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What's on in downtown Cape Town

What's on in downtown Cape Town

by Simangele Mzizi
28 July 2022

There is still a nip in the air, but things are hotting up in the Central City with the great line-up of events on offer. Here’s a selection of what’s on.


Open Book Workshops
Now on till 29 July 2022

In the lead-up to the Open Book Festival scheduled for September this year, organisers are hosting a series of workshops on a range of subjects including memoir writing, creative non-fiction and pop-culture poetry. These are facilitated by acclaimed authors such as Dawn Garisch, Hedley Twidle and Maneo Mohale. While the event’s now in Mowbray, outside the city centre, it remains a great initiative that’s supported by CBD indie bookshop The Book Lounge. Be sure to attend the workshops and the main event in September.
Where: Bertha House, 67 Main Road
When: Depends on booking
Cost: R150 – R300

9 August 2022

It’s back! The much-loved ABFAB DRAG (Absolutely Fabulously DRAG) show returns to the Artscape this August for one night only. It showcases the crème de la crème of drag on centre stage. Organisers say while Cape Town has a scintillating drag tradition dating back to the 1930s, nowadays, the pageants, parties and fabulous drag queen shows are often hosted by clubs that cater to a select few who know where to find them. Tickets are always sold out, get your bookings in early and get ready to be entertained.
Where: Artscape Theatre Centre, D.F. Malan St
When: 08h15
Cost: R150

Women’s Humanity Arts Festival
1 to 9 August 2022

This women’s month, Artscape is hosting its annual Women’s Humanity Arts Festival which gives voice to issues around the equality of women, children, and persons with disabilities. This year’s festival is returning for the first time since the pandemic hit and aims to provide a space for healing by exploring themes of breathing, grounding, care and belonging through a great line-up of stage productions, book launches and film screenings. Don’t miss it.
Where: Artscape Theatre Centre, D.F. Malan St
When: Depends on booking
Cost: R150 – R280

The Unlikely Secret Agent
4 to 9 August 2022

This riveting play is based on “The Unlikely Secret Agent”, an Alan Paton Award-winning book by struggle stalwart Ronnie Kasrils. It tells the true story of Eleanor who was arrested, detained and interrogated under the 90-Day Act as police searched for her partner, Ronnie, who they alleged was a terrorist. Catch it and be moved by this journey of courage against impossible odds.
Where: Artscape Theatre Centre, D.F. Malan St
When: Depends on booking
Cost: R190

The South African Jewish Museum

The South African Jewish Museum protects and celebrates Jewish culture and heritage in the country and is a wonderful institution to visit all year round. Inside the premises are interactive displays, audio-visual presentations, and fascinating artefacts to help visitors understand the rich history of the Jewish community. The venue also offers private tours for visitors. This August, it’s showing “The Eternal Scholar”, a must-see exhibition of Arnold Castle’s images which offer a unique historical perspective. Castle, a lifelong Mother City resident, photographed South African residents and landscapes for over 40 years.  
Where: South African Jewish Museum, 88 Hatfield St
When: 10h00 – 17h00 (Sunday – Thursday)
Cost: R50 (students over 12 years) – R200 (adults)

After Admin

Artist Admin, one of the CBD’s newest galleries in the East City where The Raptor Room used to be, doesn’t just offer administrative support for artists and creative entrepreneurs so they can focus on doing what they love. The team also doubles up as creatives on the side and has its first-ever group show called After Admin.
Where: After Admin, 79 Roeland St
When: 09h00 – 17h00 (Monday – Friday)
Cost: Free

FAME Week Africa
24 to 26 August 2022

It’s an exciting time in the Cape Town Central City with big events back and bigger than before. Fame Week Africa is another huge showcase that’s not to be missed. It’s dubbed the continent’s “bridge to business development for the creative and cultural sector”. The three-day event will focus on the major creative economies, namely film, television and animation, as well as music and entertainment technology. The aim is to ensure that “Africans become robust players in the market rather than mere consumers”.
Where: CTICC 2, 1 Lower Long St
When: 10h00 – 17h00
Cost: R1 500

