Friday, January 2, 2015

Every year, crowds of people head to central Cape Town to share in the fun and excitement of the New Year minstrel carnival street parade. Historical accounts suggest that 2 January or ‘Tweede Nuwe Jaar’ (Afrikaans for Second New Year) was the only day by law on which slaves at the Cape had a day off. They took to the streets singing, dancing and playing musical instruments. After the abolition of slavery, the celebratory tradition continued making this one of the longest running street carnivals in the world, second only to Rio.

Changing 'gear'

For the more than 70 troupes, in excess of 13 000 participants, having the right kit is essential. Each year, seamstresses sew new shiny brightly coloured unisex uniforms known as ‘gear’. Having your gear “opgesquare” means having the correct basic kit. Panama hats are worn, as are bow ties, waistcoats, tailcoats and ‘tekkies’ (sneakers). Umbrellas held in gloved hands are twirled as performers sing, dance and march through streets accompanied by brass instruments and the unmistakable rhythmic beating of the 'ghoemas' (drums).

Music to everyone’s ears

Spectators can expect comic songs in English and Afrikaans, combined chorus numbers, sentimental solos, swing and ragtime. Troupes will also throw in an Old Dutch classic or two plus lively instrumental pieces including hymns, Christmas Carols and light classical. Each song is performed to the delight of carnival goers of all ages.

More than just a day

Collectively referred to as ‘Kaapse Klopse’ troupes are in fact made up of ‘Klopse’, ‘Nagtroepe’ and ‘Christmas Bands’ each with their own special flavour and musical preferences. 'Klopse' (Afrikaans for clubs) is the term given to the formal organisation of minstrel teams or clubs in the latter part of the 19th century. While ‘Tweede Nuwe Jaar’ is most famously associated with the annual street parade preparation begins much earlier. In fact, 'Tweede Nuwe Jaar' is one day in a carnival season, which starts in December and ends in March/April with various festive competitions in between.

Route and other need to know info

This year’s ‘Tweede Nuwe Jaar’ takes place on Monday, 5 January 2015 out of respect for Moulood, an important day on the Muslim religious calendar. Official carnival revelry takes place between 12:00 and 23:30. It starts in Keizerrgracht Street in District Six; moves left into Adderley Street, right into Wale Street, crosses Buitengracht Road, and weaves right into Rose Street through the Bo-Kaap. All necessary traffic, police, risk management and city services will maintain a strong presence throughout.

Carnival day road closures 
Bo-Kaap Museum: Dedicated to The ‘Slaves’ Who Helped Build Cape Town

*Road closure information sourced from

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