Tag Archives: festival

Carnival Weekend at the Winter Wonderland Festival in Gordon’s Bay (2019-06-15) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 15 SEP 2020

So clearly 2020, the year in which, thanks to Covid-19 and the ensuing pandemic, everything got turned upside down right across the world, did not feature the return of our little town’s now annual festival of lights. Having been running since 2010, the locally organized Gordon’s Bay Winter Wonderland Festival has done a fantastic job of injecting fun and life into our small economy during the quiet winter months, so not having it happen this year on what would have been its 10th birthday was a little disappointing to say the least.

The 2019 edition of the Winter Wonderland was a great success, with the formula now well and truly locked down. Spread over two weekends to mitigate any weather related disasters (of which this time around there were none), the festival kicked off like it always does with a small procession of local clubs and groups down Beach road and through to the festival grounds at Hendon Park (where the carnival has now been based for the last couple of years). As part of Moxy Movement’s dance classes at school, Jessica got to be a part of the fun, swathed from head to toe in LED lights and neon coloured accessories!

Hearty food stalls, fun and games for the kids, live music and even an enthralling laser show were the order for the first evening of the festival, though of course come daybreak we had to be back again in order to take full advantage of the live entertainment, food stalls, arts and craft exhibitors, candy floss, and most important of all, the fun fair rides set up and operated by Funland Amusements.

If you have small children like we do then pretty much 90% of the time spent at the festival involves buying strings of tickets and watching the kids spin round through the air through a cacophony of light and sound, but seeing those massive smiles stretched across each of their faces is definitely more than worth it!

So hopefully with all the good news currently swirling around successful vaccines against Covid-19 and the all-encompassing pandemic, 2021 takes on a bit of a more normal shape and with it sees our little town festival make an enthusiastic return.

Fun and Games at the Winter Wonderland Festival in Gordon’s Bay (2018-07-08) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 08 JUN 2019

Next week Friday (the 14th of June 2019) the ninth edition of Gordon’s Bay’s very own Winter Wonderland Festival kicks off with its annual evening parade – and this time we even have one of our daughters dancing in it!

Started back in 2010 by the newly launched Gordon’s Bay Business Forum as a way of attracting visitors during the quiet winter months, the festival has gone from strength to strength, morphing from an intimate collection of food trucks on the site of the old Van Riebeek Hotel and lots of fairy lights running through the milkwood trees, to the slickly run, well marketed, sprawling array of tents and fun rides that you find on the carnival weekends today.

Every year the “Carnival Park”, now situated in Hendon Park right on Gordon’s Bay’s beautiful main beach is a blast, with loads of food trucks and food stalls, virtually non-stop live music, beer, arts and crafts, family activities and just plenty of fun. That said, the highlight of the festivities as far as the kids are concerned is always the fun park set up and operated by Funland Amusements SA – their collection of fun rides is always a massive hit for the event!

This year (as it has been for the last couple of years – basically a safeguard against the whole thing being rained out entirely), the festival is spread over two carnival weekends, 14-16 and 21-23 June. And yes, obviously we are going to have just as much fun as what we did last year!


Winter Wonderland Fun Rides in Gordon’s Bay (2017-07-23) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 08 FEB 2018

The Gordon’s Bay Winter Wonderland Festival of Lights has been on the go for a couple of years now, with each year definitely getting bigger and better. Featuring a parade, dance, fun run, arts and crafts, loads of food stalls, music performances, kids entertainment, and of course a whole lot of fairy lights.

However the star of the show as far as what my girls are concerned is without a doubt the fun park, which is filled with all manner of fun rides (mostly things that spin really fast while lifting up and down) for both young and the not particularly so old crowd.

For the really little ones there are trains, bugs, clowns, puppies and octopuses, all of which Emily made very sure to have a go at.

Jessica on the other hand wanted things a little higher and a little faster, and I suspect in a year or two when she’s a bit bigger, she’ll be twisting my arm for the REALLY expensive rides!

(Sure, the tickets are only R10 a piece, but for the bigger, newer machines you are looking at five or six tickets, i.e. R50-R60, per ride! Emily on the other hand should still be a nice cheap date though…)

We don’t have access to fun rides very often here in Gordon’s Bay, so what was nice last year was the fun park hanging around for a fair bit after the Winter Wonderland festival had passed, giving the girls more than a few opportunities to get some kicks in! (Which is why if you look at the photos, you’ll see the girls wearing different clothes and in different light conditions.)

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Right, so I imagine then that we’ll find ourselves back in the queue come July again! :)

Related Link: Winter Wonderland Festival | Gordon’s Bay

2008 South African Cheese Festival My Life 04 MAY 2008

So as I reported earlier, Saturday the 26th of April saw Chantelle and me attending the annual South African Cheese Festival, held on the Bien Donne farm just outside of Franschhoek. This was the seventh year of this sophisticated cheese and wine showcase’s existence and it ran from the 25th to the 28th of April.

Based on the weather reports for the week, we were pretty gloomy at the prospect of attending this cheese and wine extravaganza, because as the experts would have it, we would be standing knee deep in mud and soaked to the bone should there be no cover under which to seek shelter. As it turned out, the weather played along perfectly and was simply fantastic for this kind of outing.