All Sport Expo
9 to 11 September 2022

This four-day event covers sport and wellness under one roof, and organisers expect over 15 000 athletes and sports enthusiasts to attend. The expo will feature a range of exhibitors, workshops by health experts and coaches, sporting activities, competitions and a kids’ sports zone.
Where: CTICC 1, 1 Lower Long St
When: 10h00 – 18h00
Cost: R60 – R110

Spring Symphonies at the City Hall
1 to 29 September 2022

Bookings are open for the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra’s spring performances featuring South African premieres of two works by the Belgian composer August De Boeck, in a concert sponsored by the Belgian Embassy. There will also be a debut of a triple concerto written by award-winning Dutch violinist, Tim Kliphuis. Aside from new material, much-loved classics will also be presented. To whet your appetite before the big showcase, check out Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Orchestra’s first ever full symphony concert on 13 August at the Hugo Lambrechts Music Centre. It’s worth backing as it’s the CPO’s way of giving youngsters a shot at playing in a professional ensemble.
Where: Cape Town City Hall, Darling St
When: 20h00
Cost: R150

Veronica Paeper’s Romeo and Juliet
17 to 28 August 2022
Cape Town City Ballet

Ballet lovers take note! A stellar cast has been assembled to dance in the classic tale of star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet. Capetonians are in for a treat this August as Cape Town City Ballet has pulled out all the stops. Exceptional international guest artists include Vadim Muntagirov and Fumi Kaneko (both Principals of The Royal Ballet) who will dance on 5, 8, 10 and 13 August, accompanied by the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. Don’t miss it.
Where: Artscape Theatre Centre, D.F. Malan St
When: Depends on booking
Cost: R175 – R750

IKIGAI Purpose … Happiness … Peace
17 to 27 August 2022

Treat yourself to an interesting dance performance that explores the Japanese philosophy called IKIGAI. Cape Town City Ballet states that it subscribes to the concept, which relates to life purpose, life happiness and life peace. These three pillars will be depicted through dance by talented performers from Cape Town City Ballet.
Where: Artscape Theatre Centre, D.F. Malan St
When: 18h00
Cost: R175 – R750

Meet the Makers
Now on till August 2022

If you’ve ever dreamed of tasting some of South Africa’s best wines and their creators over a decadent meal, now’s your chance. Grub & Vine has an impressive list of winemakers coming up between April and August, including Remhoogte Wine Estate, Raats Family Wines, De Kleine Wijn Koöp, Cape Point Vineyards, Brookdale Estate, Paserence and Miles Mossop Wines. The evening includes five courses and five wines.
Where: Grub & Vine, 103 Bree St
When: 08h30 – 22h00
Cost: R750 per person

Brunch Club at The Blue Room
Every Saturday

Enjoy a sumptuous and leisurely brunch to the sounds of jazz at Grub & Vine’s Blue Room on Saturdays. This is a unique experience with a fresh take on brunch classics with an option to choose from delicious à la carte dishes or the whole menu. What’s more, you can enjoy bubbles from Graham Beck all day.
Where: The Blue Room, 103 Bree St
When: 11h00 – 15h00


Now on till 26 August 2022

Treat yourself to Stilte, a winter group show at the Voorkamer Gallery at Chandler House. Curator-owner Michael Chandler says this season is a time when the pace of life slows down, allowing us time to reflect and look forward, with optimism, to a wonderful summer ahead despite the challenges around us. He explains: “This exhibition encourages us all to spend some time this winter being still and quiet so that we can box these strange times away and move towards a brighter and happier season in our lives”.
Where: Chandler House, 53 Church St
When: 10h00 – 17h00 (Monday to Friday), 10h00 – 14h00 (Saturday)
Cost: Free

Current Affairs: Conversations about the body 2.0

This Nel gallery show is by M I L K, a collective of four artists (Gillian Rosselli, Martina Gruber, Tosca Marthinus and Neena Borrill) who express themselves by using their bodies, when words fail, to convey individual takes on a range of issues including gender identity and sexuality. The gallery’s website states that “the works M I L K creates and performs together with their bodies and the camera are personal reactions to situations they witness, in person or from a distance, in the past and the present.”
Where: Nel, 17 Long St
When: 10h00 – 17h00 (Tuesday to Friday), 10h00 – 14h00 (Saturday)
Cost: Free

