Your guide to the Hermanus Whale Festival

Posted by Linda Markovina on 16 September 2013

Its’ that time of the year again when Southern Right whales migrate from their feeding grounds in Antarctica, up along our coastline in the Cape. With their breeding grounds being dotted around the more sheltered bays of the Cape coast, they pass the warmer time of the year nursing, calving and pulling off some rather spectacular water acrobatics sometimes just a few meters away from the coastline (read: spotting whales at the Hermanus Whale Festival). For the twenty second year in a row the Hermanus Whale Festival is celebrating the environment and local arts in one of the best know areas for land-based whale watching along the South Coast (Cape Whale Coast Route travel guide).



The Two Oceans Hermanus Whale Festival

20 September – 24 September 2013

In 2012 there were nearly 100 000 visitors, so if the September weather gives us sun and shine expect a great, big turnout of people flocking to the city center to experience food, music, crafters, sports events, kids entertainment. The Two Oceans Wine food & Music Marquee will be hosting 30 local artists who will be performing throughout the festival as well as The Checkers Living Table will have some foodie celebrities hanging out. Don’t miss the Marine Endangered Species Expo Marquee, definitely the reason I am going, not just for the talks by different ocean experts, but also for bubble maker pool and all the interesting marine environmental information that will be available.


Music at the Hermanus Whale Festival

Fri, 20 – Latin Kings with Ernesto Latino FREE

Sat, 21 – Awesome 4some & Daniel Baron (supporting)

Sun, 22 – Legends of Rock: Renegade Rockers & Tribute (supporting)

Mon, 23 – Johan Yssel – Master of Illusion

Performances will take place at the Waterfront Piazza in front of the Village Square and there are two ways you can listen to the music. Firstly you can book a table at Fusion, Europa, Paradiso and Two Oceans at African Kingdom (prices will be around R50-R100 p/p depending on the restaurant. To do that email: [email protected] for details. Or you can buy tickets from the Piazza gate at R50p/p for the Saturday and Sunday shows and R25p/p for Monday’s performance.


Things to do at the Hermanus Whale Festival


For the active


Open Water Swim

Sunday 22 September

300 metres, 750 metres and 1500 meters

Start is at 10:00 at the old Harbour


Whale Festival Night Run

Monday 23 September

6 kilometres and 10 kilometres

Only 250 runners so book early

Register at the Marine Hotel and New Harbour


Whale Festival Mountain Bike Classic

Saturday 28 September

3 km fun ride, 15 km, 30 km or 60 km route

Late registration at Curro School


Festival trail run

Saturday 28 September

3 km fun run, 6 km, 12 km or 18 km

Registration at Curro School


Whale of a Waggle Walk

Saturday 28 September

1 km and 3 km dog parades

This is a more relaxed pace walk for you and your four-legged friend

10h00 (registration from 08h00)

Hermanus cricket grounds (next to organic market)


Kids activities

There will be a lot of the kiddies to do at the festival including horse and cart rides, face painting, marine education stalls, music and magic shows. There are also different stalls with local arts and crafts in the market square. On the Saturday there is a treasure hunt, and if you can get to picnics and organized children’s activities at some of the venues around town (ask at the festival office for details).


Adults activities


The Craft Beer Project

Not only will you be educated about the brew industry, but also there will be plenty of great beer available to go with all that education. The Two Ocean’s wine chill area near the cattle baron has been setup for these purposes so get there for a place to escape the heat (if there is a blue sky day) or just put your feet up away from the crowds.


The Hermanus Whale Festival Classic bowls tournament

Info and entries: John Carrol

028 272 9898

073 489 5533

[email protected]


Whales ‘n Wheels Classic Car Show

Saturday 28 September

09h00 to 17h00

Hermanus Primary School, center of town

Gates open at 07h00 for participants.

Contact: Piet Haumann

072 4885741

[email protected]


The Flower show

St Peters Church Hall, Main road

R15.00 entrance


Boxing Tournament

Saturday 28 September

Qhayiya Secondary School

There are also several events that spill into the following weekend on Saturday, 28 September 2013 so don’t run home to quickly. Look out for a beauty pageant and a Mr and Miss African Hair design 2013 show.



How to survive the Hermanus Whale Festival

At the best of time Hermanus main town center is busy and during the festival, unless you plan to arrive at sparrows, finding parking is going to be like Indiana Jones’ search for the Holy Grail, complete with grunting, verbal acrobatics and possibly a loooooong walk. Your best bet is to arrive as early as is humanly manageable to get prime parking spaces, but don’t leave. Or take other options like using the local Tuk Tuk Transporter (just make sure you phone in advance, I have a feeling they will be very busy).

Tel +27 (0) 84-688-5885,

Or you can get some exercise while you get around by using a bicycle, which you can rent from Euodia Cycles.

Tel +27 (0) 28-316-2119, email [email protected]

If you are coming in from out of town just for the day try and draw out all the money you will need before you arrive into town. There are plenty of ATM’s in town, but there will be queus. Big ones.

Be a responsible driver and don’t go speeding around in and out of Hermanus, not only because its bad form, but there will also be lots of speeding traps and police about to stop any miscreant behavior. That goes for drinking and driving as well. There have been to many accidents lately on our roads, so be caring of others and have a good time but sleep over or get a taxi instead of driving yourself and others home.

Phone ahead for restaurant bookings and taxis. Lots of people means the chances of a walk-in seating at the more popular sit-down restaurants will be just plain lucky.

Print out this incredible Whale watching infographic to help you with your whale spotting:

Hermanus accommodation

If you’re staying overnight, be sure to book your accommodation in Hermanus early as most places fill up fast.


The Windsor Hotel, The Marine Hermanus and Arabella Hotel have package specials for the Hermanus Whale Festival that include accommodation, wine tasting and a few other tid bits. Bear in mind, Arabella is a bit of a distance from Hermanus, so if you were not planning on walking a lot this would not be the place for you.


Don’t miss

Zwelihle RDP Village (Saturday stating at 10:00 on Saturday) will be hosting a living Art Gallery demonstrating how they are transforming actual shack homes into works of art. There will apparently be wine tasting, storytelling traditional food and art.

A tour of The South African Shark Conservancy’s shark dissections and feeding, great fro the kids and adults alike.

There is the Swallow Park Carnival Parade happening on Saturday starting at 10:00

Get hold of the program of speakers for the Marine Expo, last year there were incredible talks about great white tagging, whale migration patterns and videos by a host of top South African marine experts. A definite must see, especially if you have a budding marine biologist in the family.


Where to eat in Hermanus


One of my favorites in the area with fantastic food. Book ahead they are normally busy.

Tel +27 (0) 28-316-2348



It has the best view of the sea, and unbelievable breakfasts and lunches- be aware that they are not  licensed.

Tel +27 (0) 28-312-2800,


B’s Steakhouse

For the famous steaks, a bit more expensive than others in the area but wonderful laid-back atmosphere.

Tel +27 (0) 28-316-3625


The Harbour Rock

Here you will find good seafood staples like Thai food and sushi and a wonderful view. Bring some cash to get into the harbor itself, it’s not much but if you come with nothing you won’t be let in and the nearest atm is back in town.

Tel +27 (0) 28-312-2920


More details

The full programme of events is available on their web site and from the Festival office, which is located at the first main traffic circle just before you get into the city center.

Tel +27 (0) 28-313-0928, email [email protected]



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