Festival Tips

Experience a hassle-free National Arts Festival by keeping a few basic guidelines in mind when planning your time in Grahamstown. Here are some tips for first-time adventurers…


Festival first-timers

Plan carefully! Book some shows ahead, particularly any you want to see on the Main programme as these quite often sell out before the Festival starts. Don’t run yourself off your feet, though, or over-plan. Allow enough time during your stay to view exhibitions, take a tour, to shop at the craft fairs and to fit in any hit shows that are creating a buzz.


Festival programme

This contains all the detailed information on both Main and Fringe events and everything else you need to know to make sure your stay is a happy one. Purchase a copy on arrival in Grahamstown at any of the Information Centres. Hot tip: Before the Festival starts, you can pick up a copy of the Programme free at selected Standard Bank and Exclusive Books branches


Free offerings

There’s plenty on offer for free – from the legendary SAfm Sundowner Concerts (17:00 daily in the Monument Foyer); Art Exhibitions; Street Theatre; and ‘craft gazing’ at the Village Green Fair and Church Square. And if you haven’t yet joined ArtBucks you’re missing out on earning 10% credit on all your ticket purchases, to spend at next year’s Festival.


Venue map

A venue map is published inside the Festival Programme, and loose copies are available at Information Centres, hotels and residences. Detailed maps of Grahamstown may be purchased at the Makana Tourism Office at 63 High Street. Or you can download our App for iPhone or Android, which has the map integrated with all you need to know.


Hopper buses

The map includes ‘Hopper maps’. Hoppers are quick-trip taxis around town. A journey on a Hopper is free and every venue is within a 5-minute walk from a Hopper stop. These run throughout the day, with a limited service in the evenings.


Bring a day bag

A carry-all is useful for carrying your programme, souvenirs, purchases, umbrella, sunscreen, scarves and gloves etc. As locals will tell you, if you don’t like the weather in Grahamstown, wait five minutes…



Apart from the restaurants and food stalls on the streets, most venues offer a steady supply of sustenance at all hours. Alcoholic beverages are on sale at many venues.


Festival buzz

Spending time out and about is the best way to discover new gems – restaurants and late-night venues like the Long Table are excellent places to hang out with friends, locals and the artists themselves.


Dress code

Informal – but do anticipate unpredictable weather. Comfortable shoes are essential. Dress in layers and keep coats and scarves at hand as it may become bitterly cold.


Programme changes

Changes and cancellations are displayed at the Box Offices, as well as on the Festival app, website and social media channels. Starting times are adhered to as strictly as possible but allow at least 50 minutes between performances. We regret that no refunds on tickets can be made for late arrivals.



If not sold out, tickets may also be bought at performance venues 15 minutes prior to starting times.

The Fringe

The Fringe is a hotbed of innovation and packed with shows you will love discovering. Keep plenty of time on your schedule for the ‘hot buzz’ shows – the unexpected hits that get everyone talking, and the recipients of the coveted Standard Bank Ovation Awards, which are handed out from day one of the Festival.

The Fringe invades Grahamstown’s CBD with a huge variety of arts offerings that see seasoned pros and feisty newcomers united in the spirit of expression. They come from all nine provinces of South Africa as well as Swaziland, Botswana, Zimbabwe, the UK, the US, Australia and the Netherlands.

Your tips

Do you have any Festival tips to add to our list? Email us at [email protected] and we’ll put them up on the site.

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