While Knysna already offers so many wonderful things to do in this little slice of Garden Route heaven, the town is also home to an array of exciting, fun and informative events and festivals.
To help you plan your Garden Route trip, we’ve lined up some of the most exciting festivals to look forward to in Knysna. And, should you need accommodation, you already know that he stunning Pezula Hotel is the best place to rest and rejuvenate in Knysna!
Knysna Literary Festival
The Knysna Literary Festival is a treat for any literature fan. Hosting an exclusive group of hand-picked South African authors, the Knysna Literary Festival showcases several in-depth discussions and informal chats with authors about a variety of topics.
Going in to its 10th year in 2019, the #KnysnaLitFest has attracted an array of well-known literary celebrities in the past, and will certainly continue to do so as the festival grows from strength to strength.
The inaugural Knysna Literary Fest took place in 2010, and since then it has branched out into several different avenues and has inspired a love of literature in local scholars. During the festival, writing competitions are held for local scholars which encourages them to continue their love of reading and writing.
The Knysna Literary Festival takes place annually in early March, and will take place from the 8th to the 10th of March 2019.
Knysna Oyster Festival
Considered as one of the most famous and exciting festivals in Knysna, the annual Knysna Oyster Festival is an adventure for big and small.
The festival offers a host of wonderful activities for everyone: from Oyster fiends to fitness fanatics and fabulous foodies. It’s also a family friendly festival, meaning that there are fun activities for the kids as well the adults.
The festival takes place in the heart of winter, between the end of June and the start of July and typically runs for a full, 10 days.
It has also been revered as one of South Africa’s favourite sport and lifestyle festivals, and it’s easy to see why with all the activities on offer. Music, food and other forms of entertainment, combines with gruelling and fun sports activities like the famous Momentum Big5 Challenge, where participants participate in 5 different sporting events over the course of 10 days.
And, naturally, several Oyster hotspots open up during the festival for people to indulge in!
Leisure Isle Festival
The Leisure Isle Festival in Knysna is a local craft market, held on a big scale every year. Typically taking place at the start of November, the objective of the festival is to shine a spotlight on local crafters and artists and offer them a place to showcase their stunning arts and crafts.
The festival also aims to provide financial support to a handful of selected, local charities and build community spirit within Knysna.
Situated in a picturesque surrounding, the festival is the perfect place to leisurely stroll through stalls, relax on the open fields or under the trees and refresh at the beer garden or tea garden. There is also a dedicated food section, offering visitors a wide variety of foods to indulge in.
Perfect for kids and adults alike, the festival has fun activities for the younger ones, including jumping castles and a treasure hunt.
Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival
Widely regarded as the premier LGBTQ+ festival in South Africa, the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival has been a highlight in the social calendar of Knysna for the past 17 years.
The aim of the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival is to assist the LGBTQ+ community not only in the Garden Route, but the whole of South Africa and abroad. Several events and campaigns aimed at raising awareness for the LGBTQ+ community and the issues they face are held and showcased at the festival.
These events include musical performances by some of the best in South African talent, dining specials and other exciting events.
The highlight of the festival is, of course, the Mardi Gras-style parade through the streets of Knysna, where members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community dress up in colourful costumes and parade and dance through the streets of the town.
In 2018, the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival also played host to the Mr. Gay World pageant and was a roaring success. The festival takes place between April and May, and is surely one not to be missed!
Seven Passes MTB Event
The Seven Passes Mountain Biking Event is a favourite for local MTB fanatics.
The event takes riders on the famous ‘Seven Passes’ route from George to Knysna. The route is stunningly gorgeous, yet quite tough. It takes riders through 79 kilometers of lush indigenous forest and 7 gorges.
Organised by Garden Route Events, the route has been described as one of the best mountain biking routes in the whole of South Africa, and looking at the route and it’s stunning scenery, it’s easy to see why.
Typically taking place in the Spring in September, the Seven Passes MTB Event is a must for any mountain biking enthusiasts.
Plett Food and Film Festival
Launched in 2014, the Plett Food and Film Festival perfectly combines two things that everybody loves: food and films.
Taking place between June and July, the festival aims to celebrate delicious, local cuisine and local, South African films. Chefs from all over the country come and showcase their daring dishes; from traditional Cape Malay dishes to new, striking food combinations. There is certainly sure to be something for every palette.
The festival also offers exceptional food and wine pairings from local wine estates.
While the festival mostly focuses on showing local films, they also show old, classic films in the vein of ‘Casablanca’ as well as indie, art films.
Taking place in neighbouring Plettenberg Bay, a mere 20 minute drive from Knysna, the Plett Food and Film Festival is a must!
Rastafari Earth Festival
Taking place annually at the end of July, the Rastafari Earth Festival is held in honour of the birthday of Rastafarians’ spiritual messiah, His Majesty Haile Selassie.
The 10-day festival is a celebration of all things Rastafarian and includes 7 days of ‘Nyabingh’ – which are Rastafari church services – and 3 days of musical celebration. The festival concludes in Emancipation Day, which celebrates the abolition of slavery.
Knysna is home to the largest Rastafarian community in South Africa, and the festival showcases several joyous, musical acts as well as poetry readings and storytelling sessions by the local community.
The entire festival is dedicated to community upliftment and joyous celebration, so it is definitely one to look out for.
Knysna Motor Show
For petrolheads and antique car fans alike, the annual Knysna Motor Show is an event not to be missed.
Taking place at the end of April, the Knysna Motor Show plays host to over 400 collectible cars and motorcycles. These beauties are all showcased on the grounds of the local high school for all to see and truly is a feast for the eyes.
Motor vehicles showcased at the event include vintage and veteran cars, modern classics and sports classics and collectible motorcycles – all in both on and off road guise.
The Knysna Motor Show is the perfect day out for the whole family, with food and drink stalls also operating throughout the day. It is also held one week before the famous Jaguar Simola Hillclimb Event – making it the ideal predecessor for a week of petrolhead fun.
Jaguar Simola Hillclimb
The Jaguar Simola Hillclimb event, formerly known as the Knysna Speed Festival, is definitely one of the highlights of the year when it comes to events in the town.
The sounds of roaring engines form exceptional cars and motorcycles encompasses this family friendly event. Held in early May, and heading for it’s 10th year in 2019, the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb is an extravagant showcase of motoring power.
The biggest show of the event, of course, is the actual hillclimb, with 2018’s winner, the Gould single seater, setting a record of only 35.5 seconds.
Expect to see stunning racing cars, sports cars and supercars, as well as classic cars taking part in the much anticipated classic car parade.
The event also caters for non-motorsport visitors, and people can expect food and drink stalls and other, off-track activities.