NELSON Mandela Bay’s festive season is set to start on a high note with Transnet National Ports Authority’s (TNPA) PEople’s Port Festival at the Port Elizabeth harbour on December 1 and 2. The popular event made its return in 2017 after a long hiatus and this year will be celebrated under the theme “100th Centenary of Madiba.” Nationally, port festivals are part of TNPA’s efforts to transform the country’s commercial ports into “Smart People’s Ports”, with a focus on community engagement, tourism, leisure, recreation, and career and business opportunities. These were once regular events attracting thousands of visitors until the advent of the ISPS code of safety for ports, which since 2011 has placed limitations on public interaction with ports. Port Elizabeth port manager, Rajesh Dana, said, “Last year we had 90 000 people attend the first PEople’s Port Festival and this year we will be looking to welcome even greater numbers. We promise a wide range of port experiences that delight families while delivering on our important underlying strategic focus of raising awareness of the ports, including the career and business opportunities they represent.”The two-day festival will offer the Nelson Mandela Bay community the rare chance to see the inner-workings of the Port of Port Elizabeth through a range of fun, educational land-side and waterside activities that showcase some of the incredible technology, machinery and maritime experiences offered by the port. Highlights will include tours of South African Navy vessels and TNPA marine craft, bus tours exploring areas that are restricted to the public, the Bayworld experiential area, Bocadillo’s pop-up restaurant plus many food trucks and vendors, live entertainment by national and local artists, a spectacular laser show, shark displays and so much more. “The 2018 People’s Port Festival promises to be unique, exciting, fun, energetic, colourful and vibrant and it will be the perfect way to kick off the holidays and festive season,” said Dana.Dana added that the 2018 festival theme would pay homage to former president, Nelson Mandela, during the year commemorating the centenary of his birth. The Port of PE has the honour of having two new tugs named in tribute to Mandela – MVEZO named after the small Eastern Cape village where he was born, and QUNU named after the village where he grew up.The gates will be open from 10:00 to 22:00 on Saturday, December 1, and from 10:00 to 16:00 on Sunday, December 2. Entry to the festival is free.Most of the festival activities are free, with a few requiring a nominal ticket purchase directly from the vendors. Food and beverages will be on sale throughout the festival.The festival area will be a pedestrian-only zone and shuttles will be available from the designated parking areas entered via the Campanile or Green Street.Those interested in participating as a vendor or performer at the PEople’s Port Festival can contact email@example.com.