The Kaapse Klopse, or Cape Carnival, dates back to the 19th century. It has its origins in Cape Town’s slave community, when, on a rare holiday on New Year’s Day, the city’s slaves arranged a day of festivities. While slavery is a distant memory, this New Year’s tradition lives on.

Did you know?

Streets where there are troupes preparing for the annual minstrel carnival are often decorated with colourful bunting.

The Kaapse Klopse is a New Year’s carnival that usually takes place in the streets of Cape Town on the 2nd of January, a date known as Tweede Nuwejaar (second new year).

Rooted in slave culture, the tradition is a modern day take on the celebrations held when the slaves in the Cape were given a holiday at the start of a new year.

Preparations for the Cape carnival start well in advance, with minstrel troupes rehearsing songs, dance routines and parades for months. Costume preparation – usually boldly coloured satin fabric, bow ties, umbrellas and hats – begins in August, although some troupes start their rehearsals and preparations as early as July.

Over the years, these minstrels, with their rich blend of music and spectacle, were grouped into ‘klopse’, or clubs. Cheered on with loud support from scores of spectators, they began a tradition of parading through the city to a local stadium where the annual competition is held.

Today, up to 10 000 banjo-strumming minstrels take to the streets of District Six, winding through the central business district of Cape Town on their way to Green Point Stadium (although each year there may be some variation to the route).

With troupe names like 'Cape Flats Minstrels', 'Unlimited Community Entertainers' and 'Classic Youth Development', the carnival has become a symbol and celebration of life in the Cape, as well as a fun way to welcome in the New Year.

Travel tips & Planning info

How to get here

The festival takes place in Cape Town, usually starting in District Six and covering much of the central business district and waterfront, ending at the Green Point Stadium, although the actual route may vary from year to year.

Best time to visit

The festival starts on New Year’s Eve and the programme of festivities usually continues well into January.

Get around

Park your car in the District Six area and follow the extravaganza on foot.

What to pack

Comfortable walking shoes are a must if you plan to follow the parade on foot. Some colourful garb will help you blend in.

Where to stay

Cape Town has accommodation options to suit all budgets and tastes.

What to eat

Stalls along the route sell food and drinks, including many Cape Malay dishes.