Cape Town carnival is back this year – but it's no longer free to attend

Business Insider SA

Cape Town Carnival 2022
(Photo by Brenton Geach/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
  • The Cape Town Carnival will take place on 19 March, after a two-year, coronavirus-induced break.
  • This year's carnival follows a new format, with five distinctly themed hubs dotted around the city centre.
  • It's also the first time attendees will need to pay to experience the carnival, with tickets to one show at one hub starting at R10.
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The Cape Town Carnival returns in 2022 after a two-year hiatus brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdown restrictions. The event has traditionally been free, but this year attendees will need to pay.

The Cape Town Carnival, which takes place annually in March, celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2019, with parades, floats, dancers, and musicians drawing more than 50,000 visitors to the city's streets.

The following year, South Africa entered a coronavirus-induced state of disaster around the same time as the planned carnival, which was swiftly scrapped. The 2021 event was also cancelled.

Now, after a two-year break, the Cape Town Carnival returns to the city on 19 March. This time around, it has a different format to comply with Covid-19 health and safety measures. It's also going to cost attendees at least R10, in a departure from the historically free event.

"This year's Carnival will move people like never before. Literally," said Cape Town Carnival CEO, Jay Douwes.

"Visitors curate their own experience as they move between five distinct outdoor Carnival Hubs across the city. They get to explore the city, its streets, restaurants, and galleries, while enjoying vibrant performances, installations, and attractions."

Cape Town Carnival 2022

This year's carnival consists of five hubs, each with their own distinct theme, situated at different locations within the city centre, between Hatfield Street and Buitengracht Street.

Each location – Hatfield Street Hub, SA National Museum Hub, National Gallery Hub, Greenmarket Hub, and Heritage Hub – will host five shows on the day, with a one-hour interval allowing for cleaning and sanitising.

Each hub is able to accommodate between 2,000 and 4,500 attendees, depending on the size of the specific location. The carnival starts at 14:30 and ends at 21:30.

The organisers have stressed the importance of making this year's carnival as safe as possible within the context of Covid-19, fearing that without any limitations or provisions that the event may turn into a super spreader.

This is one of the reason's why the carnival has been spread across five locations, each with their own capacity limits. It's also why attendees will need to pay this year, according to the organisers.

Cape Town Carnival 2022

Each attendee will need to purchase a R10 ticket – available online, at Pick n Pay, or at the venue on the day – and supply Covid-19 track-and-trace information.

This R10 ticket gives one attendee access to one show at one hub. It will cost R50 to experience all five hubs and the carnival organisers recommend visiting "at least three hubs to get a full experience." There are no group, pensioner, or student discounts.

Attendees will need to have their temperatures screened before entering each hub and must wear a facemask. They won't, however, be required to prove their vaccination status, although this may change if national government implements a mandatory vaccination policy – currently being discussed – before then.

No food or drink will be sold at the hubs, although attendees will be able to visit local restaurants and bars along the routes connecting the five venues.

(Compiled by Luke Daniel) 

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