Thousands attend colourful annual carnival in Cape Town, South Africa

SA carnival 2

Tradition. Celebration. One big extravaganza. That is the annual minstrel event, one of the highlights of South Africa’s cultural calendar.

On the 2nd of January every year, scores of minstrel groups perform and parade through the streets of Cape town to impress onlookers. Their main aim is to have fun and entertain their audience with an array of brightly-coloured costumes and big musical beats.

They started celebrating as slaves back in the 1800s. Singing and dancing on the second of January because their slave masters would not give them the day off on the first day of the new year. For some locals, like the Stellenboom family, attending this event is a decades-long family tradition. They say it’s extra-special this year, because they’ve come out to support the minstrels as a tribute to their late mother, who passed away recently.

For the spectators this is a typical Cape Town celebration, with plenty of colour and music. But for these minstrels it’s the culmination of many months of hard word, dedication and stiff competition to decide who will ultimately emerge as the top group of minstrels in the Cape.