Kara Uwone/Grow Up and See
Now on till 28 August 2022

Like many Zimbabweans, Lionel Mbayiwa was forced to leave his home country and seek refuge in South Africa. He has faced numerous challenges “in a foreign land”. His exhibition pays homage to the elders of the Nguni tribe who said “Kura uwone” or “Kula ubone”, which means “come and see”. Mbayiwa explains that the Shona proverb reminds one that even when we think we have seen it all, there are some more challenges in life to be met.
Where: Association For Visual Arts (AVA) Gallery, 35 Church St
When: 10h00 – 17h00 (Tuesday to Friday), 10h00 – 13h00 (Saturday)
Cost: Free

Modern Masters
Now on till 30 July

EBONY/CURATED founder and director Marc Stanes has curated a must-see exhibition featuring a range of artworks by key South African artists. They include the following:  Walter Battiss, Alexis Preller, Barbara Grace Burry, Peter Clarke, Ernst De Jongh, George Diederick During, Hannes Harrs, Jane Tully Heath, Dezso Koenig, Alfred Neville Lewis, Donald Madge, Leonard Matsoso, Nathaniel Mokgosi, Sam Nhlengethwa and Cecil Skotnes.
Where: EBONY/CURATED, 67 Loop St
When: 09h30 – 17h00 (Monday to Friday), 09h30 – 13h30 (Saturdays)
Cost: Free

Salon Afrique: A Homecoming Reimagined

Great to see the space which formerly housed The Fugard Theatre being revived. It’s now called the District Six Homecoming Centre (HCC) and the new exhibition on show, called Salon Afrique, is part of the venue’s launch as a cultural hub. Curated by Beathur Mgoza Baker and Sara Bint Moneer Khan, the exhibition features over 30 African artists. In line with the new space’s ethos, it aims to “unite diverse cultures from across the African continent through visual art in a “home” that represents hope, remembrance, and belonging.
Where: District Six Homecoming Centre (HCC), 15 Buitenkant St
When: 09h00 – 16h00 (Monday to Friday) and 10h00 – 14h00 (Saturday)
Cost: Free


OPEN 24 HRS ART in the CBD’s East City is on a mission to make art accessible, and its creators are of the view that “art appreciation is not the preserve of the privileged few”. The space is open 24 hours a day and provides a platform for artists to present their unfiltered ideas. Currently, the gallery has works by artists Bella Knemeyer and Unathi Mkonto on display.
Where: OPEN 24 HRS ART, 50 Harrington St
When: 24/7
Cost: Free

Nelson Mandela legacy exhibition

Cape Town’s majestic City Hall boasts a permanent Nelson Mandela legacy exhibition that's accessible to the public on weekdays. The installation, with interpretive panels, audio-visual and interactive displays, honours Madiba’s history and the country’s long struggle for liberation. One can either do a guided tour to see the various phases covered including an early life timeline, the 1940s and 1950s in Cape Town, 1960s events leading to imprisonment, prison years on Robben Island, struggle protests, 1980s negotiations, his release, 1994 democratic elections and presidency and legacy. To book a 45-minute viewing slot, email Mandela.Legacy@capetown.gov.za.
Where: Cape Town City Hall, Darling St
When: 10h00 – 16h00 (Tuesday to Friday)
Cost: Free

Rethinking the William Fehr Collection

People should not take things at face value and challenge themselves to grow and see the world differently. That’s the aim of this exhibition, curated by Esther Esmyol. While it’s slightly outside of the CCID’s operational footprint at the Castle of Good Hope, it’s worth viewing. It has extensive historical art and objects collected by Cape Town businessman Dr William Fehr. Iziko Museums, the custodian of the collection, urges viewers to look at the stories behind what’s presented and see multiple meanings.
Where: Castle of Good Hope, cnr Castle and Darling sts
When: 09h30 – 16h00 (Monday to Sunday)
Cost: R50 – R25

