Cape Town’s nearly 183-mile coastline gives the city’s inhabitants a direct line to the freshest seafood. It’s no surprise that this particular geography continues to have a profound influence on South African food. Every year in July, Cape Town’s Knysna Oyster Festival celebrates the city’s specialty: seafood. The 10 day long festival is spread over two weekends and attracts more than 70,000 visitors annually. It’s one of South Africa’s most popular festivals attracting a wide variety of travelers from around the world.
For 32 years, the festival has been a celebration of South African culture. Here are a few of the festival’s highlights.
Offering more than 20 venues dedicated to foodies, seafood lovers can slurp up unlimited amounts of oysters. More than 200,000 oysters are consumed each year at more than 30 local Tabasco Hotspots throughout the festival.
Knysna Forest half marathon
The Cape Town Oyster Festival offers two competitive sporting events. One of the most popular is the Cape Times Forest Half Marathon. This unique race offers running features that aren’t found anywhere else in the world, and a definitely bucket list item for adventure travelers. Runners race through the magnificent Knysna Forest with views of the Knysna Lagoon in the final stretch. As you travel through the forest it is not uncommon to see elephant droppings. Which means the runners keep a look out for the notorious Knysna elephants that inhabit the forest. Runners who arrive early are treated to warm fires, hot drinks, and snacks.
Weekend rotary cycle tour
The second sporting event is a two-day celebration of cycling that takes place on the Garden Route, offering cyclists dramatic coastal views and snow-white beaches. Mountain bike events include races for licensed riders, amatuer riders of varying age groups, and a ‘fun ride’ for cyclists 9 years and older. In the road bike events, there are also licensed rider races and amatuer races, as well as tandam riding events.
Knysna Elephant Park
If you didn’t see any elephants during the half marathon, you have to check out the famous Knysna Elephant Park, just a short drive from the Cape Town Oyster Festival. The Knysna Elephant Park established in 1994, was the first facility in South Africa to house and care for orphaned African Elephants. For animal lovers and adventure travelers alike, this would be a perfect day time activity. This park is very ‘hands-on’, as it allows you to have personal encounters with the elephants. It’s a once in a lifetime chance to experience South Africa’s history and beautiful inhabitants up-close.
Pick n Pay Young Oyster Festival
The Pick n Pay Young Oyster Festival features fun sporting activities, cultural and culinary workshops and live entertainment aimed at the youngest festival goers. Parents can enjoy the festival’s 100 events knowing that their children are having just as much fun getting their faces painted and playing games together.
The Hansa Waterfront Rush
Get a little competitive and channel your inner warrior as you compete against fellow travelers in a time-based obstacle course set on (and in) the water. Held at the Knysna waterfront, the Hansa Waterfront Rush is quite a spectacle for viewers and participants. Those brave enough to tackle the course start the race on a platform 24 feet above water, plunging into an over 260 foot slalom kayak course. From there, participates exit their kayaks and must use a hamster-like device called a Hydro Bronc to effectively walk on water. Then it’s on to a suspended rope course above the water, cumulating in a massive climbing wall.
Book your tickets and book your Cape Town IHG hotel well in advance, as the Oyster Festival is wildly popular and usually booked out months in advance due to popularity. Deciding to visit South Africa? Think about visiting during the festival to experience all that this paradise has to offer. You will not want to miss Cape Town at its finest and most exciting time of year.