From the world’s largest timed bicycle race and its most beautiful marathon to street carnivals and Jazz festivals, Cape Town and the Western Cape plays host to a number of signature events. Thousands of revelers – local and foreign – mark the dates in their diaries every year, to make sure they never miss a beat!
Held in late January every year, the Sun Met is the jewel in crown of the Cape horse racing calendar. Attracting 50,000 spectators – and not just for the horses - It’s held at the Kenilworth Race Track (the oldest in the country). Fashion is a big deal here, so make sure you wear your very best, you may even find yourself in line for best dressed. The Met is run on the last Saturday of January every year, and is a staple on the social calendar. It was first run in 1883 (as the Metropolitan Mile), and it is now one of the most anticipated events in the country.
Volvo Ocean Race
The Volvo Ocean Race is one of the world’s premier yacht events and is held once every three years. Cape Town, of course, has been a fixture in the event since it first began in 1974 and continues to be a favourite stopover for the crews – and the supporters. The Race Village at the V&A Waterfront is a focal point of the race and brings the competitors and supporters together through a variety of great experiences.
Cape to Rio
The Cape to Rio Yacht Race is South Africa’s premier ocean sailing event and the only transatlantic race to take place in the South Atlantic. Starting in Cape Town and ending in Rio de Janeiro, the race always takes place in January so that the crews finish around the start of the carnival in Rio. Organised by the Royal Cape Yacht Club, the total length of the race is approximately 3,600 nautical miles (6,700 kilometers) across the Atlantic. It is therefore the longest non-stop sailing competition held in the southern hemisphere.
Cape Town Marathon
Flat, fast and ideal for both elite and amateur runners, the Cape Town Marathon takes over the Mother City’s streets early September every year. Africa’s only IAAF Gold Label status marathon, it draws a large foreign contingent every year, with more than 80 countries from around the world being represented in 2018. Whether you are looking to take part or just support, this fantastic race is worth getting up early for. Apart from the 42.2km race, the event includes the 10km Peace Run/Walk, the Cape Town Peace Trail Runs (12km and 22km) and a community fun run.
CT Cycle tour
The world’s largest timed cycle race, the Cape Cycle Tour is the jewel in the crown for cycling in the Mother City and easily one of South Africa’s largest – and most popular – sporting events. Held every year in March, the route is 109km long and one of the most beautiful in the world, circling the Cape Peninsula with the start and the finish in the shadow of the iconic Table Mountain. Be sure to explore the Cape Town Cycle Tour Expo before the race as it has become almost as popular as the race itself with all sorts of cycling goodies to browse!
Get ready for one of the Mother City’s biggest parties! The Cape Town Carnival is a glamorous celebration of African identity, diverse communities and cultures, and the transformative power of creativity. The carnival parade begins at around 7.30pm and lasts for around two hours, but the festivities kick off long before with food stalls and hospitality areas lining the streets. Expect dazzling large scale floats with more than 2000 costumed dancers, musicians and entertainers in tow.
Absa Cape Epic
An iconic stage-racing event, the Absa Cape Epic has become one of mountain biking’s biggest draws globally. The largest full-service mountain bike stage race in the world, the Cape Epic covers 700kms of the Western Cape region in South Africa. The route changes significantly each year and lures amateur and professional cyclists from across the globe to test their mettle. In 2015, 55 countries were represented at the race, which kicked off with a prologue on the slopes of Table Mountain and culminated in the Grand Finale finish at Meerendal Wine Estate in Durbanville.
CT International Jazz Festival
Every year, Cape Town gives jazz lovers a chance to see top local and international jazz musicians at the foot of Table Mountain. The Cape Town International Jazz festival is the fourth-biggest jazz festival in the world and the largest music event in sub-Saharan Africa, drawing in an excess of 35,000 people every year. The organisers promise an incredible line-up of more than 40 performers and jazz virtuosos who will grace the stages of “Africa’s Grandest Gathering” over the two show days.
Two Oceans Ultra Marathon
Every Easter Weekend, more than 10 000 runners descend on Cape Town to take on the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon – a 56km ultra marathon dubbed “the world’s most beautiful marathon”. The route makes its way around the Cape Peninsula, incorporating both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and some of the most jaw-dropping scenery the Cape has to offer, including Chapman’s Peak and Constantia Nek, before finishing on the fabled ‘Green Mile’ at the University of Cape Town. The Two Oceans Half Marathon – run on the same day - is also incredibly popular with 15 000 runners taking part.
Clipper round the world yacht race
The Clipper Race is one of the biggest challenges of the natural world and an endurance test like no other. Raced in eight legs around the world, crews are made up of trained amateur crew members. The organisers own a fleet of identical yachts, the Clipper 70, and provide qualified skippers and additional qualified persons to lead each team. Cape Town again plays host to a global race, with the crews in 2019 expected to start arriving in early November, with the race village a highlight of the experience.