Unpacking the Knysna Oyster Festival

South Africa has a wide variety of annual festivals celebrating food, cheese, music, wine, jazz, literature, comedy, culture, gay pride and even kite flying. Sadly, these events were cancelled in 2020 but the good news is that they are slowly returning! The latest revival is the Knysna Oyster Festival – known on the Garden Route as ‘The Best Ten Days of Your Winter’! 

 A ultra wide panorama of Knysna lagoon at sunrise South Africa shutterstock 794979784

The Knysna Oyster Festival is more than just a simple festival to celebrate the delicious harvest of the sea – it is an event that brings conviviality to the whole town and takes your visit to another level.   

Knysna is one of the most charming coastal towns on the Garden Route, but not quite on the coast. The town hugs the massive Knysna Lagoon which in turn leads to the sea, via the Knysna Heads. The Heads can be beset with treacherous currents and at the beginning of the last century wooden schooners seeking safety in the natural harbour were directed through this narrow channel by Pilot John Benn. This was achieved from the craggy Heads with the pilot using navigational flags. Today the pleasure cruiser named after legendary John Benn will take you around Leisure Isle to the Heads and give you a tour of the lagoon.  

For many years it was believed that the founder of Knysna, one George Rex, was the illegitimate son of King George III of England, but it has been relegated to urban legend status. All the same it adds a fairy-tale air to the town with its ancient buildings and stone church.  

viviana rishe QAFp7YhT 4Q unsplash

The festival is of course about the tasty oyster and this delicious mollusk will be served in many guises to satisfy all palates - even cooked for those who are a little squeamish about swallowing raw seafood. Restaurants take on a festive air and many other dishes are also served from grilled seafood to good old juicy steaks and Karoo lamb.   

Join in the family fun, sporting events, food and wine stalls, live entertainment and cruises on the lagoon. A walk or drive in the famous forest is a must and the charming old village of Belvidere will take you right back in time. Thesen Island is abuzz with restaurants and the town has a variety of craft shops and galleries. 

Knysna Featherbed Nature Reserve Lagoon 6

What to do over the Knysna Oyster Festival from 9 -18 July 2021  
  • Rotary Knysna Cycle Tour - 17 and 18 July  
  • Mountain Bike Family Fun Run – 15 km  
  • Knysna Virtual Forest Race replaces the traditional Knysna Forest Marathon and will be run during the week of 8-18 July. Visit https://www.facebook.com/knysnaforestmarathon for more details! 
  • Houtkapper Trail run  
  • Winter Christmas Market in nearby Sedgefield  
  • Watch out for the arrival of the Humpback whales  
  • Watch the Hansa Waterfront Rush – kayak event  

Thompsons Holidays has a selection of holiday accommodation, ranging from luxury to cheap packages, to the Knysna Oyster Festival running from 9 to 18 July 2021. Speak to a consultant for a package that suits you and join in the fun. 

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