Festival Tips

Experience a hassle-free National Arts Festival by keeping a few guidelines in mind when planning how to spend your time in Makhanda. Here are some tips for cultural adventurers…

tips for newbies

Festival first-timers

Plan carefully! Book some shows ahead, particularly those you want to see on the Main programme as these quite often sell out before the Festival starts. But don’t over-commit. Allow enough time in your days to view exhibitions, linger in interesting places – and to fit in any hit shows that are creating a buzz. It’s always worth stepping out your comfort zone and trying out something you’ve never done before.

programme tips

Festival programme

The easiest way to navigate the jam-packed programme is by downloading our free Festival app (iOS and Android). You can use the app as a portable Festival planner as well as to make secure bookings for tickets. You can also buy a copy of the programme on your arrival from any of the Information Centres. PS: The full programme is also available as a downloadable PDF off this website too.

budget tips

Free offerings

There’s plenty on offer for free – from the legendary 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.

direction tips

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 Makhanda 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.

transport tips

Monument shuttle

The Festival operates a shuttle between the Monument, the Village Green and Rhodes Theatre. This is a free hop-on, hop-off service that operates between 8:00 and 22:00 every day of the Festival. Pick-up points are clearly marked along the route.

what to wear tips

Dress code

Informal – but do anticipate unpredictable and highly changeable weather. Comfortable shoes and a carry bag are essential. Dress in layers and keep warm things at hand as it may become bitterly cold. As locals will tell you, if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes…

eating out tips


Apart from the restaurants and food stalls on the streets, most venues offer a steady supply of sustenance at all hours. Spending time out and about is the best way to discover new gems – restaurants and late-night venues such as the Long Table are excellent places to hang out with friends, locals and the artists themselves. Alcoholic beverages are on sale at many venues.

social tips

Festival buzz

Talking to people on the street is a sure-fire way of finding out what’s hot on the Fringe. Keep an eye on the Festival’s social media channels to see what’s going down – extra shows, free performances and changes. Like our Facebook page, follow @artsfestival on Twitter and drool over our Instagram feed. We’d love to hear from you too, so be sure to tag us in anything you post.

ticket tips


These are available online, on our app and at the Box Offices around town. If a show is not sold out, tickets may be bought at performance venues 15 minutes prior to starting times. Discounts are available on some shows for learners, students and pensioners. Look out for daily specials from the Half Price Hut.

tips for keeping track

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.

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 Makhanda’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.

Share your tips

Do you have any Festival tips to add to our list? Tweet us or email us at [email protected] and we’ll put them up on the site – please use the hashtag #naftips

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