Remnants of a century-old apricot orchard are dotted in the gardens of heritage houses, and the central gathering spot is Kingston Frost Park, an aloe-filled piece of green with panoramic views that stretch as far as the Magaliesberg mountains. The early morning soundscape includes the muezzin's call to prayer, the rattle of the reclaimers' trolleys, and the train coming through Mayfair. To explore Brixton here's our list of some things to see and do, ranging from historical landmarks to food, art, and unique experiences.
The Brixton Light Festival
Brixton is known for its community events that range from pizza night in an alley, to movie nights on the tennis courts, to the main event of the year, the Brixton Light Festival. Expect the unexpected, the wild and the wonderful, everything from a Chinese dragon and lion dance troupe to a marching field band, top artists and fabulous installations – plus, the tower gets lights of its own. A delight! This annual event is a wonder.
Historical points of interest in BrixtonLaid out in 1912, Brixton Cemetery has a historic Hindu crematorium. The land for the crematorium was organised by Mahatma Gandhi, shortly before his departure from South Africa in 1914. It was the first brick crematorium on the continent. To visit it is well worth joining the Friends of Johannesburg Cemeteries for one of their weekend projects where they restore and clean old graves and help to preserve the rich history of Johannesburg.
Just next to Brixton is the Fietas Museum, a small museum that captures a sad part of our history of forced removals during apartheid. On the other side of the hill, in Auckland Park, is the fascinating (and top-rated) Victorian house museum, Lindfield House.
You'll find one of the remaining monuments to the working class, an iron and wood house, "Feinstein's shop", at 143 Fulham Road, with a Herbert Baker-designed Anglican church just a block away. The Dutch Reformed Church building at 67 Fulham Road was designed by Johannesburg's first practising female architect, Nelly Edwards.
The Orthodox Church of St Nicholas of Japan
Located at 156 Fulham Road, the small Orthodox Church has the silhouette of a building that belongs on a Greek island, but somehow seems perfectly at home in Brixton. It opens up like a jewellery box and contains a host of exquisite gilded icons that glitter and glisten. Church services (on Sundays between 09:30 and 11:30) attract a small and dedicated congregation, and the choir is lovely to listen to in the space. For a more detailed exploration with glorious pictures, see this piece by 2Summers.
Kingston Frost Park
Kingston Frost Park is a beautiful green space in the heart of Brixton, maintained mainly by the local volunteer Park Committee. There are routes through the park that take you to places to see grand views of Joburg from new angles, 5-a-side soccer courts that always seem to have a game on, and early morning classes with Dennis Dlomo at the outdoor gym.
The park is also home to the Shade Youth Art Programme, which offers a variety of free activities for kids in the community – from fashion design and recording their own music tracks to 3D videos and creating masks. These young people get to make everything and anything.
Take classes with renowned painter, printmaker and mosaic artist Bronwen Findlay, who offers art classes from her Brixton studio. Her most recent mosaic can be seen at the Everard Read Gallery. Get your portrait done by Chev Steve, find something reclaimed and reimagined at Shade art gallery and waste materials library, or get your hands on one of Thorsten Deckler's drawings or paintings. If you need a new look, try Frayze who upcycles bed linen to create beautiful outfits – they are really hip. For your home, you can drool over the creations from Brixton-based designers Dokter and Misses. For photographs, check out the Brixton Photo Collective (their members range from photographers who are just starting out, to professional photographer James Puttick), or the shapes and puzzles in front of Alex Opper's lens.
It's like riding a bike!
Where to eat in Brixton
Breezeblock Cafe is a cosy and welcoming café that serves excellent coffee and a simple menu. It's a great place to catch up with friends, read a book, or do some work - and you will often be able to catch a relaxed vinyl set in the courtyard, a book launch or exhibition, or one of South Africa's top musicians for an intimate concert. If you're after delicious rusks, mouthwatering apple caramel cake or ginger cookies, order these from Zietsies (they are also a great option to cater for your next party). Kia's Kitchen is a lovely spot in what was once the police station, and Kia cooks everything from traditional African cuisine to Sunday lunches.