Heritage Day: Celebrating Cape Town’s History + Diversity

Heritage Day: Celebrating Cape Town’s History + Diversity

From koesisters and Bo-Kaap bredies to museum tours and community walks, we reflect on – and celebrate – the beauty of our rainbow nation this Heritage Day.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu famously coined the term “rainbow nation” to describe South Africa – our beloved country – with its 11 official languages and a wonderfully diverse mix of cultures. Of course, with diversity comes a complicated history, which includes moments of pride, decades of shame and sorrow, the legacy of which is still felt today.

On Heritage Day, we acknowledge the good and the bad. We revel in the cultural diversity that is reflected in our art, music and cuisine, while celebrating the ideal of unity, and the ways in which we can join forces to build a brighter, safer and more equitable future for all our citizens.

In this spirit, we’ve rounded up a comprehensive list of things to do on Heritage Day – from shisa nyamas and koesisters to community walks and museum tours.

Do you know of any quintessentially Cape Town things to do in our heritage-rich city? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

Where to celebrate Heritage Day

Heritage Day events
The Cape’s culinary heritage
Historic wine farms
Museums + historical places

Heritage Day events

Khwa !Ttu Heritage Festival

Khwa !Ttu Heritage Festival Heritage Day

Heritage Day is a time to celebrate, remember and pay tribute to the diverse mix of cultures and traditions that have contributed to the rise of our beloved rainbow nation. So, it’s rather apt that !Khwa Ttu, the San Culture and Educational Centre, is hosting a four-day festival at its camping and adventure site on the West Coast. Guests can look forward to a long weekend of food stalls, family-friendly activities and cultural tours, all geared towards commemorating South Africa’s earliest known inhabitants. And, if you’d like to stay over, there is accommodation in well-equipped camping sites.
Date 21 – 24 September
Cost R70 (one-day admission, adult + 2 children under 18)
R50 (one-day admission, pensioner)
R100 (one-night camping accommodation)
R100 (Family Fun Run)
R100 (Family Mountain Bike Ride)
Contact 0861 321 777, info@westcoastway.co.za
Where to find it Khwa !Ttu, Grootwater Farm, Yzerfontein
Book Now

Six-Gun Braai Festival at Fort Wynyard

This historic fort in Green Point is renowned for its military and historic pedigree, complete with a labyrinth of tunnels, bunkers and impressive artillery pieces. Its setting – in a lush greenbelt, with sensational views of Table Mountain, Signal Hill and the Atlantic Ocean – make it a wonderful venue for a sizzling Heritage Day Braai Festival.
Guests can expect a delicious braaied meal, a braai competition, craft beers on tap, wine-tasting, live entertainment, bunker tours, and fun and games for kids. Enjoy your finger-licking plate of food at shaded tables, while you soak up the scene. Not a meat-eater? Vegetarian options are available, as well as a halaal menu.
Please note No food, beverages and chairs may be brought into the venue. Please bring cash, as there will be no ATMs.
Good to know Dogs are welcome.
Date 24 September 2019, 11am – 10pm
Contact 0796228597, thelocalfoodtruckmarket@gmail.com
Cost R60 (early bird)
R80 (regular bird)
R100 (late bird)
R120 (door)
Free (children 0 – 13 years)
Where to find it Fort Wynyard, corner of Granger Bay Boulevard and Fort Wynyard Road, Green Point
Book Now

CHEP Constantia Heritage Day Walk

The Constantia Heritage and Education Project initiated the first spontaneous Heritage Day Memorial Walk in September 2016 that’s since become an annual event commemorating the Constantia residents who were forcibly removed under the Group Areas Act of 1950. The walk is an unforgettable experience of oral history, with former residents coming together to share stories, poetry, comedy and music. In 2019, the annual walk is led by a band and ends at Groot Constantia where groups can join guided tours of the farm. Everybody is welcome to attend, and donations are encouraged.
Date  24 September
Time 10am – 1.30pm
Contact 078 198 1156, info@constantiaheritage.org.za
Cost Free; donations are welcome
Where to find it The Commemorative Plaque at High Constantia

