12 best places to enjoy in South Africa when the sun sets this festive season

Although this year is going to be slightly different with masks on and Covid-19 lurking on every corner, the club scene remains a festive favourite and worth a night out with friends or colleagues.

With the silly season upon us, you can’t avoid the boom-box banter of office workers at their year-end parties.

There seems to be a dwindling in South Africa’s once-thriving nightclub scene, with industry players believin it’s a generational thing, with millennials (aged between 22 and 37) having the biggest impact.

A US study published in Urban Land magazine, which observed the social and buying power of millennials in America, shows this generation aren’t frequenting nightclubs the way the preceding Gen Y did.

“Slightly more than 60% of millennials go out to clubs and among those who do, only 25% do so more than once a month,” according to the study.

Top five global nightlife trends

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And the situation is not uniquely American.

“There may not be the same urgency to get into clubs as there was with previous generations, who looked forward to their 18th birthday because they’d finally be allowed into a club but the need is still there,” Tadeu Andre, 23, a Johannesburg-based electronic artist and DJ told The Citizen.

While acknowledging the accuracy of the study, Andre says there is still an attraction to clubs. “Once people get into clubs, particularly clubs which allow for true freedom of expression, they find it hard to not want to go back.”

Olwee, a popular local events DJ and TV personality (and a millennial), feels clubs are not really a thing for his generation. “We go … on special occasions. But even then it’s a drag because it’s the same thing.”

He added what’s popular is experiences: a theme, a strange place, a fun crowd.

Andre says it’s important that today’s generation feel free to explore and experiment with their sexuality and culture, “to have spaces … to be yourself”.

In South Africa there’s an apparent shift to monthly, seasonal and more memorable events. That said, the club scene is still a festive favourite and worth a night out with friends or colleagues.

12 Best Places To Enjoy South Africa Nightlife

South Africa is known for its crazy spirit! The party, food, music and people make the South African nightlife worth experiencing. So here are our top 10 picks of must try nightlife experiences when you’re visiting South Africa.

1. Long Street, Cape Town

Long Street

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As the name suggests, this street has a range of social and cultural events highlighting every evening for revellers. Check out the Waiting Room or the Honest Chocolate on the street and keep a sharp eye out for hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. You might also want to keep a sharp eye on your purse as well as keep trusted company in the alleys of this street. Overall, the limelight truly shines on Long Street.

2. Capital Craft, Pretoria

Capital Craft

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Craft beers certainly come of age at the adorable outdoor setting of Capital Craft. Designed to complement the dishes served, each craft beer is a wonder. Sampling the food and drinks on the extended wooden tables in the garden makes it all the more refreshing. You get to
learn a lot about the craft beers of South Africa and also sample the aromas that each bears and how it is cleverly paired with a dish of your choice. Feel free to throw a challenge to the staff and prepare to be amazed!

3. Aces N’ Spades, Cape Town

Aces N’ Spades

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Located just off the hotspot Long Street, this music joint is ideal to bring out the rockstar in you, for free! Wednesday are reserved for karaoke where you can out your skills in rock music to the test with the locals. Be warned, they are very good! It’s a great place to sit back and relax or go all in and head bang to your favourite tracks as the night deepens, and experience the best of nightlife in Cape Town, South Africa.

4. Brampton Wine Studio, Near Stellenbosch

Brampton Wine Studio

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Calling all wine-lovers to sample the exquisite Brampton wines, especially the Shiraz and the Roxton, at this quaint studio. The staff will not just see you through their eclectic collection of local wines, which are reasonably priced but also share local information you might find useful. It is a great place to disconnect from the outer world and soak in the wonders of the spirit and fuel great conversation. The bar closes at 9 in the evening so you must make the most of the evening.

5. Wild About Whisky, Dullstroom

Wild About Whisky

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The name says it all. Not quite! With over 1,200 kinds of whisky to be sampled from 20 countries, there’s really a lot to cover in a single night and many favourites to be discovered. And that’s not all! You have frequent gin and rum tasting sessions to get you into the spirit of a fantastic evening. Patience is a key virtue and whisky lovers are known to have plenty of it. If you do not seek to gulp and vroom, then this is the ideal location to spend an entire afternoon and better part of a night relishing the many shades of moonshine.

6. Alexander Bar, Café and Theatre, Cape Town Central

Alexander Bar

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Old school is the best-suited school for some, and at this joint you’ll feel quite taken through a time capsule. Order your drinks on old telephones or head upstairs to witness one of the finest acts in town, as this bar has much to cater to your cultural palate. The daily specials are surely something worth watching out for as are the light meals served by the kitchen until midnight. This is amongst the best South Africa night clubs and there is no doubt about it.

7. Mad Giant, Johannesburg

Mad Giant

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An inspired setting as well as the finest craft beers make this truly the talk of the town. The craft beers served here are customised as per your desire and served with an incredible array of Asian-inspired food pairings. Truly a class apart, the Mad Giant also offers a visit to their brewery where you can learn about their take on brewing beers as well as sample them for a modest price.

8. Orphanage, Cape Town

Orphanage

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Don’t go by the morbid name, the delights of mixology await within the walls of this celebrated joint. You can choose to sit outside beneath the trees, if you’d like to take in the street setting while relishing a brew of your favourite spirit with peanut butter! There’s a lot of exciting mixes to be sampled but surely not for the faint-hearted. The name reflects on your bill, a portion of which is donated to a children’s home in Athlone.

9. Mooteebar, Johannesburg

Mooteebar

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If you have a thirst for something more local, yet exotic then this is the best place to be. Inspired by the South African medicines used traditionally to heal the people, this bar served a variety of cocktails in interesting packaging like brown paper bags and ceramic cups. Designed to suit each drinker’s taste, it feels like a customised prescription to elevate the soul and inspire well-being.

10. Tiger’s Milk, Southern Peninsula

Tiger’s Milk

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The perfect blend of indoors and outdoors, this all day diner is a must visit after dark as well! While it offers a fantastic view of the Muizenberg Beach all day, the evening highlights its rugged décor with its brick walls and a motorbike! Pick a spot on one of the long bars and join in the conversation with surfers and athletes who are regulars at this joint. The food is delightfully crafted and the spirits will keep you stated as the conversations flow.

11. Joe Cool’s, Durban

crowd enjoying in joe's

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One of the best places for witnessing the nightlife in Durban, South Africa, Joe Cool’s is a happening beach bar situated on Marine Parade. Whether you’re a crazy party person or some who embraces the laid-back ambiance, this bar club is perfect for you to let your hair down or have a hearty conversation with your loved ones.

12. Muse Champagne Room, Johannesburg

chic restaurant in johannesburg

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If you’re looking for a chic and not a hip place, look no further. Muse Champagne Room is a perfect and really trendy hotspot situated in Fairlawn’s Boutique Hotel that boasts a top-notch French-inspired ‘Casse-Croûte’ menu of appetizers that will surely delight your senses. We’re pretty sure that you’d have a memorable evening at this fancy place.

Main Image: Cape Town UA Tourism