It’s the one day in the year – 31 December – when everybody let’s their hair down as we count down the minutes to usher in the New Year…. At the stroke of midnight, champagne corks pop, strangers hug and kiss each other, shouts of ‘happy new year’ fill the air, canons go off, sirens wail, fireworks light up the skies, cars and ships sound their hooters, and bands strike up with Auld Lang Syne.
Some of us prefer to celebrate it more sedately with family or close friends; others pay lots of money to attend one of the big private parties; but most flock to public spaces where huge crowds gather – think of London’s Piccadilly Square, Sydney’s Harbour Bridge, or New York’s Time Square.
In South Africa the major public celebratory gatherings take place at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront, Durban’s Marine Parade and Johannesburg’s central downtown area. But there’s much happening elsewhere too, especially in the coastal towns and resorts.
Below we provide a guide to some of this year’s New Year’s Eve gatherings around the country – most of them free of charge in public spaces. Unless stated otherwise, all listed events take place on the night of Tuesday 31 December 2019 into Wednesday 1 January 2020.
Cape Town: V&A Waterfront New Year’s Eve Celebration
Billed as the biggest New Year’s Eve party in South Africa, this is an annual tradition with a spectacular fireworks display. Entry is free to all areas of the V&A Waterfront, except for those Waterfront establishments that will be hosting their own parties, such as restaurants. A good event for the whole family.
Cape Town: Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts – New Year’s Eve Concert
This forms part of the annual Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts series. An open-air setting in the beautiful Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, with a mountain backdrop. An entrance fee is charged. Bring you rugs and picnic basket and come early to find a good spot on the sloping lawns close to the stage.
Cape Town: Table View Beachfront
Although Cape Town’s municipality has announced they are not allocating any designated areas of the city this year for public fireworks displays, the beachfront of Table View is still a good spot from where you can watch the V&A Waterfront’s fireworks display across the bay.
Cape Town: Camps Bay
Camps Bay beach offers families a quieter New Year’s Eve experience. Bring blankets, candles and picnic baskets. While the beach is a nice quiet spot, the beachfront area lining the road with its many bars and restaurants draws a bigger, noisier crowd.
Cape Town: Table Mountain & Signal Hill
The last cable car comes down at 9.30pm, so waiting for the New Year on top of the mountain is a no-no. But there are many good vantage points where you can park along Tafelberg Road (after the lower cable station) and along Signal Hill Road. From here you will have a spectacular bird’s-eye view of the city lights below and the fireworks display in the V&A Waterfront. Take a picnic basket and blankets along. But don’t park alone in any isolated spots – stay with the crowds.
Cape Town: Long Street & De Waterkant
Upper Long Street and the Waterkant area at the beginning of Green Point are the two epicentres of the city’s clubbing, bars and entertainment scene. These two areas get extra crowded and busy on New Year’s Eve with their many establishments filled to capacity with revellers. In Long Street the revellers line the first-floor balconies to watch the street action below. When midnight approaches, both of these areas are brought to a complete standstill by crowds and it becomes a massive street party. A note of caution though: in Long Street one has to be wary of pickpockets and other bad elements.
Paarl: Nederburg Wine Estate
Traditionally the New Year’s Eve concert on this historic and famous wine estate starts at 9.30pm with laidback classics being played in a relaxed atmosphere far from the crowds. Ideal for bringing your picnic basket and the whole family. The estate offers a range of some of the best wines.
Franschhoek: Winelands celebrations
Many of the restaurants lining the main street of Franschhoek, as well as the surrounding wine estates, lay on superb New Year’s Eve events, which turns the entire village and valley into one big celebration. Special outdoor music and dance events also take place here.
Gardens, Cape Town: Alcazar New Year’s Party
Billed as the premium inner-city New Year’s Eve Party. The party hosted at Alcazar will showcase 12 hours of music by the best of electronic dj’s. There will also be Cirque-style performance art by Olympic gymnasts and fire dancers across three distinctly decked-out stages, with VIP options. Price: R390–R690.
