Grahamstown National Arts Festival


Held annually at the beginning of July, the Grahamstown National Arts Festival is your one-stop shop for all that is new and happening on the national arts scene. Grahamstown will transform into a dedicated arts venue where performers, visual artists, audiences, writers and craftspeople fuse in a celebration of the creative energy.

For 10 amazing days life is heightened by surprise, stimulation, soul food, challenge and fun. At the Grahamstown National Arts Festival you can take part in wonderful meetings with fascinating strangers and old friends meet on every corner during this non-stop arts party.

Festival Highlights

The Main and Fringe programmes are so rich and varied that you can put together a personalised Festival that meets your particular dreams, tastes and desires. Talks and walkabouts with experts and late night debates in eateries, pubs and coffee bars help develop the connoisseur lurking within you.

Grahamstown National Arts Festival highlights include street theatre, street life, sundowner concerts and dozens of exhibitions.

Organised by the Grahamstown Foundation, Africa's largest and most colourful cultural event offers a choice of the very best of local and imported talent. Every year for 10 days Grahamstown's population almost doubles, as over 50 000 people flock to the city for a feast of arts, crafts and magical entertainment.

Every hall or large room becomes a theatre, parks and sport fields become flea markets, normally quiet streets have to be managed by an army of temporary traffic wardens, and every available bed in the city is booked.

The Grahamstown Festival offers more than 500 shows from opera, cabaret, drama and jazz to stand-up comics and folk music. While many come to take in the arts, others simply want to be here for the spectacle or to market products ranging from tie-dyed T-shirts and woven rugs to handmade jewellery and customised telephones.

Festival History

The Grahamstown National Arts Festival, which is organised by the Grahamstown Foundation, started in 1974 with 60-odd items. These days there are about 600 events on the Main and Fringe programmes and close to 1800 performances on offer.

Initially, supporters came in their hundreds and now it is estimated that they total around 100 000.Grahamstown National Arts Festival now has two major sponsors, Standard Bank and the Eastern Cape Government, who have pledged their support for at least another two years


Grahamstown provides a level playing field where classics roustabout with the avant-garde, new talents square up to the established stars. During Festival, it's the only game in town. Sparks fly and audiences and performers share interchangeable roles.

Drawn by the generous bring-and-share ethos, foreign luminati offer their best, work with local artists and take home treasures from Africa's cultural trove. Pumping music, electrifying drama, hot street life, killer craft-shopping. .. the only thing in short supply is shut-eye.

Children's Arts Festival

This popular entertainment programme for children between the ages of four and 13 aims at educating the youth in arts. The exciting daily schedule is drawn up by arts education specialists and includes music, dance, drama and handcraft workshops, Festival productions, lunchtime concerts, exhibitions and visits to the craft markets.

There is also evening entertainment for those enrolled in the Boarding Programme. Participants are allocated to specific groups, depending on their age and ability, with a maximum of 20 pupils per group.

Each day includes different plays and workshops. This ensures a variety for those who attend on a regular basis. Adult supervision guaranteed and advance bookings are recommended to avoid disappointment.

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