Grahamstown, more recently known as Makhanda, is known for its arts and culture as well as, in particular, its religious architecture. It’s a small, university town of around 140,000 people and it’s situated in the Eastern Cape between Port Elizabeth and East London. This small town, home to Rhodes university, is filled to the brim with galleries, bars, restaurants and other fun activities to keep the keen traveler entertained. Here is our list of the top 3 things to do in Grahamstown.
The Yearly National Arts Festival
Every year arts and culture lovers flock to the town of Grahamstown to support the National Arts Festival. The town comes alive from the last week of June to the first week of July every year for 11 days. The streets are lined with stalls and vendors, there are constant music shows and galleries pop up everywhere. If you are planning on visiting Grahamstown, this is definitely the time to do it. The festival is the largest arts festival in Africa and it is also one of the most popular arts festivals in the entire world.
You can expect to experience incredible theatre, dance, stand-up comedy, live music, visual art, films, talks, workshops, and much more. The food and craft markets are also not to be missed. The festival is a massive economic boost for both Grahamstown and the artists involved, so be sure to stop by and experience of 60 venues of the most wonderful art that South Africa has to offer.
The Cathedral of St Michael and St George
As we mentioned earlier, Grahamstown is known for its religious architecture. So, if you are looking for things to do in Grahamstown, visiting the Cathedral of St Michael and St George should definitely be on that list. The Cathedral is located in Church Square at the intersection of High Street and Hill Street and boasts the tallest spire in South Africa. It is a magnificent site to see as the spire is more than 53 meters high. The church was originally founded in 1824 and completed in 1952. The interior, as well as the exterior, of the church, are artworks of their own and warrant more than a few minutes of admiration.
The stained-glass windows of the Cathedral are priceless and the bells are the first to be installed in South Africa (1879), so the church is definitely worth a visit. If you are planning a visit to the Cathedral, it is open to visitors from 9 am to 3 pm, Monday to Friday and 9 am to 12 noon on Saturdays.
The Settlers National Monument
Erected in 1820, the Settlers National Monument sits proudly on top of a hill in Grahamstown. You’ll find the large square structure on your way to Rhodes university. The monument was burned down in 1994 and then rebuilt. The memorial was built to honour the English Settlers that contributed to developing the country many years ago. It also works hand in hand with the National Arts Festival. Since it was built in 1974, the festival has been held in Grahamstown every yar, except 1975 and the monument is the main venue of the festival. Every visitor to Grahamstown must see this beautiful monument.