to get the best rates. The Cape Town City Pass gives you access to over 70 of the top Cape Town attractions, tours, and things to see and do, including the popular hop on hop off City Sightseeing bus.

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About Us

Cape Town Tourism is the city of Cape Town's official Regional Tourism Organisation, responsible for tourism marketing, visitor and industry services.

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