The Garden Route’s biggest annual event, the Knysna Oyster Festival, is also the town’s longest running event and brings thousands of visitors to the greater Knysna area every year.
It was initiated in 1983 as the Knysna Winter Festival to attract visitors during the off-season and has grown since then into an exciting 10-day family-friendly celebration of sport and the good life.
The festival takes place every June/July and is organised by local residents. A charity component ensures that each event allocates a percentage of funds raised to a local charity.
The Knysna Cycle Tour
The Oyster Festival kicks off every year with the Knysna Cycle Tour, an enthralling weekend of cycling for the whole family, with mountain bike races on the first day, and road races and the Children’s Fun Ride on the second day. The routes are exciting, challenging and very scenic, showcasing the natural beauty of the area.
The races start and finish on the Festival Grounds in central Knysna where food and craft stalls, a beer tent and kiddies entertainment provide a festive atmosphere.
The Knysna Forest Marathon
The second iconic event is the Knysna Forest Marathon on the last Saturday of the festival. It is known for its unique early morning start deep in the Knysna Forest which inspires a special comradery amongst the runners. There is a 21 km and a 42 km option, so runners can choose the distance that best suits their fitness and training. There are usually a number of fun, celebratory parties for runners to attend after the race.
10 days of entertainment
Between the two major sporting events, a host of other sport and lifestyle events are planned to keep festival goers enthralled and entertained. Hikes and trail runs through the forest, a swim in the Knysna Lagoon, a trail run through the exquisite Featherbed Nature Reserve, a paddle race to The Heads, a colour run, canoe polo, rugby, soccer and netball tournaments are all on the extensive programme, not forgetting a wine festival, live music concerts and events celebrating the local mollusc which gives the festival its name.
And oysters, of course ...
Restaurants in and around Knysna provide plenty of opportunity to taste oysters and many have a programme of live music and entertainment over the 10-day period. Local tourism companies also offer visitors the chance to explore the area with ferry rides across the lagoon, boat rides (link to boat excursions) through The Heads, township tours and tours of the town, and a variety of activities in the forest.
In 2020 due to Covid-19 the Oyster Festival became a virtual festival. The success of this event has prompted the organisers to host a hybrid event in 2021, a combination of a “live” in-person event with a virtual online component, giving festival goers the opportunity to explore the greater Knysna area and all that it has to offer in person or remotely from the comfort of their homes.
Provisional dates for the 2021 Knysna Oyster Festival are 2 to 11 July.The full festival programme will be available on the official festival website. You can also follow the festival Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts for regular updates and information.
Book your accommodation (link to Stay) in advance and we’ll see you in Knysna for the best 10 days of your winter!