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Tulbagh Arts Festival

Photo: Ramese Mathews

Tulbagh, famous for the ‘wtf?’ earthquake of 1969, was the natural choice for yet another earth shattering event in the form of my ‘wtf-th?’ birthday. It was also the weekend of the Tulbagh Arts Festival, so I gathered the clan and we headed out to the country.

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Terry, an old varsity buddy, owns the beautiful Wild Olive farm and guest cottages just outside town. We’d booked the Guinea Fowl (of which we saw many) which slept six comfortably. The cottage was beautifully appointed, the cosy fire place put to good use on the chilly spring nights and the sweeping views down the valley, breathtaking.

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I’ve long loved Saronsberg’s Provenance range of wines, so a visit to the cellar was inevitable. If it’s a languid afternoon of wine, art and scenic splendour you’re after, this is the place to be.

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Good wine calls for good cheese, so we popped in at Kimilili Cheese on the way back to town. Anton gave us a slap-up tasting of their full range, all made from pasture-fed Jersey milk. If you’re in Cape Town with no plans to visit Tulbagh any time soon, Kimilili’s cheese is also available from the Real Cheese Company in Lower Main road, Observatory. Try the peppery Pepato!

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No visit to Tulbagh is complete without making the pilgrimage to the Saronsberg Theatre where local boys, the Witzenbergies – by their own admission, the oldest boy band in the world – were headlining that night. They were fun to watch, but even more fun was watching the new boy, Grant Clack, performing what I suspect was his first official gig, in front of at least thirty members of the Clack family. Priceless entertainment.

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We chose the Olive Terrace Bistro at the Tulbagh Hotel for the birthday lunch. I’d liked the look of their menu, the location was great and they have a 4.5 rating on TripAdvisor. Done. The day was cold but we were warmed by more Saronsberg wine and the mellow harmonies of Anthony Keogh’s retro playlist. The Bistro delivered: simple fare, prepared well, with decent ingredients.

It was late afternoon when we finally strolled  down Church street, peeking into quaint country shops and crashing arty parties at hip exhibitions where we rubbed shoulders with the creative force getting pissed on local wine.

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That night we upped our cultural game and headed off to Morgensvlei for the festival’s gala concert: a performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Mother Nature was determined to get top billing with gale force winds howling through the valley, but she was no match for the brilliant performances of Petrus de Beer, Stanislav Angelov and homeboy Al Frost – all suited up and symphonic.

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We ended the evening with the impressive vocals of Arida at the Kuierbossie ‘Spring Arts Loslit Dans’, where we ate bountiful burgers, drank cold beers and made new friends – the perfect wind down to a cultural overload in the beautiful Tulbagh Valley.

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1 Comment so far

  1. Absolutely wonderful post Jo…love the descriptive writing and of course as always beautiful photos…hope this is the first of MANY posts as so enjoy reading them..and I wanna go visit Tulbagh now….a proper visit like this…not a drive through like we did on our flash by tour last January. .xxx

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