See it all in the City of Saints

2010-05-29 06:25

From giant puppets to stiltwalkers, from a

contemporary ­African Swan Lake to piping-hot jazz, this year’s National Arts

Festival in Grahamstown ­offers a smorgasbord of ­entertainment diversions while

the world is in the grip of soccer ­fever this ­winter.

Now in its 36th year, this year’s extended festival takes place

from June 20 to July 4 – in what the organisers are dubbing “15 days of


Anyone who has made the pilgrimage to Grahamstown for their yearly

arts fix will tell you that this sleepy university town, whose multitude of

churches have earned it the label “the City of Saints” (or sometimes “the City

of Saints, Sinners and ­Students”), transforms into a ­bustling hub of activity

during festival time.

Many Eastern Cape locals make day trips to drink their fill of

culture; others trek from afar to be part of the addictive vibe that is

Grahamstown, with its cosy village atmosphere and its (usually nippy) air that

crackles with creativity.

This year’s festival features a Main programme, an edgier Fringe

programme and a new bridging programme, the Arena, wedged between the two.

There’s also oodles of music, dance, art, movies, physical theatre, free street

performances, children’s shows, talks, shopping and, of course, partying.


African artistic talent takes centre stage, but several African and

international productions and collaborations add more spice to the

­entertainment menu.


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