Dance, Theater, and Music

Artscape

“The former apartheid behemoth cultural bunker now showcases anything from amateur dramatics to world class opera.”—Brent Meersman, performing arts critic, Mail & Guardian. Also see comedy revues in its Arena studio space. DF Malan Street, Foreshore; tel. 27 21 410 9800. www.artscape.co.za

Baxter Theatre

“The copper-bottomed home of traditional plays.”—Brent Meersman. Best place to see live dramatic and comedic theater performances by top local talent, including indigenous South African performances. Building is a rare example of interesting Capetonian architecture from the 1970s; seats 665. Part of the Baxter Theatre Centre at the University of Cape Town. Main Road, Rondebosch; tel. 27 21 685 7880. www.baxter.co.za

Evita Se Perron

Travel an hour north of Cape Town to Darling for an audience with the hilarious characters in actor and writer Pieter-Dirk Uys’s satirical cabaret repertoire, including South Africa’s “most famous white woman,” Evita Bezuidenhout. Uys’s creations spout his witty lines and often stinging criticism of his beloved country both pre- and post-apartheid. Darling; tel. 27 22 492 2851. www.evita.co.za

Labia

“They show something for everyone—mainstream, alternative, and documentaries. And you can have a glass of wine or cup of coffee while watching the movie.”—Lee Harris, Africa Travel Centre. Charming art-house cinema that’s one of the few places in town where you’ll have a chance of seeing locally made movies. 68 Orange Street, Gardens; tel. 27 21 424 5927. www.labia.co.za

Nightlife

Café Manhattan

Eternal flame of De Waterkant’s gay quarter. The outdoor deck is the place for people-watching; occasional live music and a wide-ranging, non-fussy food menu. 74 Waterkant Street, De Waterkant; tel. 27 21 421 6666. www.manhattan.co.za

La Med

“Probably the best mix of people—from models to backpackers just off the overland bus.”—Patrick Farrell, editor, Cape-I magazine. No-frills shoreside bar that’s the place to toast the sunset. Awesome views from outdoor tables of the Twelve Apostles buttresses alongside Table Mountain. Glen Country Club, Victoria Road, Clifton; tel. 27 21 438 5600. www.lamed.co.za

Mama Africa

“Touristy but still loads of fun. Worth a visit for the bar—designed to look like a giant snake—and the Coke bottle chandelier alone.”—Patrick Farrell. Perennially popular joint where you can eat and drink to the rhythms of live marimba and other Afro-beats. 178 Long Street, City Bowl; tel. 27 21 426 1017.

Alba Lounge

Coolest cocktail bar at the Waterfront. Balcony overlooks the harbor and bay. Has a roaring central fire in the winter. First floor, Hildegards, Pierhead, Waterfront; tel. 27 21 425 3385. www.albalounge.co.za

Mercury Live & Lounge

“Best place to be on a Friday night for unashamed dance floor moves.”—Patrick Farrell. Warehouse-style space on the eastern edge of City Bowl. Hosts some of the Cape’s top bands and singers. DJs spin fun dance tracks from ’70s and ’80s in the cozy lounge. 43 De Villiers Street, Zonnebloem; tel. 27 21 465 2106. www.mercuryl.co.za

Nose Wine Bar

Work your way through some of the Cape’s best wines such as Constantia Uitsig, Jordan Rhine, and Graham Beck—accompanied by inventive local food. Wine tasting courses available. Cape Quarter, 72 Waterkant Street, De Waterkant; tel. 27 21 425 2200. www.thenose.co.za

Festivals

Cape Town Minstrel Carnival

January-February. More than 35 minstrel marching troupes don satin-shiny costumes and parade through the city to celebrate the New Year and compete for trophies. Processions start in front of Old City Hall, end at Green Point Stadium. Big parades held December 31st and January 2nd; smaller ones on Saturday nights in January and early February. www.capetownminstrels.co.za

J&B Met

Last Saturday in January. South Africa’s richest horse race—a nearly $200,000 purse—is the social event of the season. Glamorous spectators, live music, and, yes, a race featuring a field of top-flight thoroughbreds. Held at Kenilworth Race Course. www.jbmet.co.za

Cape Town International Jazz Festival

Late March. Cape Town’s biggest jazz event. Attracts international headliners such as Elvis Costello, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Randy Crawford. Concerts held at Cape Town International Convention Centre with a free, open-air performance in Greenmarket Square. www.capetownjazzfest.com

Cape Town Festival

April. Performing arts festival designed to promote cultural diversity showcases Cape Town’s most creative souls. Events range from spoken word performances to extravagant fashion shows, street parties, dance, theater, and all kinds of music. Venues across the city. www.capetownfestival.co.za

Cape Town International Comedy Festival

September. Three weeks of comedy shows held around the city. Venues include the Baxter Theatre and Artscape. Includes street performances and screenings of short film comedies. www.comedyfestival.co.za

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