The Afrofest

Afrofest Heritage Day

Discover Cape Town’s rich heritage at The Afrofest 2019 – a city-wide initiative that celebrates the beauty and diversity of African culture and heritage, with a host of events all over town. The four-day event has a varied lineup of events – from concerts, exhibitions, dance challenges, markets and film screenings – so there’s bound to be something for everyone this Heritage weekend. There are even masterclasses with world-class artists, where you can learn about traditional and contemporary mosaic art, and create your own piece.
Date 21 – 24 September
Contact 082 751 2898, theafrofest@gmail.com
Cost R250 (all-events pass; includes discounts to shops and masterclasses)
Free – R150 (individual events)
R450 – R900 (masterclasses)
Where to find it Numerous venues throughout Cape Town
Book Now

Bo-Kaap Heritage Day Celebrations

Bo Kaap Heritage Celebrations Heritage Day

Join the colourful community of Bo-Kaap this Heritage Day for a fun-filled, family festival. Guests are invited to take a walk (or run) through the streets, before enjoying live entertainment and food stalls, serving an array of Cape Malay favourites, such as curries and koesisters. And, of course, there’ll be a kids’ play area. In addition to traditional Cape Malay receitals, karate demonstrations and zumba sessions, the Kaapse Klopse will be in attendance, singing and dancing their way through the streets.
Date 24 September 2019
Time 9am – 5pm
Contact 084 836 8105, shafwaanl@gmail.com
Cost Free entry
Where to find it Boorhaanol Community Centre, Pentz Street, Bo-Kaap

The Cape’s culinary heritage

Cape Town is, without a doubt, the foodie capital of South Africa, offering a smorgasbord of options – from Asian-fusion fine-dining to farm-to-table Winelands experiences. Heritage Day is as good a time as any to explore our city’s rich culinary roots, which date back to when the Cape of Good Hope served as a trading post for Dutch sailors travelling between Europe and Asia.
As such, Cape Town is a veritable melting pot of exciting cultures and cuisines, all of which reflect our city’s rich, often-complicated past. Here are five quintessentially Cape Town foods we recommend you try:

The Gatsby

Yaaseen Barnes

Recognisable by its gargantuan proportions, overflowing with fillings and sauces, the Gatsby is Cape Town’s signature sandwich – an icon of sorts. With a history traceable to the Cape Flats in the 70’s (where Athlone shop owner Rashaad Pandy needed a quick meal to feed workers), the Gatsby is a tangible taste of Cape Town’s heritage. Or as University of the Western Cape student, Tasneem Wentzel, says in her master thesis on the evolution of the Gatsby: “It’s the intersection of food, culinary heritage, tradition, politics and history on a plate”.
Where to taste it Voted Cape Town’s favourite takeaway in a 2019 poll, The Golden Dish in Gatesville has been a local favourite since it opened in the 1960s. Try your hand at the Masala Steak Gatsby. And come hungry.
Contact 021 633 7864, 021 829 0737

Cape Malay cuisine

The story behind Cape Malay cuisine is no fairytale; rather, the embodiment of how food helped a community to deal with, and transcend, hardship. The slaves that were brought to the Cape by the Dutch colonists are the forebears of our Cape Malay community, and when they arrived, they brought their delicious recipes with them. (Un)fortunately, they did not have access to the same ingredients, so they re-imagined their original dishes, using local produce, combined with Dutch influences. What emerged are some wonderfully unique South African favourites, such as bobotie, tomato bredie and denningvleis (dried fruit and meat curry).
Where to taste it The Bo-Kaap Kombuis in the Bo-Kaap is the ultimate stop for traditional Cape Malay cuisine. Run by Yusuf and Nazli Larney, this eatery prides itself on authenticity and accessibility – serving delicious Malay-style dishes to all who wander through the colourful streets on the slopes of Signal Hill.
Contact 021 422 5446, nazli@bokaapkombuis.co.za
Good to know If you’re looking for a fine-dining take on these beloved classics, you should visit Upper Bloem in Green Point, where chef André Hill, who was raised in the Bo-Kaap, has created a menu that pays homage to his roots.


