Frontier Post to Festival City
Grahamstown or Rhini is a fascinating blend of South African culture. This is the frontier where, in the late 18th and early 19th century, Khoisan, Xhosa, Dutch and British met and clashed over the rich lands of the Zuurveld. Situated in the heart of Settler Country, by the mid 19th century, Grahamstown was the second largest city, after Cape Town, in the Cape Province.
Today, one of South Africa’s premier educational and cultural centres, Grahamstown’s fine architectural heritage is proudly preserved, from quaint cottages in town and township, to stately Victorian mansions and Church Square, complete with gothic Cathedral.
Situated just 60km from the unspoilt beaches of Port Alfred and Kenton-on-Sea and surrounded by the beautiful Eastern Cape bush with numerous malaria free game reserves, many boasting the Big 5, Grahamstown is ideally located to explore this intriguing part of South Africa.
For most South Africans, Grahamstown is best known for education and culture. Home to internationally acclaimed Rhodes University and many fine schools, it also plays host to one of the country’s longest running and biggest annual arts festivals – the National Arts Festival.
Every winter, thousands of people bundled in coats, gloves and scarves, descend on the city to revel in a 10 day feast of music, theatre and dance. The 2011 Festival, which ran from 30 June to 10 July, saw over 200,000 attendees at the various events on offer.
A spin-off of the Arts festival is Scifest, South Africa’s National Science Festival, the only one of its kind in Africa, now in its 15th year. From 4 – 10 May 2011, Scifest welcomed 65,000 visitors who attended lectures, workshops and exhibitions covering a myriad of scientific activities.