The 2015 Cape Town Carnival exploded into the packed city streets in a flurry of feathers and swirling, glittering, streamers. Not only were the woman wearing little but crop tops and hoop dresses, but the men kept pace in loin cloths and headdresses too. Even the firemen did their bit by arriving in rather a hurry as they only manage to get half dressed. All this in support of the Elemental theme for this years Carnival, celebrating fire, water, earth and air.
We decided to attend this years Carnival as we have run out of excuses not to. We went expecting a half baked show with floats resembling those out of our varsity days, made in a stupor of alcohol and sleep deprivation, but boy were we wrong.
We stood face to face with life size elephants complete with elegantly moving parts, larger than life swimming fish and protea’s with dancing girls inside. Throngs of skateboarders cruised down Summerset road while a bevy of belly-dancers jangled along after them. Beautiful woman adorned with tails of feathers, others with skirts of ivy and choreographed dancers kept rigorously in check by well-camouflaged marshals, entertained us for over 2 hours.
Our kids were in heaven. With their disregard for anything regarding safety, we stuck them directly behind the railing in a sort of ‘caved out’ area from which they could not escape, be nabbed, or get into any serious trouble. With our bases covered we were able to stand back and enjoy the show from our tippy-toes as we peered over other onlookers shoulders, while our children sat in comfort, snacking on pre-packed treats and being entertained with hand shakes, high fives and fist pumps from dancers and musicians on their way past. If I was able to squeeze myself into the hollowed out area behind the railing without getting my head squashed between the bars and my rear kicked by countless onlookers, I would have wedged myself in there with them – they really had a prime spot.
The show was delightful and the atmosphere filled with all the ‘gees’ we South Africans have come to expect from our local entertainment. It was vibey and bustling and filled with Capetonian tang. There were plenty of food trucks lining the fan-walk providing everything from Columbian cuisine to soft-serve, and the restaurants lining the road were humming with excitement. All in all, this is a real Mardigra in the making, with a large dollop of South African flavour.
Would I do this again? Absolutely. Probably not every year as I believe they reused some of the floats from last year. But I think it would be fun to do with just grown ups too so we can join in the street party afterwards instead of racing to get the kids home. It’s a great party vibe.
What to be aware of? A lot of people, especially those with children, made a mad dash for the exit points after the parade. We needed to carry our children to keep their heads above the crowd. Either hang back and wait for the masses to leave, or make sure you can carry your kids if you intend on leaving in a hurry. Although it is possible to take a pram, I wouldn’t recommend it, you will find it difficult to negotiate the crowds and the pram will prove cumbersome. Consider taking a baby pouch or child carrier for young kids.