Seafood Kalkys Heritage Day

Seafood, obviously, is by no means a uniquely Cape Town speciality, but the fact that we’re surrounded by two vast oceans means we’re spoilt for choice, with freshly caught bounty from the east and west coasts. One of our favourite spots to splurge on nature’s ultimate fast food is in the bohemian suburb of Kalk Bay on the False Bay coastline, where you’ll find smack-of-the-sea platters, as well as an array of quirky cafés, boutiques and galleries.
Where you taste it Kalky’s in Kalk Bay has stood the test of time, cementing itself as a local favourite for freshly caught fish. While you’re literally seated in the harbour you can enjoy classic fish and chips, or share the Kalky’s Platter, which includes calamari and prawns.
Contact 021 788 1726, kalkys@mweb.co.za
Good to know You’ll need cash as there are no card machines.


Koeksisters Heritage Day

There’s a lot of confusion as to the difference between a koeksister and a koesister, as their names are so similar. They’re both doughnuts, they’re both delicious and they’re both very South African – but they’re not the same thing! Recognisable by its iconic twisted shape and crunchy, golden exterior, the sticky-sweet koeksister is a classic Afrikaans treat of Dutch origin that can be found in supermarkets and tuisnywerhede (home industries) alike.
The koesister, on the other hand, is native to the Mother City – specifically the Cape Malay community. Also covered in a sweet syrup, the koesister is spiced with cinnamon, aniseed, ginger, cardamom and covered in a sprinkling of coconut. Both are delicious, and the best way to end off any Heritage meal!
Where to taste them You can find koeksisters in most supermarkets and bakeries countrywide, but koesisters are not as readily available – but you’ll definitely find them at the Bo-Kaap Kombuis, and at Farieda’s Koeksisters on Landsdowne Road.
Contact Bo-Kaap Kombuis, 021 422 5446, nazli@bokaapkombuis.co.za
Farieda’s Koeksisters, 021 761 2779, delicacies@fariedas.co.za

Shisa nyama

Shisa Nyama Heritage Day

A gathering of community, some good food, and a beer in hand – a shisa nyama ticks all the boxes for a relaxed get-together with friends. Not confined to Cape Town, shisa nyama (burning meat in Zulu) is common practice throughout South Africa, with its origins in township communities as a way for local butchers to sell more meat – and for local residents to come together.
Decades later, the best shisa nyamas are those that focus on the communal experience, and not just the food.
Where to taste it Mzoli’s Place in Gugulethu has made a name for itself in local and international circles. The festive vibe and undeniably good food make it a great place to celebrate Heritage Day. Visitors can select their choice of meat from a selection of chicken, lamb, boerewors, beef and pork; and their choice of sides such as pap, steamed bread or traditional chakalaka. The meat (marinated in a delicious secret sauce) is then braaied for you and brought to your table once ready.
Contact 021 638 1355

Historic wine farms

Spier Wine Farm

SA Music News

Built in 1692, Spier Wine Farm is home to a wonderful winery, popular restaurants, picnic-perfect lawns and a four-star hotel. This Heritage Day visitors are invited to enjoy a range of offerings at this beautiful farm, perfect for a lazy day out with friends and family:

Heritage Picnic
Relax by the banks of the Eerste River while enjoying a picnic basket filled with local delights, including mosbolletjies with butter and jam, farm-baked bread, smoked snoek and corn samoosas, pickled fish and chicken with peri-peri mayonnaise, and Amarula fudge – with a bottle of estate wine.
Cost R695 for two people (includes a bottle of wine)
Book Now

Braai Buffet
Head to the Spier Hotel for a gourmet spread that includes Farmer Angus’s pasture-reared pork ribs and beef steaks, bacon and liver skilpadjies (lamb’s liver wrapped in caul fat), mushroom risotto, cheese-stuffed butternut, fresh seasonal salads, farm bread, decadent desserts, and much more.
Cost  R300 per person; R150 for children under 12