Dreams as R-evolution
Now on till 17 May 2022

This one-of-a-kind show features sculptural forms, drawings, paintings, photographs and costumes. Artist Coral Bijoux challenges viewers to think deeply about transforming themselves and their environments. Check it out and, as per the show’s four pillars, dare to “reimagine ideas of self, space, authority, power and innocence”.
Where: Iziko South African National Gallery, Government Ave
When: 09h30 – 15h30 (Monday to Sunday)
Cost: R15 – R30


Live Jazz at The Athletic Club & Social

The Athletic Club & Social hosts live jazz musicians on Thursday nights. Aside from the great line-up of artists each week, the three-storey venue has impressive food and cocktail menus and offers great views of Signal Hill. Tickets are available via Quicket.
Where: The Athletic Club & Social, 35 Buitengracht St
When: 21h00 – 23h00
Cost: R80 – R100

Sky-Hi Ride at Hotel Sky

Hotel Sky, the Cape Town Central City’s newest hotel, has a 35-metre Sky-Hi Ride on its rooftop. Thrill-seekers take a chair lift up and then drop down at a free-fall speed of 100 km/hour. The ride offers the best views of Cape Town and is reportedly the first of its kind in Africa and only one of seven in the world. You can purchase a ride or observer ticket. Have a look at what’s in store for you here and be sure to book your ticket here.
Where: 28th floor, Hotel Sky, 9 Lower Long St
When: 12h00 – 20h00, Wednesday to Sunday, weather permitting
Cost: R200

Friday Night Live at The Royal Oyster Bar

Catch live music at The Royal Oyster Bar on Friday Night Live. Diarise it so you can ease yourself into the weekend with good music, a selection of oyster and cocktail specials, and good food. To book, call 071 490 2834.
Where: The Royal Oyster Bar, 17 Bree St
When: 19h00
Cost: Free

The Blue Room at Grub & Vine

Treat yourself to the sounds of jazz and blues, delicious cocktails and food at The Blue Room at Grub & Vine. There are two sittings for the evening performances, which take place from Wednesday to Saturday. Thursday nights are reserved for Jazz Jam Sessions, while the other nights are reserved for performances by headline artists. Cocktails and tapas are served from 16h00 daily except on Sundays. Check out the venue’s website and social media pages to see who is performing next. A selection of spirits, wine and beers are also served.
Where: Grub & Vine, 103 Bree St
When: 20h00 & 21h30
Cost: Cover charge of R150 per person (R200 for both sittings) on Wednesday and Friday, and R120 for Jazz Jams on Thursday night.

Live music at Local at Heritage Square

Catch gifted local musicians singing live at Local at Heritage Square on Wednesdays. The food and drink emporium has various venues, including Mazza and Penny Noire Wine Bar, offering a variety of food and drink options.
Where: Shortmarket St, Local at Heritage Square
When: 18h00 – 21h00⁠
Cost: Free

City Sightseeing South Africa

Discover or rediscover Cape Town and its surroundings by hopping on the popular Red Bus by City Sightseeing South Africa. Choose from a range of packages available for adults and kids, including a Hop on Hop Off Tour between the CBD and the V&A Waterfront. The two-day Premium Hop On-Hop Off Ticket includes an option to choose between a Harbour or Canal Cruise inbetween the three stops.
Where: City Sightseeing South Africa, 81 Long St
When: 09h00 – 16h52
Cost: R49 – R499

Fable Music Sessions
Every Saturday

On Saturdays, Fable hosts DJ Tanner Mason who keeps patrons entertained with great music as they indulge in cocktails and good food.
Where: Fable, The Block, cnr Bree and Wale sts
When: 07h00 – 22h00
Cost: Free

Gin Saturdays at The Station On Bree
Every Saturday
: The Station On Bree (five double G&Ts with garnish)
When: 13h00 – 17h00
Cost: R200

Story time for children at Book Lounge
Every Saturday

Where: Book Lounge, 71 Roeland St
When: 11h00 (all kids are welcome and there’s no need to RSVP)
Cost: Free

First Thursdays
First Thursday of every month

Where: Cape Town CBD including inside galleries and restaurants
When: 17h00 till late
Cost: Free

IMAGES: Chandler House, The Athletic Club & Social, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra , South African Jewish Museum, Artist Admin

Tags: Central City events events in the CBD