Cape Town Carnival will be ‘lekker’ this year, say organisers

The Cape Town Carnival will take place on Saturday March 16. Pictured are some of the dancers and organisers at the launch event last Thursday.

The annual Cape Town Carnival will take place along the Green Point Fan Walk on Saturday March 16.

The carnival will see performers in colourful costumes on decorated floats, dancing and singing under the theme, Lekker, which was announced at a rooftop venue in the city centre last Thursday, January 19.

The 2024 event will feature 44 groups – with a total of more than 1 400 performers – ranging from marching bands to dance crews and everything in between.

Carnival CEO Jay Douwes said the theme spoke to what represents locals.

“The Cape Town Carnival is more than an event; it is an authentic celebration of South African humour, culture and fun, but also a testament to our shared heritage, and a platform for fostering a sense of pride in our city.”

Carnival CEO Jay Douwes

She said “Lekker” was the feeling that they want to evoke at the carnival.

Carnival Board Chair Professor Rachel Jafta said the carnival also provides a platform for local and cultural offerings, giving the performers the opportunity to develop their skills over many months and then showcase them at event.

Carnival Board Chair Professor Rachel Jafta

Performance facilitator at the carnival, Sibusiso Sakayi, spoke to the audience about the opportunities he received through the carnival.

He also heads up Ithongo Lethu, an arts and culture project that works with youth from Gugulethu and its surrounding areas.

Performance director at the carnival Tracey Carter with performance facilitator Sibusiso Sakayi during a discussion at the launch event.

Mr Sakayi said one of his dreams was to perform on big stages and screens, and to share his talent with his community.

He started Ithongo Lethu in 2017, teaching the children of his community dance, drama and indigenous music.

“It is a safe space for the youth and the surrounding areas. There are social issues such as gangsterism, drug and alcohol abuse and teenage pregnancies. The group keeps the kids busy, and they are free to express themselves and show their talents.”

Performers gave a sneak-peek at the launch event.

He said he first experienced the Cape Town Carnival from the audience, waving at the performers in 2016. He became a regular spectator and in 2019, he joined an organisation who were partners of the Cape Town Carnival, and he performed at the carnival that year for the first time. In 2020, the carnival opened up an opportunity for him to go to Hong Kong.

After the Covid-19 pandemic, the carnival returned, and he was appointed its performance facilitator and choreographer.

Performers dance at the launch event.

“As a young boy from an underprivileged community, a lot of people are not informed about the creative arts. I was bullied as a ‘black’ boy wearing leotards on stage. But as performers we face thousands of people in an auditorium so I overcame that.”

He said another challenge was to get young boys to join the dance group to keep them from falling victim to gangsterism and drug abuse. He said over the years, the number of male participants has grown significantly, which he was proud of.

“I wouldn’t have been where I am if it wasn’t for the performing arts. It has impacted my life in a positive way.”

Deputy mayor Eddie Andrews said the economic and social impact of the carnival is essential. “These events are attended by national and international guests, who stay in our hotels, spend money at our eateries, and support our informal traders – that economic injection is important. It is what makes it baie lekker here in Kaapstad.”

To give a behind-the-scenes look at the work that goes into the creative process, Cape Town Carnival is running a social media campaign called #followyourheART that focuses on 20 of the participating community groups.

The campaign highlights their passion and dedication and experience of taking part in the carnival.

Entry to the event is free but tickets will also be available for seats in strategically placed stands along the parade route.

Tickets for Cape Town Carnival seats are on sale on Quicket. For more information see capetowncarnival.com.