Smokehouse Feast
The popular Vadas Smokehouse and Bakery is serving a Heritage Day set menu overlooking the Werf lawns. Guests can expect biltong pâté and roosterkoek (a traditional South African bread baked over coals); smoked fish and chutney with vetkoek; and chicken samoosas to start; lamb and tomato bredie; beef-shin curry with creamy pap; and a three-bean salad for mains; and melktert and traditional fudge for dessert.
Cost R395 per person
Book Now

Seasonal Spring Pairing
Soak up the beautiful surrounds from the stoep of the historical Tasting Room, where you can enjoy an array of estate wines perfectly paired with a selection of canapés made from locally sourced ingredients (available until 30 November 2019).
Cost R120 per person

Contact 021 809 1100, info@spier.co.za
Where to find it Spier Wine Estate, R310, Stellenbosch, Western Cape

Lanzerac Wine Estate

Heritage Day Lanzerac Wine Estate

The third oldest farm in Stellenbosch, founded just 13 years after the town itself (more than 300 years ago), Lanzerac is steeped in heritage, where warm service, spectacular natural surrounds and a tranquil atmosphere will turn any occasion into a special one – and Heritage Day is no different.
Enjoy a welcome glass of MCC, before enjoying a journey of locally produced dishes prepared by the estate’s team of chefs. Wander between the Taphuis and outdoor terrace as you enjoy tapas-style fare, slow-roasted, gourmet-style pub plates, and smooth live tunes while the little ones enjoy their own food station.
Wine-lovers will revel in the outdoor wine lounge set up on the lawn, while a selection of crisp tipples are available at the artisanal pop-up gin bar.
Opening times 12pm – 4pm
Contact 021 887 1132, restaurants@lanzerac.co.za
Cost R650 per person (includes food, wine, and gin)
Where to find it Lanzerac Wine Estate, 1 Lanzerac Road, Stellenbosch, Western Cape
Book Now

Pierneef à La Motte

Pierneef a La Motte Heritage Day

Named after South African landscape artist, Jacob Hendrik Pierneef, this esteemed Franschhoek restaurant on the enchanting La Motte Wine Estate offers a similarly creative streak, as chef Eric Bulpitt (former head chef of Faber at Avondale), presents a vibrant array of dishes focused around seasonal ingredients and culinary trends.
This Heritage Day, guests can enjoy a delicious two-course lunch, beginning with a shared starter (with relishes and preserves from grandma’s pantry), followed by mains of sustainable West Coast fish, free-range pork shoulder, Karoo hunter’s pie, aged sirloin on the bone, or salt-baked celeriac. A selection of estate wines is also on offer, as is dessert at an extra cost.
Cost R335 per person (excludes wine and service fee)
Those looking for a lighter experience can enjoy the Winelands Cheese Platter or Seasonal Farm Plate paired with a glass of wine, before venturing on a mountainside hike or visiting the La Motte museum.
Cost R150 per person
Opening times 12pm – 3.30pm
Contact 021 876 8800, pierneef@la-motte.co.za
Where to find it La Motte Wine Estate, R45 Main Road, Franschhoek, Western Cape
Book Now

Groot Constantia

This estate, dating back to 1685, claims the title of “the oldest commercial wine-producing farm in South Africa”. In fact, the wine – called Constantia Wyn back in the day – was so popular across Europe that it was even mentioned in the works of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, and enjoyed by Napoleon, Frederick the Great of Prussia and French King Louis Phillipe!
Take a walk through this timeless estate, along the oak-lined walkways and experience the Visitors Route Experience, which runs throughout the year and includes self-guided tours, wine-tasting and access to the Manor House Museum and historic Cloete Cellar. In addition to a wine-tasting option, you can try their delectable chocolate-and-wine pairing. Or, enjoy the country’s oldest wine, Grand Constance, accompanied by a generous meal at one of the farm’s two restaurants: Jonkershuis and Simon’s. Jonkershuis, in particular, offers a menu that reflects the Malay influences of our heritage. Savour the traditional notes of mildly fruity flavours that characterise favourites such as Cape Malay curry and oven-baked bobotie.
Good to know Large groups are advised to book on Webtickets for all experiences.
Opening times Visitors Route Experience: Daily, 9am – 4pm
Jonkershuis: Monday – Saturday, 9am – 9pm; Sunday, 9am – 5pm (September – April)
Sunday – Thursday, 9am – 5pm; Friday – Saturday, 9am – 9pm (May – August)
Contact Groot Constantia: 021 794 5128, enquiries@grootconstantia.co.za
Jonkershuis: 021 794 6255
Simon’s Restaurant: 021 794 3445
Cost Visitors Route Experience: R105 (includes access to Manor House and Cloete Cellar, 5 wines and a souvenir Spiegelau Crystal glass)
Wine-tasting: R90 (includes 5 wines and a souvenir Spiegelau Crystal glass)
Chocolate-and-wine pairing: R140 (includes 5 selected wines, 5 handcrafted chocolates and a souvenir Spiegelau Crystal glass)
Where to find it Groot Constantia Road, Constantia, Cape Town
Book Now

