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The Grahamstown National Arts Festival

The Grahamstown National Arts Festival in South Africa is the biggest arts festival on the African continent, drawing performers and entertainers from all over the world. The festival has been in existence since 1974 when the student town of Grahamstown hosted the first National Arts Festival. Grahamstown is home to about seventy thousand people (this number triples during festival days) and home to Rhodes University. Situated about 120km north-east of Port Elizabeth, it is home to some the country’s oldest and most prestigious schools.

Grahamstown Festival

For most of the year, Grahamstown is a relatively quiet country town…well, about as quiet as a University town can be. Students from all over South Africa make Grahamstown their home whilst they complete their University degrees. But, once every year in July, the National Arts Festival comes to town and shakes everything up.

The festival is made up of the Main and Fringe programmes, the Main hosting the bigger, more established artists and performers, whilst the Fringe is the place to find up and coming new talent and acts. During festival time, the whole town is geared up for the influx of visitors and it can be hard to find accommodation, especially on weekends. Every church and school hall is utilized to showcase the best of the country’s drama, musical, comedy and artistic talent. The usually quiet High Street becomes a bustling street market of vendors from all over Africa selling handmade curios and art. Traders and artists from Senegal, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and many other African countries migrate south for the festival, loading their vehicles with their precious wares.

Festival business

Although there isn’t a meter of space anywhere in the town that isn’t occupied by a small entrepreneur, the Transnet Village Green market is definitely the place to be if you’re looking for a day of shopping and bargain hunting. The market is open every day during the festival from 9am to 5pm and hosts a variety of nearly 800 stalls or shops. It’s quite easy to spend an entire day at this market, meandering through the maze of stalls. There’s a fantastic selection of local handmade wares, including clothing, jewelry, leather goods….even cacti ! Should the shopping prove too tiring for you, there is also a beer garden and wide variety of food stalls where you can refuel. Another great attraction is the stage in the center of the market. Each day, performers from various shows featured on the Fringe festival, come out to give festival goers or “festinos” a taste of what their show has to offer. So, if you can’t make up your mind what to go and see, it can be very helpful to catch some of the teaser shows at the Village Green.

traders doing business

For 11 days in July every year, Grahamstown is host to the National Arts Festival and becomes a hive of activity with festival goers and traders coming from all over the country to participate. If you are looking for a taste of South African culture, or feel the need to spend the day shopping on the markets filled with unique items, the Grahamstown festival is not to be missed 🙂


Travel to Exotic Festival Locations around the World !

cape town carnival

There are so many amazing Festivals in countries around the world every year. South Africa is no exception when it comes to hosting a wide variety of unique and interesting arts, music and cultural festivals. Cape Town, perhaps one of the most beautiful cities in the world is host to some 30 amazing festivals every year. Fortunately if you are up to backpacking in Cape Town, there are some top notch places to choose from. The picture that many people have when you speak about tours is the idea of travelling in a bus from place to place getting in and getting out at each venue.  Organized tours can also turn out to be very expensive. There is good news; there are many different types of tours out there that do not cost an arm and a leg. Below you will see two different ways that you can tour and enjoy Cape Town’s friendly atmosphere and stunning scenery.

Cycle Tours

Travelling around Cape Town on a bicycle is an ideal way in which to see the City and its surrounds. The main advantage of sightseeing by bicycle is that you can choose the area that suits you. It also does not have to be a lengthy trip.

Here are some amazing cycle tours that are available:

Table Mountain Cycle Tour:

Table Mountain offers many types of hiking tours but the mountain bike tour is the most exhilarating experience of them all. Here you will be riding through a wonderful scenic route and will be able to take in the breath-taking views of the Mother City, the mountains and the ocean. You will also be able to breath in the strong aroma of the fynbos that covers the whole mountain side. Most of the tour guides will take you to the top of the bike trail and then you ride down the mountain along the many scenic mountain paths. The path takes you along all the off-road trails around Devils Peak and ends at a site where you will be able to view both oceans at once.

Wine lands Cycle Tour:

The Stellenbosch wine region has stunning landscapes and the best way to take all this in, is to do a Stellenbosch Wine Route Cycle Tour. With your bicycle you are able to use all the off-road tracks and old farm roads which will enable you to enjoy this amazing scenery and go through areas you would normally not have access to. There will stops along the way at various wine farms where you will be able to do some wine-tasting. Most of the tour guides offer a relaxed tour of 10 Km, but for the more adventurous there is also a 20 Km tour as well.

Cape Town City Cycle Tour:

If you want an independent feeling and be in control of your own vehicle then this tour is for you. The tour begins at Green Point and you travel along the beachfront and then by making use of cycle paths along the way you will come out at the artistic suburb of Bo-Kaap. You will then make your way to the Company’s Gardens and pass by the cathedral on to Green Market Square. This is one of the numerous adventure tours available to you at Ashanti Travel Centre. The tour will then lead you along Adderley Street and passed the Grand Parade to end at the five-pointed stone castle.


Horse Riding Tours

If the bicycle is too strenuous for you then there is always the horseback tour.  This is just as adventurous but with a great deal less effort required.