Cape Town Central: Sotano’s island style party
You can dress up island-style for the party at Sotano’s on Bree Street, the cool inner-city venue. The evening kicks off with a welcome cocktail and canapés, followed by dancing to the tunes of DJ David Sandler (deep tech, deep house) right up until the year turns 2020 and beyond. Limited tables of six are available for booking for R3,500, which includes a bottle of Tanqueray and Fitch & Leedes mixers at Sotano on Bree. Price: R450.
Stellenbosch Wine Route: Kiff Kombi Bilton and Wine Tour
Do the pre-New Year’s Eve party wine, beer and biltong safari with Kiff Kombi Tours taking you to two craft breweries and two wine farms, each visit complete with tastings including wine and biltong pairing. Enjoy a South African braai. All of this along the Stellenbosch wine route with Kiff Kombi Tours. Then leave to go and party into the early hours of the next year. Price: R950
Constantia, Cape Town: Family-friendly Constantia Valley dance party
Bring your own picnic basket and get cozy and comfortable at The Range, Orpen Road, Tokai – a unique venue in the Constantia Valley countryside. Dance to classics and old favourites as The Professors perform covers. Drinks are available at the fully stocked bar and there are activities for children under the age of 12, such as arts and crafts and a jumping castle. Price: R65–R275
Clifton, Cape Town: Tigger 2 Boat Cruises
See the last sunset of 2019 as you cruise out of Cape Town harbour towards Clifton on a 55-foot catamaran and see the New Year’s fireworks show from the deck. There are two options: the earlier departure allows you to watch the sunset and, on returning to the harbour, have dinner of sushi, oysters, Wagyu beef, and canapés, after which you disembark and watch the midnight fireworks at the V&A; or alternatively, board at 10pm, dine at the mooring, then sail off for the midnight fireworks show to be watched from the sea. Price: R1160–R2460.
Cape Point: Vineyards Party
This is a high-class affair with champagne and oysters that you can dress up for! Held in the Cape Point Vineyards with DJ Rene The Frenchman and Kiriya on saxophone on the spacious deck. There’ll be bubbly on arrival, snacks from 7pm to 9pm, a range of things to nibble on and much more. Price: R350 to R750.
Shimmy, Waterfront: Blue Marlin Party
Shimmy Beach Club will be hosting Ibiza’s sexy Blue Marlin party concept that includes day-to-night dining, beach, sunbathing, music and dancing, all in one place at a sea-front venue. There’ll be incredible dancers and live performances by Gore Performance (Spain) and a line-up of top local and international DJs such as Camilo Franco (Ibiza), Andy Baxter (Ibiza/UK), Nadja DJ (Ibiza) and Dean Fuel (RSA) at Shimmy Beach Club. Price: R750 – R1850 (VIP grants you access via a separate entrance to the VIP lounge area, with VIP toilets, waiter service and unreserved seating).
Nieu-Bethesda: New Year’s Eve Festival of Lights
This inland town north of Graaf-Reinet, famous for its Owl House that draws visitors from around the world, each New Year’s Eve stages the Festival of Lights and lantern parade. It is a wonderful community event across cultural and religious barriers in a joyous celebration organised by the Bethesda Arts Centre.
It begins with a performance in the Centres Courtyard Theatre.
Port Alfred: Ndlambe Music Festival
The Ndlambe Music Festival is a popular annual New Year’s Eve event that takes place in Port Alfred.
Port Elizabeth: Shark Rock Pier
The beachfront area is where it’s all happening – Humewood, Summerstrand, Hobie Beach and especially the area around Shark Rock Pier opposite the Boardwalk casino complex. Usually a fireworks display is part of the fun.
East London: Beachfront
While no information was available about any formally planned celebratory gatherings for 31 December, crowds of differing sizes are normally drawn to the city’s many beach areas: the area around Orient Beach, the Esplanade, Quigney Beach and Beacon Bay, as well as further out of the city at Nahoon Beach and Nahoon River mouth.
Wild Coast: Coffee Bay NYE Party
Tranquillity usually marks the green hills of the Transkei and the pristine coastline of the Wild Coast. But for one day of the year on New Year’s Eve the annual New Year’s Bash at the Sugarloaf Backpackers Lodge brings the entire area around Coffee Bay alive.
