First Garden Week Stellenbosch to lure tourists back to Cape region
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Johannesburg - In a bid to resurrect the ailing local tourism industry, a first of its kind event inspired by an acclaimed European of a similar nature, will kick off at the end of this month in the majestic Cape region.
The inaugural Garden Week Stellenbosch will encompass everything from horticultural tours to landscape art, dining to hiking, and, guest specialists to music in majestic settings, marketing manager Elmarie Rabe explained.
“South Africa’s favourite city of oaks, Stellenbosch, is pulling out all the stops for gardeners and lovers of the great outdoors in a new, week-long festival that will transform its streets and surrounding countryside,” she said.
The festival, which is an initiative of destination marketing organisation Visit Stellenbosch, will take place from September 30 to October 10.
“The time is perfect as it is not only the beginning of spring and most gardens are looking fresh and bright, we also felt it would be beneficial to our communities, guests and visitors if we could host something that will bring hope, joy and inspiration at this time,” said Rabe.
She said it would also economically benefit those within Stellenbosch and the surrounding regions.
“A garden showcase event suited Stellenbosch perfectly and the added benefit is the economic contribution it will make to our tourism and business sectors.
“We have been very mindful and deliberate to involve all tourism stakeholders in and around Stellenbosch, including those of the communities of Kayamandi, Ida’s Valley, Kylemore and Pniël,” she said.
“We expect visitors to stay over in hotels and guest houses, eat at our restaurants, visit wine farms, and spend money locally, positively impacting the entire value chain.”
While this is the first time Garden Week Stellenbosch will take place in South Africa, it is inspired by the Girona Flower Festival which is also held spring in the Spanish city.
The event has already garnered widespread public interest, with one of the biggest highlights of the festival set to be a first-ever Stellenbosch winelands experience featuring SA Michelin star chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen.
“The interest from the public and locals alike has been phenomenal and we are putting together a 10-day programme with talks, tours, workshops, and plant and flower inspired dining experiences,” Rabe added.
She said attendees will be able to explore 20 extraordinary gardens as well as the six activations placed around the town at historical sites.
The decision to host the festival in Stellenbosch, Rabe said, was because of its natural beauty as well as its short distance from the Mother City.
“Stellenbosch has extensive outdoors with developed mountain biking and hiking trails crisscrossing the vine covered hills and mountains, award winning wine region and oldest wine route in South Africa.
“It is also a culinary capital with dining offerings to suit all budgets and tastes and a solid art and culture scene.”
For this reason, the festival will also include a “Finding Eden” experience with the world-renowned Van der Westhuizen.
“This casual tête à tête will take place at Blaauwklippen Estate’s magical Cathedral and will include an exploration of the gardens in Jan Hendrik’s life,” Rabe explained.
“From Le Jardin de JAN in Nice, France, his Michelin-star restaurant’s new potager garden and picnic spot – to his new culinary playground in the Kalahari; and, how the journey is documented in JAN the Journal.”
During the festival, there will also be a seven-course Botanical Banquet prepared by JAN Innovation Studio in Cape Town, which brings the Michelin-star chef’s cuisine to the Stellenbosch winelands for the first time.
‘It’s a homecoming of sorts as this is where Jan Hendrik attended culinary school and refined his taste in wine,” said Rabe.
The meal will include elements from his award-winning establishments in France as well as in the Kalahari, at a table created by renowned floral designer Alwijn Burger and inspired by Blaauwklippen’s beautiful gardens and rare finds.
For more information on Garden Week Stellenbosch, visit https://www.visitstellenbosch.org/