What you need to know about the high-season holidays

  • 12 December 2014 | Cassidy Parker

High season, festive season, silly season: call it what you will, it’s here and the next few weeks are awash with celebrations and holidays.

It’s an exciting time, but can also be quite a disruptive time for tourists who are trying to arrange various activities. In an effort to help you be more helpful, we’ve put together some information that should be useful in co-ordinating your visitors’ movements around this time.

Tuesday 16 December: Day of Reconciliation

On this public holiday, most businesses will be closed and perhaps some smaller stores too. However, it is likely that most major shops will be open as people begin their Christmas shopping in earnest, and your visitors shouldn’t have a problem grabbing a table at a restaurant, many of which will be gearing up for the high-season crowds.

Some major shopping malls will be open according to the following hours:

  • Sandton City, Johannesburg: 9am to 9pm (from 1 to 23 December)
  • V&A Waterfront, Cape Town: 9am to 10pm (from 10 to 24 December)
  • Gateway, Durban: 9am to 10pm (from 12 to 23 December)

Thursday 25 December: Christmas Day

Another public holiday, Christmas Day often involves South Africans spending time with their families, and many attractions, shops and restaurants are likely to be closed. Be sure to call ahead for your guests if you are recommending any activities to them. If you’re in Cape Town, the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway will be open – depending on the weather.

Take a look at Cape Town from above on Christmas Day

Of course, encouraging your guests to enjoy the great outdoors in some way would not only enable them to soak up some of South Africa’s summer sunshine, but would not be dependent on opening hours of any kind.

When it comes to food, why not invite your guests to celebrate Christmas the way you do (whatever that may be: a roast, a braai, a peanut-butter sandwich), or ask them how they would celebrate if they were at home, incorporating some of their ideas.

Friday 26 December: Boxing Day

On Boxing Day, people tend to surface from their Christmas laziness and overindulgence, and many major attractions, shops and restaurants will open their doors once again.

In Johannesburg, the Apartheid Museum will be open between the hours of 9am and 5pm.

The Apartheid Museum offers some historic insights on Boxing Day

Wednesday 31 December: New Years’ Eve

Although this isn’t a public holiday, we thought we’d mention it since it’s the day that that silliness is likely to reach its peak – particularly in the evening, of course. We’ll be posting some ideas on what to recommend to your guests nearer the time, so be sure to keep your eye on our news pages.

Thursday 1 January 2015: New Year’s Day

Another public holiday, New Year’s Day in South Africa, sees many businesses closed. Like Christmas Day, be sure to call ahead if you are recommending an outing to your visitors.

There is some comfort, though: in major cities, many restaurants will be open and all too willing to serve their customers large cups of coffee and scrumptious breakfasts.

If you’re in Cape Town, be sure to insist that your visitors experience the Kaapse Klopse, a world-famous event that takes place on the streets of Cape Town’s city centre. This colourful parade involves the Cape Minstrels dressing in their finest, most colourful costumes and dancing to the beats of various marching bands. Although it is traditionally held on 2 January, and this year has been moved to the 5th, Kaapse Klopse is an essential part of New Year’s festivities in Cape Town.

Cape Town's New Year's festivities are not to be missed