The event itself has grown tremendously since its initial run and the farm now caters for literally thousands and thousands of visitors who come from far and wide (a huge percentage of which are Stellenbosch and UCT students, I am sure of it!) to partake in the festivities. The idea for the festival is that it is a showcase for all the local winemakers and cheese producers of the region to have a place to show off their wares and hopefully attract some more business in the process.

The method is pretty simple. Have a couple of huge tents standing around, put down a fake carpet flooring and then set up literally hundreds of little stalls for all the producers to take over and make their own. Alongside this, establish a huge outdoor area for relaxation purposes that is lined with tons of specialised food/restaurant stalls to feed the hungering masses who might grow tired of consuming just wine and cheese all day. And of course, to keep the spirit of this whole commercial venture a little more festival like, you need to organise a bit of entertainment in the form of live music as well, just to keep the crowd happy.

This is pretty much the recipe that the organisers decided to follow and all I can say is that it was indeed a good recipe to stick to. They managed to create a vibrant, bustling festival vibe in which everyone was having a good time and there was in the end very little to complain about. The producers were all getting a good traffic throughput and the exchange of money was fast and furious. What more could they ask for?

Being primarily a cheese festival you go there expecting to eat lots of cheese (like I was) and thankfully the festival certainly didn’t skimp on this facet. There were literally hundreds of cheese producers on display, from the big name players like Clover and Parmalat to the smaller, more specialised cheese houses. Of course with this much cheese to sample a person quickly needs a drink in hand, and that is where the brilliant decision to share the space equally amongst cheese and wine producers comes to the fore. You literally walk to one stall, grab some cheese and then walk to the stall next to it and stock up on some wine for ‘tasting’ purposes. Of course, the idea is if you really like something you will buy it, and as always Chantelle was immediately suckered into purchasing (when I say she purchased I mean I paid for it) some sort of fancy Simonsberg Camembert Madagascar Green Pepper that is basically a small cut of cheese stuffed into a fancy box. I on the other hand was there to sample as much cheese as possible, which would explain why I was dragging Chantelle mercilessly from stall to stall without giving her time to actually savour what she was trying.

On the wine front though, I do have to admit to sampling some fantastic wines and truly there was something of everything to be had. Although I didn’t actually end up purchasing anything, I must have at least ended up drinking a bottle or two of all the assorted alcohol that I tasted! My only real astute observation on the wine front ended up being that as a male it must be dangerous to work on the Zevenwacht Estate – every single male on their team was bald! This is obviously a sign that I should stop drinking Zevenwacht, even if they happened to be the venue at which my sister previously got married.

Of course, specialised producers like honey and nougat makers didn’t want to be left out of the party either, so alongside all of the cheese and wine you would often find yourself stumbling on a very specialised little outfit like a tofu or chocolate salami manufacturer. Chantelle nearly wet herself when she discovered the Wedgewood Nougat group was present as well, so inevitably we ended up buying some of their wares as well.

As for the entertainment, in all honesty the organisers could have gone for something a little more high profile than what they did, but seeing as the age group at which this festival is actually targeted at, the cheesy bands putting out all the old classics was probably the most suitable in the end. Actually, the best entertainment was to be had at the big Checkers display where they pulled out all the stops, organising many cooking demonstrations from various famous celebrity chefs, entertaining with the fabulous Sterling trio of girls who play the electronic forms of the violin and cello, and trying to pull in all the TV fans by having Egoli star David Vlok as host.

The festival also put on a couple of its own cooking shows, the most notable of which was the shows by Nataniel which surprisingly enough were all sold out the minute the tickets went up for grabs. Luckily for me and unluckily for the rest of the Montgomery clan, we didn’t get to see any of his shows thanks to the fact that we had pitched up a little later than originally planned!

And then there were of course the food stalls. A number of well known restaurants from the area all had a stall there and you could literally get anything your heart desired for lunch which would explain why we ended up with Boerewors rolls and pancakes as a snack once Chantelle finally tired of the whole wine and cheese business. Admittedly, it was difficult to fit the pancakes and Boerewors roll in past all the blocks of cheddar that I had squashed in there with my dual toothpick technique, but I managed in the end.

Overall I must say that this festival can only be described as being an absolute success. Flawlessly organised, from the parking to the purchase of branded glasses on your entrance, everything ran as smoothly as a good sauvignon blanc down your throat and I am pretty sure that everyone who loves cheese, wine and a little bit of culture had a pretty good experience. As it was, the actual venue was so big that we in fact ended up missing out on the entire ABSA wine route tent!

It was a fun experience marred only by our own stupidity when at the end of it all, we ended up walking down the entirely wrong road to exit the farm, forcing us to turn back and walk a couple of hundred kilometres (well it felt like it) back to get to the ride road to get to the car!

And just to prove that I am not just making this mini report up and was in fact hobnobbing with all those other wine-loving, cheese-tasting people, here are some pictures snapped with Chantelle’s ever handy little phone:

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See, I told you so! :P

Related Link: South African Cheese Festival