The streets are crowded with pedestrians, the fashion boutiques are still open, there are pop-up markets and food stalls, and it seems like every bar and restaurant is running a special… what is happening?? Why are all these hip, well-dressed people out and about talking about going to 99 On Loop first, and then checking out Youngblood after?
It’s Cape Town’s First Thursdays! A fantastic public event that is free for anyone to attend. Focused on art and culture, it’s an evening, once a month, where galleries stay open until 9 pm or later to launch new exhibitions or simply showcase their curated collection (usually with free wine). Restaurants, bars, and boutiques get in on the action too, either by running drink specials or hiring bands and DJs to add a lively vibe to the city streets. It has become one of Cape Town’s most happening events on the nightlife calendar and some people don’t even go to see any art but to enjoy the party.
But if it is art that interests you, then you are in for a treat! Cape Town has many wonderful galleries with amazing art by up and coming, as well as, established artists, either local or from the rest of the continent.
There is no tour, schedule, or guided walk; that is all up to you. Simply pick up a map at your first stop, or keep an eye on the First Thursdays Facebook page where they will share highlights, and then wander around following your whims or whatever catches your eye or ear.
There are good clusters of galleries on Loop St and Church St but if you consult the map you will see that there are more scattered around some other side streets as well. Bree St is where the party is at with HQ, La Parada, and Cabron all spilling out into the street (remember to keep an eye on your belongings as it can be a great opportunity for pickpockets).
It’s a walkable event, so no need to worry about parking or driving. Rather use an Uber, especially if you will be drinking. First Thursdays take place during all seasons, rain or shine and are on the 1st Thursday of every month. Locals love it and visitors to Cape Town often remember it as a highlight of their trip, so if you’re in town – check it out!