As much as it is known for its natural landscape, Cape Town's very identity is shaped by its iconic events. Locals and visitors from different backgrounds often find themselves celebrating side-by-side in the city's wide selection of annual cultural celebrations.
Here is a list of some of the city's not-to-be-missed yearly events.
Annual events in Cape Town
The Sun Met (January/February)
Previously known as the J&B Met, this is both the city's biggest horse-racing event of the year and a fashion lifestyle event attended by the city's rich, famous and beautiful. The place to see and be seen, the Met has attendants vying for the coveted honour of being dubbed 'best dressed'. With so much glitz and glamour, it's easy to forget that the ostensible reason for the event is a horse race.
Cape Town Cycle Tour (March)
The largest timed cycle race in the world, the Cape Town Cycle Tour (sometimes referred to by its former title, 'The Argus') attracts over 35,000 riders a year and is a city-stopping showpiece for spectators and cyclists alike. The route starts in the city centre before wending around the coast of the Southern Peninsula, over Chapman's Peak, and finally to the finish in Green Point. The vast majority of riders are amateurs, which lends the race a fun-filled atmosphere that belies the testing nature of the strenuous 68-mile (109 km) route.
Cape Town International Jazz Festival (March/April)
Starting out as the North Sea Jazz Festival in 2000, the Cape Town Jazz Festival has grown to become one of the city's most prominent yearly events. It is the fourth-largest jazz festival in the world and the biggest jazz festival in Africa. The event consistently attracts international performers. In addition to the paid performances that make up the bulk of the programme, the festival also offers those who can't afford the hefty ticket prices a free concert with selected performers at Greenmarket Square.
Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts (November to March)
Every Sunday evening during summer, the magnificent Kirstenbosch Gardens hosts a series of sunset concerts featuring local and international artists. Bring a blanket and a picnic basket and enjoy great music under a summer sky framed by Table Mountain.
The world-famous Mother City Queer Project has become the biggest costume party on the city's calendar. Each year's theme invites outrageous and imaginative costumes and attracts people from across all spectrums – everyone is welcome to join the festivities, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, age or race.
►Read Kids and Family in Cape Town for some fun family outing ideas
Are you an expat living in Cape Town?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Cape Town. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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