The ‘forever young’ town of Stellenbosch is donning all its bells and whistles to offer locals and holidaymakers alike a festooned line up of indulgences and experiences during this Festive Season.
From now until the end of December, Stellenbosch – all decked out with an array of happenings in and around its oak-lined streets and prized vineyards – is the place to get your end-of-year groove on and take some timeout with your friends and family.
From Christmas shopping under the stars to laidback live music shows and open garden strolls to catch your breath amidst the frenzy, the Stellenbosch Wine Routes and the town’s Stellenbosch 360 tourism outfit have conjured up a jolly wish list of seasonal pleasures to revel in as part of their annual Stellenbosch Experience programme.
October highlights include the start of Dornier Estate’s Summer Season at its popular Bodega Restaurant which includes their 6th annual Asparagus Festival. Enthusiasts can join Chef Daniel George as his celebrates this delicately flavoured aphrodisiac through various culinary creations such as his fresh white and green asparagus Flammkuchen with exotic mushrooms paired with your favourite Dornier wine. Or spruce up your palate with vibrant taste sensations on their new Summer Menu. His Goat’s Cheese Kataffi Balls guarantee to be a crowd pleaser all season long (www.dornier.co.za).
November caters for sensory outings to perk the mood after a long year’s slog, such as the launch of the arresting Art – (de)code – (re)phrase Exhibition at D-Street Gallery in Dorp Street on the 15th, featuring works by renowned local artists (www.dstreetgallery.com). Or why not revive your inner green spirit at the colourful Acara Open Gardens on 15 and 16 November, while you tuck into cheese and wine platters at these tranquil guest cottages (www.acara.co.za). This month also marks the start of Stellenbosch’s monthly Street Soirees and remember to diarise Kamers Vol Geskenke, a treasure trove of handcrafted creativity, which takes place at Webersburg from 4-9 November (www.kamersvol.com).
Those dreaming of a white Christmas can make a beeline for the Slow Market’s Christmas Night & Day Market at Oude Libertas on 28 (night), 29 (day) and 30 November (day) – the perfect hotspot for loads of crafty presents and local designs and a real foodie paradise with wine and craft beer tastings to add to the merriment. All white styled with snowflake orgami, lanterns and Christmas lights, this market is your ticket to stock up on all the Christmas trimmings and treats as you browse through nearly 140 stall exhibitors selling a variety of unique handmade goodies in the company of large oak trees (www.slowmarket.co.za).
December brings on the festive cheer with a smorgasbord of Yuletide celebrations unique to the City of Oaks. The month kicks off with the spellbinding Spier Festival of White Lights on 5 December. This evening is a performance arts procession across the farm, winding through heritage Cape Dutch monuments and led by Spier’s Angel of Light on stilts.
It also includes a dazzling display of lights, ranging from fire dancers, sculptures, lanterns and artistic performances and end with a complimentary glass of wine and relaxed tunes at the Spier Hotel (www.spier.co.za). More light will be shed at Stellenbosch’s annual Festival of Street Lights hosted by the municipality on 7 and 8 December. Bring the kids and be there when the mayor switches on the Christmas lights and pack a picnic and come sing along to your favourite songs during Carols by Candlelight on the opening night.
The 7th of December also marks the start of Jordan Estate’s monthly Sunday Evening Concerts which cater for al fresco gatherings under starry skies until April. Resident Chef George Jardine tantalises with a superb array of mini food stations and tickets cost R350 per person, which include the food and the show. They also have a very special African Christmas Concert in store (www.jordanwines.com).
If live music is your thing to shake off the end-of-year stress then Muratie has just the remedy for you (and your work colleagues!) to let your hair down away from the manic office. Music line-ups that will impress even the Boss include the sultry Luna Paige on 13 December and famous alternative rock artist Jesse Clegg on 28 December (www.muratie.co.za).
On 14 December Father Christmas will once again be making his appearance on his tractor at Middelvlei Wine Estate’s annual Sunset Carols. As the sun sets over the Middelvlei dam guests will be singing carols while their famous Boerebraai is served and Father Christmas delivers the presents. This year’s Sunset Carols event, which costs R175 for Adults and R60 for children, will be in benefit of Stellenbosch Youth Outreach (www.middelvlei.co.za).
No Festive Season is complete without good food and wine and Stellenbosch restaurants and hotels will once again be pulling out all the stops to showcase why this famous tourist destination is also celebrated as South Africa’s Gourmet and Wine Capital.
Sumptuous Christmas Menus worth swopping the homecooked roast for include the one by the famous 96 Winery Road Restaurant, which will served for dinner on the 24th and for lunch on the 25th at R475 per person (www.96wineryroad.co.za).
The Lanzerac Hotel & Spa will also be pushing all the right taste buttons with their gourmet three course Christmas Day Lunch, served up in their elegant Governors Hall Restaurant or on the Terrace at R528 per adult and R265 per child under 11 years of age. Or why not end 2014 on a gastronomic high and join them for their lavish New Year’s Eve Dinner at R950 per adult which include bubbly and a special gift on the evening (www.lanzerac.co.za).
The Festive Season is synonymous with day trip adventures to new and unexplored places and while Stellenbosch is a one of a kind destination worth much more than just a day trip or a wine tasting it is also the perfect base from where to explore surrounding regions like Cape Town or the spectacular coast-line, all within an easy 30 – 45 minutes drive. Check out Zee’s Cape Tours Festive Season specials and spoil the in-laws and overseas guests with genuine Stellenbosch hospitality this holiday (www.zeescapetours.co.za).
With Stellenbosch on your radar, no one needs to suffer from festive season FOMO (fear of missing out) so for more on what is on offer in and around this quaint town contact Stellenbosch 360 at Tel: 021 883 3584 or swing by at their information centre at 36 Market Street. Also visit www.wineroute.co.za and follow blog.wineroute.co.za for the latest festive happenings.