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Grahamstown attractions PDF Print E-mail

CULTURE: A special deal for the National Arts Festival, ahead of the WJEC!

Interested in wildlife? We recommend Kariega game reserve, sponsor of the prize for the best WJEC paper. Their rates are around $285 or 225 per day, all inclusive, and they are just 30 minutes from Grahamstown. Book your travel so you have a few days either side of Congress to soak up some of the wonderful tourism opportunities in Grahamstown and surrounds.


Ambience: Grahamstown (population circa 110 000) is small in size, and pleasant for strollers or joggers.  It is safe in terms of personal security, and its region as a whole is also malaria-free.


Weather: Temperatures in July (winter) are average high: 19°C (66°F); average low: 7°C (45°F).

Town history - a microcosm of South African history and future

National Arts Festival - soak up some African culture

Safari experience - wildlife on the doorstep

Beaches and sea - waves of relaxation


The largest annual Arts Festival in Africa takes place over the fortnight before WJEC, ending on Sunday 4 July.

We encourage delegates to come a few days earlier, and soak up some of the amazing culture on offer. Especially if you are coming from far, it is not an occasion to be missed.

We've also secured a special deal for WJEC delegates:

  • Discounted tickets on many shows
  • Two free tickets to the Think!Fest programme
  • A hopper pass to get around the festival events.

AND: VIP booking treatment. If you're interested This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it who is there to service WJEC delegates.

If you are planning on coming earlier, and you're This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it be sure to advise them of your needs.


Town history

Grahamstown, also known as iRhini, is also of interest for its historical character. These include many Victorian-era buildings, as well as the Cathedral where construction began in 1824.

South Africa’s second oldest museum can be found at the Albany Museum Complex, which was established in 1855. The Natural Science Museum, the History Museum the Observatory Museum, and the National English Literary Museum make up the whole complex.

Rhodes University is also home to the International Library of African Music (ILAM) which houses a collection of more than 200 playable traditional African musical instruments. The University also houses the Cory Library of Historical Research, and the Institute for the Study of English in Africa.

Perched on the hills surrounding the city is the 1820 Settlers National Monument, a large venue that hosts a range of cultural activity and artwork. In the valley below, is the moving Egazini memorial to the lives lost on the spot during the 1819 Battle of Grahamstown.

While the settlement is generally modern in terms of architecture, tarred roads, etc., some local residents construct mud-brick dwellings. Traditional healers can be seen strolling down the main street with white-clay on their faces, and the sight of young men in tweed coats and caps, fresh from circumcision school, is also common.

Unlike most South African spatial geography, Grahamstown's history of racial segregation has comprised contiguous areas (rather than zones separated by scores of kilometres). This is because of successful resistance in the city to attempts by the apartheid authorities to resettle black residents far out of town. While suburbia is nowadays increasingly integrated, the townships remain black.

During WJEC, delegates will have an opportunity to see the whole of Grahamstown through local tour-guide services. Two evenings will also offer Spectator Park experiences at the Miki Yili stadium in the township, where huge screens will project Fifa games to enthusiastic crowds.

The city is in one of the most diverse ecological regions in South Africa, with a variety of biomes as well as spectacular scenery. Fossils, stone tools and rock-art are widespread. Nature and game conservation is strong in the area and it is becoming a popular destination for excellent game viewing including the 'Big Five'.


National Arts Festival

Grahamstown is famous for the biggest full-spectrum annual Arts and Culture festival in Africa. In 2010, the dates are: 20th June - 4th July. There is a SPECIAL DEAL FOR WJEC DELEGATES!

Held annually for almost three decades, this world famous event serves to transform Grahamstown into a hub for creative talent from across South Africa and other parts of the continent. In 2009, the festival offered more than 300 productions on the main programme, and five times the amount on the fringe, covering opera, cabaret, drama and music to standup comics and street theatre.

Its specialist sections include a major jazz festival, a “words” festival, children’s festival, and a Think Festival (a ‘Winter School’).

Visual art includes multimedia installations, graphic design, textile art, ceramics, sculpture, photography, oils, watercolours, charcoal, glass work, beads and carvings.

The festival website provides a detailed booking kit closer to the occasion. Be assured that there is a cornucopia of offerings at any given time. Students and staff of Rhodes University's School of Journalism and Media Studies provides saturation coverage of this amazing event, through a series of platforms under the brand-name of Cue. For a taste of the festival, check the Cue site, and the links to all the associated sites on it.

Safari experiences

Grahamstown is situated within close proximity of numerous game reserves, all of which are malaria-free and most of which offer the “Big Five”.

Kariega game reserve, is the sponsor of the prize for the best WJEC paper. Their rates are around $285 or 225 per day, all inclusive, and this wonderful park is just 30 minutes from Grahamstown.

Other options are:

Addo Elephant Park - (self-drive) $129 per night excl game drive. You are guaranteed to see... elephants (plus kudu and warthog). But there are also lions, hyenas, buffalo, etc... (90 minutes from Grahamstown, likewise 90 minutes from Port Elizabeth).

Amakhala – $285 or 225 per day (all meals, buffet lunch, 3 course dinner, accommodation, select drinks, 2 game drives). (45 minutes from Grahamstown, 45 from Port Elizabeth)

Kwantu – an alcohol-free environment, offering a 3-hour game drive, and over 250 bird species. (40 minutes from Grahamstown)

Lalibela – $315 or 250 per day

(rates include accommodation, 2 game drives, all meals and all drinks at your lodge and on game drives). (30 minutes from Grahamstown)

Kwandwe – $335 or 263 per day (rates include accommodation, game drives, select meals and drinks at lodge and on game drives) (30 minutes from Grahamstown)

Pumba - $335 or 263 per day  (15 minutes from Grahamstown)

Shamwari - see site for rates. This Big Five reserve has received numerous international awards, including the World’s Leading Conservation Company and Game Reserve. (60 minutes from Grahamstown, or Port Elizabeth)


Kichaka Lodge - see site for rates at this Big Five up-market reserve. (20 minutes from Grahamstown)

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Beaches and sea

Grahamstown is 45 minutes drive from the attractive coastal towns of Kenton-on-Sea and Port Alfred, each of which boasts vast unspoilt beaches. You can walk for hours on the sands, hire horses or enjoy good meals in places with wonderful views.