The Knysna Oyster Festival boasts a smorgasbord of activities for young and old, fitness freaks and foodies alike. Johann van Tonder gets into the new Subaru Forester 2.0 i-S ES and scouts around Knysna to give you a peek of what’s on offer when the fest kicks off.
The pearl of Western Cape events
Running from 21 to 30 June this year, the annual Knysna Oyster Festival has long been one of the most popular events on the Western Cape social calendar. Central to the festival, as always, are the oysters – the royal family of the shellfish world. Oysters have long been the delicacy of choice for gourmands, romantics and those who appreciate the finer things in life.
The world is your oyster
If you are new to oysters, it’s important to know that Knysna boasts two delicious varieties of oyster – the cultivated, or farmed oyster, and the wild coastal variety that grows en masse along our coastline. Start off with a fresh, cultivated oyster, with a squeeze of lemon juice or dash of Tabasco (or go wild and have both!). This is your basic oyster. From there you can explore the endless world of oysters served naked, cooked or garnished at flavour hotspots all over Knysna throughout the festival. Be sure not to miss ‘Seafood Wednesday’, when top-notch restaurants showcase their best seafood dishes. And don’t miss the Oyster Cook Off and Festival at Pili-Pili in Sedgefield, where you can shuck your Oysters with your feet in the sand.
Be a good sport
To work off those calories there is a variety of runs, starting with the iKasi 4km Colour Fun Run/Walk & After Party on 22 June, where you can rub shoulders with a number of local celebrities, DJs and entertainers. There is also a Relay Race for young and old on the 24th, the Houtkapper Trail Run on 30 June with distances of 9, 15 and 27km, and the 21 and 42km Knysna Forest Marathon on 29 June.
Cyclists have a variety of events to choose from too: the Knysna Cycle Tour MTB Race on the 22 June, and the Knysna Cycle Tour Road Race on the 23rd, with the Spur Children’s Cycle Tour on the same day. There’s also a Mountain Bike Meander in Harkerville Forest on the 25th, and the Kurland Forest Triathlon for the those who like more of a challenge.
For swimmers, the Knysna Lagoon Mile Swim on the 28th is a 1 650m open-water swim through the stunning Knysna Lagoon and Waterfront canals. Race your way to the finish in either the Mile Swim or the 400m Junior swim.
Into other sport? Choose between the Basketball (22nd), Soccer (28th), Boxing (29th), Rugby (29th) and Chess tournaments, or enjoy a game of boules with a partner on the Lower Lawn at Belvidere Manor – treat yourself to tea and scones and some Knysna Gin afterwards. For golfers, there’s the Motus Pezula ProAm Golf Tournament on 29 June, a 4 Ball on one of the most scenic golf courses in South Africa that will only set you back R450pp. Warm up the day before in the Europcar Knysna Classic, also at Pezula, complete with green fees, golf cart, halfway house, player merchandise and prize-giving dinner.
Adventure, kids’ entertainment and plenty for the adults
For adventure-seekers there are guided snorkelling excursions where you can explore the magical deep in and around the Knysna Heads and see the famous Pequita wreck and her many new inhabitants. Or take the historical River of Gold nature walk, where you’ll join a specialist guide and his team on a walk back in time through the Knysna Forest, learning its secrets and the history of the woodcutters of yore.
Kids will be entertained at the Knysna Mall on 28 & 29 June with a selection of activities, including face painting, glitter tattoos and a jumping castle. Budding artists can enter the Kids Pavement art competition on the 29th, where they’ll draw chalk pictures on the pavements at Woodmill Lane for a chance to win great prizes.
Nightlife includes happy hours, wine and food pairings, gin tastings, shows with artists like Robin Auld and Rocco de Villiers. ‘The “not so” Secret Something – Adult Edition’ brings you Bijou, a cabaret show of visually teasing acts with comedy and pizzazz – a little spicy, a little naughty and a lot of fun, and you can even bring your own drinks, glasses and snacks. Last, but not least, join a Murder Mystery Dinner on the 28th – with a red carpet dress code and dinner included, this is an event to die for!
To get around, several shuttle services are available – so park your car and enjoy your oysters and bubbly safely and responsibly. The Knysna Oyster Festival is the perfect place to get out of your shell!