Did someone say there is going to be a Mardi Gras
Where? In Riebeek Kasteel of course, just a mere 80 km’s away from Cape Town.
We are over the moon to let you know that the Riebeek Valley will be hosting its third annual Mardi Gras Celebration Parade on Friday 3 March 2023 at 17:00.
It’s taking place in a region where you can happily drive to, and meet with our friendly locals in a charming town, with its myriad of attractions – a visual Instagrammable delight! A place where you will be able to capture the colours and chaos of the imminent Mardi Gras excitement.
No need to fuss with organising flights to the likes of New Orleans or Rio for their Carnivals, where throngs of people usually descend on the cities in question. Well, I suppose we all prefer different vibes, so there are those who enjoy the buzz of being surrounded by millions of peeps – me – I kind of dig it “country style”.
No mense, what kind are you – let’s just all meet in Riebeek. So you have never heard of Riebeek Kasteel? Google the place for goodness sake, and just start exploring local, it’s absolutely lekker – #meetmeinriebeek #mardigrasinriebeek
Arrive before Mardi Gras…
Here, in the Riebeek Valley, you will be spoilt with an abundance of scenic walks, bicycle trails bird watching, wine and olive tasting etc… in the lead up to Friday’s Mardi Gras event. Besides, you must arrive before the festivities, so that you can get to know the town – find out about the skinder in a small town…the “who’s who in the Zoo”
Come and explore the most breath-taking vistas, and enjoy the most scenic delights. Sample some of our top wines from world class winemakers in the Swartland district, and primarily our shiraz (Syrah), the most planted variety in the Swartland.
We have over twenty restaurants catering for every palate.
Feast on some of the worlds best olives and olive oils from our award-winning growers. For those that appreciate the arts, make sure you visit our galleries and spoil yourself with art from our world class artists.
We will create that festive carnival atmosphere here in the Riebeek Valley, just like we know how, with our usual sense of exuberance, authenticity and warmth.
We promise you a weekend of celebrations, comradeship, and community.
Country Style Mardi Gras…”Because if you know, you know”
This is a “country style” Mardi Gras, and a fabulous event to be experienced. There will be one major procession on the day, inclusive of parade floats, masks, beads (throws), marching bands, kids floats, dogs in costume, and a series of after hour private parties”.
The town folk will no doubt be extremely excited about organising their costumes, as there are prizes to be won for best dressed. There are cash prizes which will be awarded on the day for:
• Best Float
• Best Costume
• Best Dressed Pet
For more information and to register to participate in the parade and fun walk, please contact: Helen Weber: 072 073 3972 (WhatsApp), or email firstname.lastname@example.org Registration closes Monday, 27 February 2023
No matter how you dress up, it will be heartily welcomed at Mardi Gras, but do try to don the green, gold, or purple paraphernalia. Express yourself and explore your “inner magic” with your tutus, wigs, and feather boas, as those items are especially popular.
It would be advantageous to secure your seat from the famous veranda at the Royal Hotel, whose veranda is proclaimed the longest veranda south of the Limpopo. At the same time you can sip away in splendour, on The Royal’s signature drink of gin and tonics, while enjoying the spirit of Mardi Gras.
Alternatively, book a table at Au Bouchon Rouge, and treat yourself to the most delicious French cuisine. It’s normally the best place to sit and watch the village life go by on the outside patio, with its cane chairs and white tablecloths, reminiscent of a French pavement café. The advantages of watching the Mardi Gras parade from there is that you will have a good view, seating, and the ability to buy your drinks and have a good meal. You’ll also have easy access to the restrooms.
Last year, I felt that watching from the streets was the more authentic experience. Beads did fly willy-nilly though, so if you’re a spectator, be prepared to be showered with items ranging from plastic beads as the procession passes by. I was also asked by a policewoman to refrain from drinking alcohol in a public space, and I have not drunk alcohol in over 25 years. I suppose I was drinking non-alcoholic wine in a wine glass, and my retort to the “good copper” seemed particularly unbelievable in a region that is an oasis for wine.
In March, the weather is quite lovely in Riebeek Kasteel, but it’s advisable that you dress for comfort and wear good shoes, as you do a considerable amount of walking.
Our Valley folks display a fine palate and thirst for fine wine, but we do keep the Mardi Gras “kosher” for all to enjoy, so you won’t find “flashers” like you do at the Rio Carnival on our Main Street. So, bring the kids with you and enjoy..
Where to stay
The most important item on your list should be finding a place to stay for the Mardi Gras in Riebeek Kasteel. If you know you’re coming for the Mardi Gras, book a place to sleep ASAP. Accommodation fills up fast, and will only get more expensive closer to the day.
Many people stick to the well-known Riebeek Valley accommodation spots when deciding on their accommodation, but I recommend getting out of your comfort zone and trying out some of our new eclectic places that are more “boutique style”. Riebeek Kasteel is not a massive place, so it’s fun to walk to the town centre. Just make sure you get there early enough, so that you can get a good spot for the procession, which starts at 17:00.
Important Rules for Mardi Gras Riebeek Valley
When it comes to the dress code – we only judge you for best dress, so go crazy, and let your costume be as wild as your imagination will let you go. We are not restricting it to purple, yellow, and green. Dress like it’s your last day on this earth, or maybe dress like you are going to meet some “RELEVANT” icon.
Believe me when I say don’t wear those rhinestone boots, otherwise you will end up carrying them – you need to be absolutely comfortable with your footgear. You can still pimp that gear…
Come to our Valley and just be yourself! We are here to celebrate with anyone and everyone regardless of age, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, or religion. Just don’t be a hater please, as this day is a day of sheer celebration, and we are a gentle and wine loving people with a love for the arts.
We have very basic guidelines…
The Riebeek Valley is an enchanting place, you will see where the Mardi Gras celebrations take you. If you see something exciting, go after it and explore – Who knows, you might see what caught our eyes in this magical valley.
This town is filled to the brim with scrumptious food; feel free to line your stomachs. Many of our local restaurants will have Mardi-Gras-themed specials, so be sure to keep an eye open and book early. Some Mediterranean countries prefer to line their stomachs with a spoon of olive oil – we can certainly arrange that for you too, if you are coming on a more cost effective budget.
Drink as much water as you need from the taps. Clean water is our friend, and we are blessed to have this gift in the Riebeek Valley.
Share! The Mardi Gras concept brings people together, and sharing is caring. Even if it’s just a smile of acknowledgement around our community – this will go a long way to exuding a positive spirit. This is what the Riebeek Valley is known for.
Mardi Gras is truly a fantastic experience. People really get into the spirit with awesome costumes both in the crowd and the procession, and a real party atmosphere pervades the town. And that’s not even mentioning the floats, which are an absolute mobile work of art.
Country style Mardi Gras is something you should try to experience at least once in your life, and the Riebeek Valley Mardi Gras is certainly your chance. Though, it can be addictive… after you go once, you’ll soon be planning your return. As I have mentioned, I would implore you to schedule for March 2024, as its just around the corner! Start planning your costumes and your friends that you will be bringing along.
For now, I await your reservation and presence at this year’s Mardi Gras in the Riebeek Valley – better known as “Arts Town”, where we happily collide as artists in various disciplines such as Art of Art, Art of Food, Art of Wine, Art of Word, and Art of Expression.
Written by: Makhosazana De Wette Dludla
Photo credit David Lazarus