Monday, 2 September 2013

Joburg City Festival 2013

(Click on photos to view gallery)

The JCTA is a voluntary organisation representing businesses and organisations who have a stake in tourism in downtown Joburg. The organisation aims to promote the many attractions of the Joburg inner-city to residents and visitors, who still don't quite get what newbies in town like me are already so excited about. To get the ball moving, in the last week of August the JCTA organised the first ever Joburg City Festival. It was a week full of special events and parties, walking tours, concerts and exhibits, street football and ballet, poetry, fashion, cookery lessons and much more.

The JCTA headquarters are in the random turret building on the right of this picture

I certainly didn't get to as many of the events as I wanted to, but what I did do was discover a lot more about the inner-city and its different areas. After all this exploration of the CBD's various 'hoods I am starting to feel like quite the confident downtown Joburger...even if I am really just an expat who lives in the Northern Suburbs.

The Fashion District

One of the coolest venues during the week was the Fashion Kapitol which is located deep in the 26 block expanse of the 'fashion district'. The Fashion Kapitol is an initiative by a local fashion institute to inject new life into this historic fabrics and clothing area. They have an open-air runway where they stage fashion shows, retail space for cool little boutiques and a nice cafe called The Fashion Shack located inside one of the oldest surviving buildings in the area.

There were lots of tuk tuks about to take festival goers to the different venues

I kept turning up here intent on catching one of the fashion shows which had names like Freaky Friday, Trendy Thursday and Magical Monday, but somehow I kept missing them. Even though I never saw one of the big fashion events, I did still get to pretend I was The Satorialist wandering around and assessing the local style. Personally I think it's not always what people here are wearing, more how they are wearing it - Joburgers have real poise and tons of attitude, they can make a lot of getups look very sharp and cool. I love the colours of the shops around this area too. 

Kerk Street Market

The Kerk Street Market is one of my favourite markets in the CBD. It has great fruit and veggies, as well as the usual football shirts, trainers, gadgets etc. There are many more hectic markets in the city, yet somehow Kerk Street manages to remain simultaneously calm but also full of life. Apparently the hair braiders at the Kerk Street Market are some of the best on the whole continent. They don't have fancy salons, just chairs on the street and they are never short of custom.

On the last day of the festival in Kerk Street there was an event called 'Claim Your City'. A sound system was set-up and local musicians played throughout the day. I dropped by and caught a male soul group giving it everything - they were brilliant.

Gandhi Square Street Football

On Gandhi Square, the transport hub for those using the Metro Bus, there was a 'street football' championship going on all week. Street Football here meant five-a-side and the teams were impressively well organised and played really high standard football. The eventual winners were the Penthouse Scorpions who quite simply outclassed everyone else. They won a new matching team kit and kit bags, as well as 5,000 Rand - not bad for a bit of street footie!

Braamfontein and Critical Mass

Braamfontein is one of the most fashionable parts of downtown Joburg. Full of students there's no shortage of creative ideas, pumping bars and cool coffee shops. I spent quite a lot of the week here, sipping my way through a list of the area's top cafes (more on that later), making my first trip out to the fascinating Constitution Hill and enjoying my first meet up with the fun crowd known as the Jozi Bloggers (also more on that later).

I sadly did not take part (this time) in the mass cycling event Critical Mass which left from Braamfontein on Friday night to zoom around the city centre. I did however hover around and do that blogger thing of taking pictures of the dudes while they were preparing to leave. There were all kinds of people at this event, hipsters, old folks, serious cyclists, young kids, yuppies, students, bloggers (probably)'s pretty cool how the love of travelling on two wheels unites different folks and I think the whole Critical Mass ethos really matches well with the mission of the Joburg City Festival. Really looking forward to the next edition.

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