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With Nelson Mandela's passing, he will be remembered for his generosity of spirit and the remarkable achievement of bringing peace to a deeply divided country.
As beautiful as the Free State is, it’s equally interesting and dynamic. It’s centred around traditional African cultures, as well as influences of the early European settlers.
Famous for its golden sandstone sentinels, the Golden Gate Highlands National Park is a breathtaking destination.
The Oliewenhuis Art Museum may be called a “museum”, but it's really an art experience – gallery, restaurants, gardens and all!
Macufe is a cultural-based festival that showcases a wide range of African arts and culture to the world. It is held in Bloemfontein every year. Macufe, the ten-day Mangaung African Cultural Festival, showcases the cream of African and international talent. It features jazz, gospel, kwaito, hip-hop, R&B, rock and classical music, as well as dance, drama, cabaret, musical theatre, poetry, fine art and traditional arts and crafts. First held in 1997 before an audience of 30 000, Macufe now attracts over 140 000 people from South Africa, Africa and the world. The festival is presented in late September and early October by the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State.
The first Cherry Festival was held in 1968 and is the longest-running festival in South Africa. You can indulge on fresh, succulent cherries – harvested from October to December. The festival stretches over three days and attracts up to 30 000 people. The festival offers quality family shows and activities such as the herding of sheep, horse rides, camel rides, helicopter flips, steam train rides at Sandstone Estate, and tours through the town to see the beautiful sandstone buildings and architecture. Ficksburg is situated on the scenic landscape of the eastern Free State, nestled between the foot of the Imperani Mountain and the banks of the Caledon River. It is known as the cherry capital of the world, and to celebrate this fact, the town hosts the annual cherry festival. It is the largest cherry-producing area in South Africa, and the first successful cherry trees were planted in this area in 1905.
The Free State Flower Festival – scheduled to take place in Parys, a small, vibrant town on the banks of the Vaal River – will be the flower event of the year. The event is a joint venture between the governments of the Free State and Madeira in Portugal, who host the world’s largest flower festival. Included in this extravaganza are 500 dancers, five massive floats and giant flower puppets performing around a spectacular flower precinct in a Disney-like flower story. It is the first time a fully-fledged, massive flower parade takes to the streets, anywhere in South Africa. The Flower Precinct is the area where several floral exhibits will be located. These will include regional exhibitors, wholesalers, retailers and delicious food and drink vendors. Various activities and fun-themed events will be staged over the two days of the festival, and will provide entertainment for the entire family. Among the highlights will be a fully-flower production narrated by the renowned Gina Hlope, musical performances, kid shows and various floral competitions.
Spanning nearly 400 000km2 in the geographic midriff of South Africa, the Great Karoo must be one of the quietest places on Earth.
If you’re looking for that raw mix of South African culture and breathtaking scenery, then you have to visit the Basotho Cultural Village in the Free State province.
If you’re a history buff, particularly military history, then the Battlefields Route in the Free State province will take you on a journey through the sites of some of the fiercest battles in South African history.