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Knysna Oyster Festival 2016

The best 10 days of winter for “Oyster enthusiasts, fitness fanatics and lovers of the good life”, the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival is now already in its 33rd year and is truly South Africa’s premium sports and lifestyle festival. This year the festival will take place from 1 to 10 July.

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Oysters are the spill around which everything turns and, as always, there will be plenty to go around with highlights including the Bubbly, Oysters & Chocolate Experience on the 3rd; the Oyster Shucking & Eating Competitions, and the Flavours of Knysna both on the 6th.

The festival is about so much more though. The festival had its humble beginnings in 1983 as the Knysna Winter Festival with a focus on sport.  For decades sportsmen and women from all over South Africa have been drawn to the festival for either the Knysna Cycle Tour or the Knysna Forest Marathon & Half Marathon. Now in its 7th year, these two events form part of the BIG5, or BIG5 Lite Sport Challenge. A multi-sport stage-race event, athletes compete in five pre-determined events and a points system is used to determine the winners. In the BIG5 Lite, four of the events are pre-determined but participants choose one of three other events to make up their fifth event result. Events include the Knysna Cycle Tour MTB Race, the Momentum Cape Times Knysna Forest Marathon, The Featherbed Trail Run, Knysna Dragon’s Lagoon Mile Swim and the Momentum Health OatWell DualX.

For those who would still like to partake in competitive sport but at a more leisurely pace, other sporting events include sports such as squash, canoe polo, a night trail run, golf and bowls. On the 5th, a social game of Boccia (similar to bowls or pétanque) will take place at the Knysna Primary School, an event exclusively for the disabled.

The South African Navy has been part of the festival almost since its inception. In 1988 Knysna Municipality bestowed Freedom of Entry onto the South African Navy. One of the big drawing cards on the festival program is the entry of the navy vessels through the Knysna Heads, an event that will take place on the 4th of July.

Another boat to catch would be the Paddle Cruiser from Featherbed. On the 3rd the Whiskey & Jazz Cruise is not to be missed while local opera and vocal acts will be sure to entertain during the Opera Cruise on the 7th.

With an “incredible variety of activities which is what makes it so appealing to the more than 50,000 visitors” the festival has something to offer to everyone. The Knysna Wine Festival & Night Market has gone from strength to strength every year while some of South Africa’s top comedians will have you in stitches during the Knysna Oyster Festival Shuckle.

There are many activities for the young ones as well. The Kids Pavement Art happening on the 6th is an event that promises to keep them entertained for hours while kids and adults are sure to learn something new during the Enchanted Educational Forest.

The festival has grown to include a huge charity component. Not only is the local community benefitting from the huge boost to the local economy, with events like the Pick n Pay Women’s Walk and funds being raised for anti-poaching equipment, it is a festival that is worth supporting.

Entry to the festival is free although tickets or entry fees apply to many of the events and, with a shuttle service running for the duration of the festival, you can attend as many as possible.

Please visit their website or follow them on Facebook for more information and the full festival program.

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Pictures: supplied

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