Stellenbosch Game Reserve Horse Riding Trail:

This game reserve is set on a 240 Ha site and riding on horseback is the only way to really enjoy what it has to offer. On your trail ride you will be able to see zebra, springbok, eland, gemsbok, kudu, giraffe, wildebeest and a large variety of bird life. This is an experience for the whole family as no prior experience in horse riding is required. There is a 1, 5 hour ride that takes you through the game reserve. Also available is a 2 to 3 hour ride that includes the vineyards and some wine-tasting.

Beach Horse Riding Trail:

This ride will take you along one of Cape Town’s finest beaches, the Noordhoek beach. This beach is ideal to explore on horseback as the sand stretches out for miles on end and has stunning views of the ocean and Chapman’s Peak. This ride is also one for the whole family as no prior experience in horseback riding is required.

Ashanti offers friendly and great services, especially to the backpacker and budget traveller. Not only do they offer exciting tours but also have excellent accommodation facilities. With Ashanti’s accommodation, available in Green Point and Gardens you can relax and enjoy your stay. They will assist you with all you need to make your stay special and memorable.

Psychology as an Art Form – Maryke Woolf

All creativity stems from the mind of the human being. Whether it’s poetry, creative writing, dance or contemporary art. It’s not exactly clear why some people are naturally more gifted in their creativity than others. Some people can spontaneously spurt poetry from their mouths or sketch the most realistic drawings, while others are better skilled at solving complex mathematical equations or playing on the football field. Festivals around the world are always host to these creative people, who choose to rendezvous at arts gatherings where they an share their poetic talents. Psychologists have spent years researching the the levels of left brain and right brain activity and how these influence each persons specific abilities.

It seems that at this point research shows that it largely boils down to DNA as to what talents you will inherit. Whether you will be a creative person who enjoys music, art and dance, or a sportsman or scientist. Artists and creative people are often more prone to depression and other psychiatric conditions than those that are less creatively inclined. Maryke Woolf a Newlands psychologist is experienced in dealing with creative people suffering from anxiety and depression. Dr Woolf’s psychology practice in Newlands is situated close to the Baxter Theater which is used to showcase local artists and performers as well as international acts. Maryke deals with patients from all walks of life, not just musicians and artists. Having completed a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology, Dr Woolf is qualified to deal with patients suffering from all kinds of difficulties. Maryke deals with patients who are dealing with trauma, marital difficulties, suffering grief and loss as well as other psychological disorders like bipolar. Over the past decade or two the need for people to meet with a psychologist to process difficult emotions or events in their lives has increased dramatically. Perhaps it is due to the fast pace of life in this technological age, or maybe because seeing a psychologist has become more socially acceptable. This is particularly true for men who are often stereotyped as being shut off from their emotions. Newlands is a beautiful, leafy suburb of Cape Town close to the renowned Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Maryke believes that trust is the most important factor that needs to be established between herself and her clients. It is essential to create a non judgemental environment where the patient can feel accepted and heard without fear of being judged. As psychologist based in Newlands, Maryke treats patients from surrounding areas including Claremont, Rondebosch and Bishops Court. For more information about this Newlands psychologist click here.

Maryke is registered with several of the Medical governing bodies and her fees can be claimed back from your medical aid scheme as long as they include the necessary benefits. Please check with you Medical aid provider first to be certain that they do cover visits to psychologists. Please contact us via our contact page if you have nay queries or anything to add to this article.


What about this Festive Gift Idea ?

Trying to find the perfect for somebody is so hard, especially if that person already owns almost anything you can think of that they might like. It’s possible to spend hours searching online or scouring the mall looking for that unique item that may interest them. I recently discovered Kustom Culture at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival. These guys have made it super easy to create your own personalized gifts in just a few minutes. I noticed a huge crowd at a stall on the Village Green Market, so I wandered over interested to see what all the fuss was about. After managing to peak my head over a group of excited teenagers I finally realized what all the fuss was about. The stall was offering people the chance to customize their own products for themselves or to be given as gifts. The process involved choosing a plain/unprinted product and then deciding on how you would like to customize it. This is achieved by using a sublimation process where your photo or design is first printed onto thermal paper and then later fused onto the blank product using a heat transfer process. When the paper is heated the ink is turned into gas and then bonds with the polyester coated surface of the product being customized.

custom design

The stall had a great selection of products that could be custom designed, including covers for most brands of mobile phones, wall tiles, coffee mugs and what seemed to be the most popular, t-shirts. I wasn’t quite ready to make a purchase but the helpful staff handed me a business card with all the business details including their website address.

A month later, I found myself scratching my head trying to think of a present to give my mother on Mother’s Day. I just couldn’t bring myself to buy her another bunch of flowers, gift voucher for the local book store or set of pleasantly scented bathroom toiletries. That’s when I remembered Kustom Culture, so I fired up my browser and headed over to their website. I was pleasantly surprised at how remarkably easy they have made it to get through the process of selecting an item, adding your own design or photo, checking out, paying and waiting for delivery (which is free with purchases over two hundred rand). I chose a nice comfortable looking t-shirt after checking the sizing specifications and set about custom designing the t-shirt for my mom. The website uses a fancy product designer that allows you to import your own photos, add text and manipulate everything until you’re happy. I finished up, paid and waited for my order to be delivered. Three days later I received my order from Kustom Culture in the mail. The quality of the printing is unbelievable, with incredible photographic detail. If you are looking to custom design your own T-shirt and give somebody a truly unique gift then I recommend you take a look at whats on offer at the Kustom Culture website.