Durban: Fact Durban Rocks #Fact18, People’s Park, Moses Mabhida Stadium
Come and celebrate at Fact Durban Rocks number 18 with the biggest line-up of SA’s best artists and the coolest #FactFans from around South Africa. Not only will you be experiencing the very best in SA Hip Hop, Gqom and Afro House, but there will also be new talent from their #FactShine Competition Winners.
Fact Tickets are for from Webtickets and Pick N Pay Stores.
Durban: Marine Parade
Traditionally the entire beachfront area along Marine Parade teems with revellers on New Year’s Eve. It is also the scene of the following day’s big come-down and ocean splash when tens of thousands of people pack the beaches after the partying of the night before. From here you will also have a good view of any fireworks displays that may take place on New Year’s Eve in the city, while the restaurants, clubs and hotels in this area all lay on their own parties.
Ballito: North Coast street party
South Africa’s most famous street party, Ballito NYE is back! For years party people have been flocking in their thousands to the bustling coastal town of Ballito to celebrate their way into a brand-new year. Believe it or not, this little tradition is a very big 16 years old this year! The New Year’s Eve Ballito Street Party has been hailed as the most famous street party in South Africa. With several dance floors and international DJs, the party has become a big hit and by 8pm on the 31st there’s no more space for a mouse.
Soweto: Theatre in Colours Countdown Party
The Soweto Theatre, in partnership with Jozi FM, brings you Soweto in Colours Countdown to 2020, with 2 Stages, 20 DJs, fireworks display and Jozi FM Live Broadcast. Limited cooler boxes will be allowed at R100 per cooler box. No sales at the door. No under 18’s. More info at: https://www.sowetotheatre.com
Johannesburg: Constitution Hill with AfroPunk
Constitution Hill is famous for its history, and doubles as a venue for massive parties! This New Year’s AfroPunk will take the stage to share cultural hits and mixes from famous local and international artists. AfroPunk is renowned for its multiculturalism, bringing together artists and fans of all races, genders, creeds, and backgrounds. It’s set to be a banging party. Tickets are sure to sell out fast, so get in there and book while you can!
Johannesburg: MOYO, Zoo Lake
Take the hop-on-hop-off Red Bus to get to Zoo Lake Park! Once there, MOYO cafe in the Zoo Lake Park will not only offer fabulous cuisine, but also a picturesque atmosphere and great live music as well. Sit amongst twinkling lights hanging from the trees and sit back to enjoy the music and great African styled food. On New Year’s they are offering a buffet and set menu. The venue is open from 8:00 AM till late on the day, and tickets go for R275 per person for the set meals and R295 for the New Year’s dinner buffet.
Johannesburg: 2 Storey Party on the Hill
A short walk from Zoo Lake, partygoers will have a night to remember at the The Westcliff. Two DJs will be performing for the night, including DJ Abby Nurock, famous for her classic technics and vinyl records. VIP Seating and bottle arrangements are available for those looking for an exclusive experience. Tickets are R995 per person. You can reserve a table by emailing Natalie.email@example.com.
Johannesburg: Joburg City Party
Make your way to Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown – downtown Johannesburg – where you can join fifty thousand of people from midday on 31 December as they wait for midnight and the city’s biggest fireworks display. Food stalls and live music will take care of all your needs. Surrounding roads are closed off to traffic and no alcohol is allowed. Entrance is free.
Pretoria: Time Square Casino’s Block Party
Time Square in Pretoria last year staged one of the biggest New Year’s Eve parties the city has ever seen, with no less than 13 local and international DJs that kept people dancing for 15 hours straight.
The party was designed to emulate one of the world’s biggest New Year’s parties at Time Square, New York. The Sun Arena, where it was held, is the first venue of its kind in Pretoria and also the largest purpose-built indoor seated arena in South Africa holding up to 8,500 guests.
Johannesburg: Back to the Future at Randlords
One of memorable NYE parties in Johannesburg is Back to the Future at Randlords. Guests can watch the last sunset of 2019 with spectacular views of Joburg City while sipping on cocktails at the Randlords Rooftop Bar and Lounge. Clive, Bobstar Deluxe, Tommy D, Selektaa and Ricardo da Costa are some of the DJs that will play the soundtracks to fuel the mood. Late night snacks including chicken pregos, veggie wraps and beef burgers will be available for those who are still peckish.