Boschendal Heritage Day Farm Feast

Boschendal Heritage Day
Claire Gunn

Founded in 1685, Boschendal is South Africa’s second-oldest wine farm, and where  award-winning vintages have been produced for over 300 years. With its top-drawer restaurant, children’s Tree House, serene and spacious picnic area and magnificent setting, it’s no wonder this beloved estate appears on local and visitors’ bucket lists.
This Heritage Day, guests are invited to celebrate a slice of South African history at Boschendal’s Farm Feast, with multiple market-style food stalls, live music performances from the likes of Hot Water, and plenty of activities for the little ones. Enjoy your complimentary bottle of wine (included in the ticket price), while feasting on the best of South African cuisine.
Date 24 September
Time 12pm – 5pm
Food stalls: 1pm – 3pm
Contact reservations@boschendal.co.za, 021 870 4274
Cost R750 (adults, includes a bottle of wine)
R350 (children 0 – 10 years)
Where to find it The Werf Area, Boschendal, Pniel Road, Franschhoek Valley
Book Now

Museums + historical places

Slave Lodge

Slave Lodge Heritage Day

Part of commemorating our heritage involves acknowledging the painful aspects of it; the parts of our history we’d rather forget. One of Cape Town’s oldest buildings, the Slave Lodge was renamed in 1998 and, since then, its temporary exhibitions have been used to address and raise awareness around human rights.The lower storeys focus primarily on past slavery, whereas the upper galleries include older displays, such as ceramics from across the globe, silverware of Cape, Malaysian, Russian and English origins and Egyptology collections.
Interesting fact Over the past three centuries, the Slave Lodge has had several guises and names: Slave Lodge, Government Offices Building, Old Supreme Court and SA Cultural History Museum.
Opening times Monday – Saturday, 9am – 5pm
Contact 021 467 7229, info@iziko.org.za
Good to know Free entry for Heritage Week (23 – 29 September). Iziko Museums is hosting the in_herit FESTIVAL 2019, a dynamic, week-long cultural programme geared towards engendering respect for South Africa’s diverse heritage with a programme of exciting and engaging events, activities, workshops, talks, tours and exhibitions.
Cost R30 (adults); R15 (children 6 – 17 years); R5 (children 0 – 5 years); R15 (pensioners and students, free on Fridays); free on commemorative days
Where to find it Slave Lodge, Corner Adderley and Wale Streets, Cape Town

Bo-Kaap Museum

Bo Kaap Museum Heritage Day

Few areas of Cape Town better illustrate our diverse heritage than the Bo-Kaap district, where the cobbled streets are lined by brightly coloured houses that reflect the spirit of the community that lives here. This museum is situated in one of the district’s oldest homes (dating back to the mid-18th century), and showcases the rich cultural and religious traditions of the area, which became home to many freed slaves following the abolition of slavery in 1834, and a thriving Muslim community after the Batavian government granted freedom of religion to the Cape in 1804.
Interesting fact Bo-Kaap is home to South Africa’s oldest mosque, Auwal Mosque, which was built on the land of a freed slave named Coridon van Ceylon.
Opening times Monday – Saturday, 9am – 4pm (closed on Workers’ Day, Christmas Day, Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha and 2 January)
Contact 021 481 3938, info@iziko.org.za
Good to know Free entry for Heritage Week (23 – 29 September). Iziko Museums is hosting the in_herit FESTIVAL 2019, a dynamic, week-long cultural programme geared towards engendering respect for South Africa’s diverse heritage with a programme of exciting and engaging events, activities, workshops, talks, tours and exhibitions.
Cost R20 (adults); R10 (children 6 – 17 years); R5 (children 0 – 5 years); R10 (pensioners and students, free on Fridays); free on commemorative days
Where to find it Bo-Kaap Museum, 71 Wale Street, Bo-Kaap

