The City of Saints is being draped in red, white and blue as it prepares to usher in thousands of people for the biggest event on its calendar.
The National Arts Festival (NAF), which runs from tomorrow to July 9, has received more than R3.6-million from the provincial department of sport, recreation, arts and culture.
This is the 43rd instalment of the annual event, billed as Africa’s biggest and boldest celebration of the arts, showcasing more than 700 shows.
This year comedy is particularly strong, with the biggest names in South African comedy performing alongside visiting talents such as UK comedians Stephen K Amos and Louise Reay.
Some of the South African comics featured in this year’s programme include Loyiso Madinga, Tats Nkonzo, Schalk Bezuidenhout, Loyiso Gola, Rob van Vuuren, Virgil Prins, KG and Mojak Lehoko.
NAF chief executive Tony Lankester said they were ready to entertain art lovers from all over the continent. “In times like these, the need to reflect, revitalise, engage and re-imagine is critical. It will all unfold at the festival this year.”
Last year, an audience survey showed 99% of festival-goers would recommend the experience to others.
“So take it from them, not me – it’s 11 days of amazing,” said Lankester.
Sport, recreation, arts and culture MEC Pemmy Majodina said she was looking forward to this year’s event.
“Our artists sing, they dance, they write and present words of wisdom and inspiration. They paint and create beautiful artifacts.
“They stimulate debate and encourage open conversations.
“And with each of these endeavours our society takes another step towards the freedom dreamt by iconic leaders.
“OR Tambo’s memory and legacy will be remembered at the festival as we reflect and talk and learn from him.
“The festival will also commemorate the centenary of the sinking of the SS Mendi.
“The memories of the soldiers lost in that tragedy will play out through exhibitions and performances at the festival,” said Majodina.
Jazz will also be celebrated with a sensational programme of South African greats collaborating with international legends.
Tickets for all the shows can be booked online at the NAF website: www.nationalartsfestival.co.za