Joburg Itinerary: Unusual things you can do in the mall

26 Jul 2023
Joburg is wall-to-wall mall. And while that may make a whole lot of people uncomfortable – we're here to let you know that Joburg's malls are full of surprises, and cultural attractions. The truth is that these shopping havens not only boast an array of stores and trendy boutiques, but also offer safe and inviting public spaces that the city may not always manage to provide. From ice-skating to go-karting, art fairs to market days, Joburg's malls have a few surprises up their sleeves. 

A premier antique fair at Nelson Mandela Square

Search for treasures at Joburg's antique fairs. Photo: Antique Fairs via Facebook. 

If you have a penchant for all things vintage and a love for uncovering unique treasures, the monthly Nelson Mandela Square Antique Fair is a must-visit destination in Johannesburg. The fairs offer an enchanting experience for antique enthusiasts, attracting top collectors and dealers from Gauteng. From exquisite furniture and homeware to captivating decorative arts and collectable memorabilia, whether you're a seasoned collector or just looking to indulge in some browsing, you won't be disappointed. The Nelson Mandela Square Antique Fair takes place on the first Sunday of the month.  

Art at Hyde Park Corner

Mosaic by Armando Baldinelli. Photo: Kathy Munro via The Heritage Portal. 

Hyde Park Corner is a swanky mall that features cherished permanent art, like Cecil Skotnes's graffito carving, a ceiling poetry installation by Willem Boshoff, and a mosaic fountain by Simon Stone. If you're heading to a movie at Nu Metro, you can also enjoy Armando Baldinelli's monumental mosaic in the foyer. The mall consistently supports the arts, is the location of  Graham Modern & Contemporary Gallery and is the new home of the Turbine Art Fair that takes place annually in  July (read about 10 artists to see at TAF23 here). 

A night out at Cracker Zacs in Rosebank 

A fun and unique night out at Cracker Zac's. Photo: Cracker Zac's. 

A hidden attraction at The Zone @ RosebankCracker Zac’s offers an authentic arcade experience in an upscale bar with beer on tap and much more. This exclusive arcade has been causing quite a stir on social media, attracting over-21s to sip on cocktails and enjoy a night out with friends with hyper-bowling, Augmented Reality darts, and cool retro arcade games.

Gone fishing at Cresta Shopping Centre 

Watery wonders at Cresta Shopping Centre. Photo: Pareto. 
Who knew you could have an underwater adventure and support marine conservation in Cresta, of all places? The CrestAquarium at Cresta Shopping Centre was launched in 2019, and the mall's marine exhibit offers a unique opportunity to get close to 32 carefully chosen exotic reef fish from the Indo-Pacific region. From vibrant tropical creatures to intriguing marine species, experience the beauty of the ocean to your doorstep.

Indoor go-karting at Eastgate 

Test your need for speed. Photo: IndyKart Indoor Go Karting via Facebook. 

This go-karting track located at the undercover parking of mega-mall Eastgate Shopping Centre is the largest indoor go-karting track in South Africa, with five other tracks across Joburg. IndyKart Indoor Go Karting offers a 475-metre track with 14 imported Sodi RT8 go karts. The adventurous will love this – the track boasts different technical corners and tricks making it perfect for drivers of any skill level. Great for celebrating birthday, special event get-togethers or corporate team building. 

Ice-skating at Festival Mall in Kempton Park

The Ice Rink at Festival Mall. Photo: Festival Mall. 

Technically not in Joburg, but close enough for us to claim it. After all, our international airport, O.R. Tambo, is also in Kempton Park, and most people think they are landing in Johannesburg. The Ice Rink at Festival Mall is an ice-skating rink designed for beginners and seasoned skaters alike. If you want to learn how to skate like a pro, then enrol at the affiliated Academy (incidentally, also located at a mall – namely, Randburg's Northgate Shopping Centre). 

Slide into Sandton City

Hamley's Sandton Photo: Johannesburg In Your Pocket.
Take a trip downstairs via the red door at Sandton City. Photo: Johannesburg In Your Pocket. 

It's not unusual to see adults trying to sneak their way into the big red slide to Hamleys toy store from the second level of Sandton City. Starting from the top floor, you'll slide down into a wonderland of fun and awe-inspiring toys, bringing out the child in everyone who takes the plunge. You can also take a trip through the mall on the Hamleys train at their Sandton, Eastgate, Fourways and Rosebank locations. 

Fashion in focus at Mall of Africa in Midrand

Fashion galore in the mall. Photo: Mall of Africa via Facebook.

Mall of Africa's regular Fashion Weekend Out is a celebration of all things beauty, hair and fashion. Here you can deep-dive into the latest trends with workshops on everything from why earthy tones are making a comeback to how to power dress. Mall of Africa is also the home of SA Fashion Week (SAFW), which hosts shows and pop-up events here. The Autumn/Winter 2024 edition of SAFW will take over the mall from Thu, Oct 19 – Sat, Oct 21 showcasing the collections of renowned designers and emerging talents, and offering a glimpse into the future of fashion trends.

The market meets the mall in Rosebank

Rosebank Art and Craft Market. Photo: Justin Lee for Johannesburg In Your Pocket. 

Discover a hidden gem at the daily Rosebank Art and Craft Market nestled underground, next to the Rosebank Mall entrance. This market is a treasure trove for African souvenir shopping in Johannesburg. Embracing the motto: "This is Africa. We Bargain," traders here encourage friendly bartering. For a leisurely weekend shopping experience, head to the Rosebank Sunday Market on the mall's covered rooftop. Here, you'll find a colourful array of unique gifts, street food stalls, homemade deli items, local fashion, thrift shopping, and antique bric-a-brac. With a variety of talented artists showcasing their work, from steel to beads, wood, and paper, this market is a friendly destination for finding one-of-a-kind gifts.


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