District Six Museum

News 24

Heritage Day is a time to remember communities whose cultural development was cut short by the brutality of the aparteid regime. This museum, appropriately established in 1994 – the year of South Africa’s first free and fair election – uses past memories and experiences to remember a once-vibrant community’s painful forced removals (and demolitions) in the apartheid era. Its contribution to the struggle for land and subsequent process of healing and restoration has been so powerful, that it was declared a National Heritage Site in 2006.Learn more about the history of District Six, see artefacts and historical pieces, and possibly even share in the memories of former residents, too.
Don’t miss The D6 Homecoming Centre, located next to the Fugard Theatre, for temporary exhibitions.
Opening Times Monday – Saturday, 9am – 4pm
Contact 021 466 7200, info@districtsix.co.za
Cost R45 (adults, self-guided), R60 (adults, with an ex-resident/guide)
R5 (both guided and self-guided tours, SA and African learners, ages 7–17 years)
R15 (self-guided tour for local university students and international learners, ages 7–17 years)
R30 (guided tour for local university students and international learners, ages 7–17 years)
Free to ex-residents of District Six and other forced removal areas, and SA pensioners
Where to find it District Six Museum, 25A Buitenkant Street, Cape Town
Book Now

Norval Foundation

Art provides a powerful means for exploring a nation’s heritage; and at Norval Foundation, an array of exhibitions delve into the complicated history of the African continent as a whole. Situated in Cape Town’s lesser-trodden southern suburbs, away from the tourist-ridden CBD and V&A Waterfront, the quiet location gives the museum a contemplative feel, which – coupled with its exquisite setting in a view-drenched sculpture garden, with panoramas of mountains, fynbos and vineyards – certainly sets it apart. The feted museum is also home to Skotnes Restaurant – a decidedly civilised way to end (or start) an exhilarating outing to this world-class art gallery.
Opening Times Monday – Sunday, 10am – 6pm (closed on Tuesdays)
Contact 087 654 5900, info@norvalfoundation.org
Cost R180 (general admission); R160 (pensioners); R100 (students)
Where to find it Norval Foundation, 4 Steenberg Road, Tokai
Book Now

Prestwich Place Memorial and Gardens

Prestwich Memorial Heritage Day
Lucien le Grange Architects & Urban Planners

Established on the site where the remains of executed slaves were discovered in 2003, this memorial honours the memory of the many victims of slavery whose names may never be known, and whose stories may never be told. Research on the remains was not allowed, so who these people were, and whether or not they have living descendents, remains unknown.
The site includes an ossuary, where the exhumed remains are preserved; a memorial garden; and a collection of exhibitions commemorating the legacy of slavery and aparteid. It is intended not only as a place for visitors to pay their respects, but also as an educational and community development centre.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 7am –5pm
Contact 021 418 0073
Cost Free
Where to find it Prestwich Place Memorial, Corner Somerset and Buitengracht Streets, De Waterkant

Love museums? Check our pick of the Best Museums in Cape Town.

Celebrate the Cape year-round! Subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

Research by Hannah Littlewood, Matthew Flax, Kent Cloete, Bianca Hausle, Annabel Short

Add new comment


The Inside Guide has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, we do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, cost, time, and location.

Time of publication: 12 September 2019

2 Responses to “Heritage Day: Celebrating Cape Town’s History + Diversity”

  1. Avatar

    Sonya Smith

    What an awesome birthday gift this will be 😁

    • Avatar

      Melissa Ribeiro Da Silva

      Would love to win something have never before me and my husband 12 year wedding anniversary coming up would love to surprise him who doesn’t like surprises what a wonderful way to celebrate our heritage as well