On the First Thursdays of every month art galleries and other cultural attractions stay open till late in Cape Town for free cultural experiences. It starts at 5:00 pm and ends around 9:00 pm but the streets, bars and clubs are always busy late into the night.
One of the advantages is that the participating galleries and bars are mostly close to each other; the night is focused on exploring the city on foot.
On the First Thursdays’ website you can discover the participating galleries and other attractions. They have it all laid out in a map you can follow and also there is a brief description of all the venues.
The idea is originally from London and its purpose is to encourage all people to visit art galleries and museums; the concept started in 2012 in Cape Town and you can also find it in Johannesburg.
a. Start Exploring
At the beginning of your evening grab a map at your first stop (any of the participating galleries) to plan your route. You will be able to visit more or less six galleries in the order that you prefer but they will be marked with numbers on the map so you can follow the easiest and shortest route.
There is also the possibility to download the map from the official website. It will have brief descriptions of the places that you can visit and will look like this:
To give you a more detailed idea of the evening that you can experience, I will give you a short summary of the six venues I visited, in almost all of them there was wine, champagne and snacks offered for free, which made our evening more relaxed and fun.
1. Artists Proof Studio
At the Artists Proof Studio I saw an amazing rage of limited edition handmade prints and also a preview of some latest editions on sale. The art here was wonderful and diversified with a lot of black and white pictures but also colorful works.
Read more about Artists Proof Studio on the official website.
2. The Architect Gallery
Here I got an insight into the history of the world-famous firm SAOTA that is based in Cape Town. They showed their amazing architecture from all over the world and I saw a lot of pictures and models of magnificent buildings.
Read more about SAOTA on its official website.
Although this was a small gallery it had very big colorful pictures and a sculpture that looked really interesting, they made the visit worth.
Read more about Ebony/Curated on its official website.
4. The South African Sendinggestig Museum
The new Emerging Artists initiative launched by the City of Cape Town is a brilliant movement that aims to assist under-resourced emerging artists based in Cape Town. In the South African Sendinggesting Museum there were a lot of paintings and also I was able to see an artist painting during my visit.
Read more about the Emerging Artists initiative here.
5. Worldart Gallery
The Worldart Gallery displayed amazing photographs by Jasmin Valcarcel expressing the challenges and complexities she faces as a woman of color.
Read more about the Worldart Gallery on the official website.
6. Church Square
I was also able to see an exciting, moving performance by young visual artists aged 21 to 35; which started on Bree Street and moved through the city reaching Church Square.
b. Visit other venues
I recommend you that depending on your time, try to visit other participating venues in the program. In the official website you’ll find all the ones that are participating grouped in 3 categories, I’ll mention here come examples of what you can find:
I recommend you to:
- Download the map from the official website before you go.
- Save the addresses of all the venues in Google maps so you quickly go to each one and don’t get lost between the streets.
- Start early at 5pm to enjoy all the venues (time flies and I finished just at 9:00 pm when the last concert finished).
- Choose a restaurant or bar at the end of the night to celebrate the day with some more drinks and food.
The First Thursday of every month should be marked in the calendar by tourists and locals in Cape Town. It is an amazing concept and not only art-lovers will enjoy it but everyone.
There is a very nice atmosphere in the city with all these people strolling through the streets, sitting in restaurants and bars or going over the market at St Georges Mall.