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This festive season all lights lead to the V&A Waterfront
Christmas installations, children's play, free concerts & more
Last updated: 14 December 2023
Every festive season, the iconic V&A Waterfront welcomes millions of people (from local families to cosmopolitan art lovers) into its neighbourhood in the oldest working harbour in the Southern Hemisphere, set against the backdrop of Table Mountain.
This year’s joy at the V&A includes an eight-day run of the children’s play Naledi’s Festive Dream; large-scale visual installations made by local artists and businesses; meet and greets with Santa; free concerts in the artsy Silo District, and so much more.
This year, the V&A has taken its Joy From Africa festive campaign to another level. Image: V&A Waterfront
WATCH A FESTIVE CHILDREN’S PLAY
Naledi’s Festive Dream will see the amphitheatre transformed into an immersive indoor theatrical experience for eight days.
The play follows nine-year-old Naledi, who pens a letter to Santa and his helpers inviting them to experience the joy, beauty and diversity of Cape Town. Naledi’s letter is warmly received, and Santa shows up on her doorstep to experience Joy From Africa for himself.
The energetic production is filled with music, dancing, rhythms and rhymes and highlights the good that Cape Town (and Africa) brings to the world.
See where to book tickets via the Joy From Africa website.
Date: 16 - 23 December 2023 (three shows daily)
Venue: Amphitheatre (outside the food court and kids play area)
Times: 12pm; 1.30pm; 3pm
It's perfect entertainment for the kids these holidays. Image: Lara van Zyl
ADMIRE DECOR & ART FROM LOCAL MAKERS
Now in its fifth year, Joy From Africa has supported over 70 small businesses and crafters. 2023’s installations will pay homage to Cape Town’s beautiful landscapes, landmarks and culture.
You’ll find decor like hand-painted papier-mâché birds (made from recycled paper, wood and Kalahari sand by Themba and Nombulelo Masala) or beaded creatures (created by Monkeybiz, an economic upliftment project that empowers women to become financially independent).
Read more about the Joy from Africa installations at the V&A Waterfront.
Date: Until mid January 2024
Venue: All over the mall
Time: Mall is open 9am to 9pm
Joy from Africa to the World is about supporting local artists and businesses, sustainability and showcasing African talent to the world. Image: V&A Waterfront
VISIT THE GIANT CHRISTMAS TREE
This year everybody’s favourite installation, the V&A’s iconic Christmas tree, is bedecked with locally-created decorations that fit this year’s Joy From Africa theme “Between the Mountain and the Sea”.
The giant tree is dotted with colourful proteas and pincushions, star fish, musical notes made from sea shells, twinkling fairy lights and more. It’s one of the favourite backdrops for Christmas pictures for visitors and locals.
Date: Until mid January 2024
Venue: Outside Entrance 4, by Paul’s Bakery and Tang
Time: Mall is open 9am to 9pm
The tree is decorated with locally-inspired decorations. Image: V&A Waterfront
SAY HI TO SANTA
There’s not much that brings as much joy to the little ones as Santa, and every year families flock to the V&A for the arrival of Father Christmas and his elves.
Santa will be at the V&A between 11am and 5pm daily to say hi to his fans. Make sure you have lots of space on your phone to capture the moment (and listen out for your little one’s Christmas wish).
Date: 16 – 24 December 2023
Venue: Centre Court, V&A Mall (in front of H&M)
Time: 11am - 5pm
You’ll find Santa in the Centre Court, by the H&M. Image: V&A Waterfront
TAKE THE KIDS TO COOKING WORKSHOPS
If you’d like the kids to get crafty, then Maker’s Landing is hosting Mini Makers, a series of food workshops.
Little ones (ages 5 to 11) will learn how to make various festive treats, like reindeer marshmallows, candy cane milkshakes, gingerbread houses and Christmas breakfast. Book for the little ones via Quicket.
There’s also sessions for teens (ages 12 to 17) with recipes like cinnamon bun wreaths, burgers and milkshakes, lasagne, focaccia, no-churn ice cream and brownies. Book for the teens via Quicket.
Date: 16 December 2023 – 14 January 2024
Venue: Makers Landing Demo Kitchen
Time: Times vary
Cost: From R350
Mini Makers workshops include arrival snacks, kitchen safety lessons and a recipe to take home. V&A Waterfront
DO NYE WITH THE MAYOR & LOCAL MUSICIANS
With music, festivities and a buzz of celebration and joy, the V&A is the place to be on New Year’s Eve. It’s also one of the only places allowed to set off fireworks.
This year, at Africa’s largest New Year's Eve party, celebrations are grander than ever. There’ll be an impressive lineup of local celebrity guests, from Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis giving a welcome address to charismatic radio personality Ryan O'Connor emceeing the festivities.
Artists and performers include Mandisi Dyantyis (an icon of South African jazz), folk pop sensation and Cape Town favourite Matthew Mole, and Sun-El Musician, who’ll be hosting the midnight countdown with Afro-house and electronic beats.
Date: 31 December 2023
Venue: V&A Waterfront
Time: From 3pm to midnight (larger artists take the stage from 6pm onwards)
Cost: Free (Make your restaurant and accommodation bookings early)
The V&A has some of the most esteemed restaurants in the city – great for a bite to eat before the celebrations. Image: V&A Waterfront
GO TO FREE CONCERTS IN THE SILO DISTRICT
If you’re into arts and culture, the Silo District is the art and design lovers destination (whether you’re viewing a new exhibition at Africa’s largest art museum Zeitz MOCAA, browsing the latest African design at Southern Guild or enjoying bubbly with panoramic views at The Silo Rooftop).
Silo District’s free concert series, which takes place every first Friday of the month, returns from 5 January. Matthew Mole is on the lineup for the festive season, with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra in February and a Mini Jazz festival in March.
Date: 5 January; 3 February; 1 March 2024
Venue: In front of the restaurants by the Zeitz MOCAA
Time: 7pm - 8pm
The Silo District is home to Africa’s largest art museum and plenty of upmarket restaurants. Image: V&A Waterfront
WIN V&A SHOPPING VOUCHERS
To celebrate Joy from Africa, from 25 December until 29 December we’ll highlight some special corners and things to do in the iconic V&A neighbourhood. And you could win one of five R1 000 V&A Waterfront gift cards. Enter via our Instagram.
- Competition runs from 25 to 29 December
- Gift cards non-refundable and non-transferable
- Giveaway ends 29 December at 12pm
- Winners announced 2 January 2024
Celebrate Joy from Africa to the World and stand a chance to win. Image: V&A Waterfront/CapeTownMagazine.com
EXPLORE THE V&A THIS FESTIVE SEASON
Waterfront festive season is on: December 2023 to mid January 2024
Waterfront shopping mall is open: Monday to Sunday, 9am to 9pm
Find it: V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
Read more: via the Joy From Africa website
Contact them on: 021 408 7600, email@example.com, @vandawaterfront
By Julia Rowley
FIND MORE FAMILY FESTIVE FUN
Here’s more free and cheap family activities in Cape Town.
You could also explore the foodie hub Makers Landing.
See how else to be festive with these Christmas events in Cape Town.
There’s lots of affordable outdoor things to do at Battery Park.