There is always something happening in Joburg. Generally speaking Mondays are the only days when things are especially quiet, with many galleries, museums and restaurants closing. That does not mean the city’s pulse is dead however, in the trendy downtown Maboneng precinct, Joburg’s only independent cinema The Bioscope offers indie, arthouse and foreign-language films and African films and documentaries. Open seven days a week, regular events include Le Movie Club, a French film night on the last Thursday of every month and Classic Movie screenings on Fridays and Sundays (check their online schedule for the latest). If you enjoy cinema, also keep your eye on the schedule of the arthouse Cinema Nouveau in Rosebank Mall, which is known particularly for its regular programme of opera, ballet and theatre on the big screen showings.
In nearby hipster Braamfontein, Joburg’s leading jazz club The Orbit hosts concerts six nights a week. All the biggest names in South African jazz can be found both on stage and in the audience with icons such as Hugh Masekela and Sibongile Khumalo having graced its stage. The Orbit also hosts regular events such as the En Fuego salsa dancing night and free open mic jams on Sundays at 17:00. Joburg is busiest over the weekend with the festive atmosphere starting from as early as Thursday. The Goliath Comedy Club starts the weekend with a touch of hilarity at The Bannister Hotel while in Ellis Park, Joburg’s newest ‘social club’ The Tennis Club breathes some life into a sleepy historical neighbourhood with off-the-wall events and underground parties.
TUESDAYS & WEDNESDAYSEvery last Tuesday of the month
The Orbit hosts the excellent Science and Cocktails event. Each month a different expert explains scientific phenomena and discoveries such as ghost imaging in layman’s terms, followed by a live jazz performance and quirky themed cocktails like antiviral cocktails made with indigenous herbs. In Maboneng, the Argentinean restaurant Che Argentine Grill keeps the Argentinian tradition alive with Tango Tuesdays fortnightly, learn to tango and join in the dancing or simply enjoy the live band.
Melville’s quirky shipping container shopping mall 27 Boxes’s Night Market is a treat for shopaholics with plenty of tasty food stalls and late night shopping at the many boutique fashion and design stores selling an array of unique locally made items from small independent brands.
THURSDAYSWeekend fever hits from Thursday with art events, markets, and even slam poetry. Catch the sun and get a spot of shopping done at one of Joburg’s oldest markets, the Bryanston Organic and Natural Market every Thursday and Saturday. Featuring an excellent range of organic goods and products in a relaxed environment, browse everything from health and wellness products to preservative-free and colourant-free home-baked goods and authentic Panama hats.
Every first Thursday of the month
Look forward to contemporary art, live music, DJ sets, poetry, performance art and pop-up bars in Braamfontein and Rosebank as part of First Thursdays. In Braamfontein check out Stevenson, Kalashnikovv Gallery and Wits Art Museum for exhibition openings and in Rosebank hit up the top contemporary galleries on Art Gallery Row. At Keyes Art Mile, the street is closed off to traffic, pop-up bars and food trucks are set up and live bands perform creating a festival-like street party atmosphere
Every last Thursday of the month
In Soweto, South Africa’s most iconic township, Lebo's Soweto Backpackers celebrates the eternal African tradition of telling stories around the fire, with the Storytelling session on the last Thursday of every month. Each month has a different theme such as youth, education, freedom or tradition and the event regularly attracts well-known local activists with some incredible stories of struggle and liberation to share. Also in Soweto, catch the poetry showcase Poetic Thursdays at Soweto Theatre, featuring the best in emerging South African spoken word poetry.
FRIDAYSIn Joburg’s original jazztown Sophiatown, look out for the Sophiatown Jazz Encounters (usually on Fridays) at the museum and heritage centre Sophiatown The Mix. Drinks are bring your own and there’s a wonderfully intimate atmosphere and major South African jazz musicians on the bill.
Fridays and Saturdays
The Orbit’s Vinyl Sessions are a regular late-night party at Braamfontein's jazz club with some of Joburg’s hottest vinyl DJs. Celebrating the best sounds of the vinyl era, every week a new DJ presents an eclectic mashup of genres as diverse as old school rock n roll and classic reggae. In the predominantly Muslim neighbourhood of Fordsburg, at the bustling Friday Fordsburg Night Market you can trawl the market stalls for Bollywood films, pirated DVDs, jewellery, clothes, incense and spices. Irresistible aromas of Indian street foods fill the air with authentic samoosas, biriyanis and sizzling tikka kebabs to be found on just about every corner.
Every first Friday of the month
Indulge in late-night shopping at 44 Stanley, a charming converted 1930s industrial complex, with its First Fridays at 44 Stanley event. Browse the many boutique stores offering everything from vinyl records and vintage and contemporary fashion and accessories, to books, artworks, homewares and decor items. There’s also an excellent craft beer bar Stanley Beer Yard and regular pop up shops to enjoy.
SATURDAYSChoose between the family-friendly Bryanston Organic Market or mingle with the happening crowd at Braamfontein’s Neighbourgoods market including an ever-popular paella stand, Balkan burgers, vintage treasures and designer clothing. Love Books hosts a free storytime session for the little bookworms every Saturday morning. Suitable for kids from four to eight years old, the little ones can also join in with their parents or alternatively leave them to it and enjoy some free time to browse the excellent selection of books and have a coffee in the adjoining coffee shop.
For an active day, book an inner-city cycle tour with MainStreetWalks, leaving from Maboneng’s Curiocity Hostels explore Maboneng, Doorfontein and Troyeville with stops including a cycle through an open-air museum. Also look out for The Johannesburg Heritage Foundation's tour programme, with their diverse range of walking and bus tours led by heritage specialists which focus on the city’s history and architecture.
Every last Saturday
Rosebank's Keyes Art Mile, Joburg’s most stylish art and design hub, throws open its doors inviting you in to gallery spaces, chic stores, cafés, the uber-sophisticated Marble restaurant, and interesting bars. Enjoy a morning of artist walkabouts, exhibitions, performances, talks, screenings and book launches. There's plenty of chic places to stop for a bite or a cocktail. Alternatively in Soweto, the Soweto Art and Craft Fair displays emerging local artists, designers and craftsmen, many of which live and work from Soweto. Enjoy the chilled Soweto weekend buzz and free concerts by leading local musicians and poets while picking up local crafts and fashion at affordable prices.
SUNDAYOn Sundays Joburgers make the most of the last day of the weekend with markets, rooftop picnics and dance socials, theatre and even a braai to usher in the new week. With such hectic weekends, it’s no wonder Joburg uses Mondays to breathe before the madness begins again.
Enjoy a chilled Sunday lunch in a countryside rustic setting, far from the city hustle at the Fourways Farmers Market or head to Rosebank Sunday Market for colourful crafts and artworks with gourmet food stalls and weekly live bands. In the Sunday heartbeat of the Maboneng district Market on Main, food and design take centre stage with a selection ranging from African fusion sushi to photography artwork made by former street kids. MainStreetWalk’s Picnics in the Sky starts from the Market on Main, with visitors filling their picnic baskets with treats from the food stalls before being whisked away to the Roof of Africa. On the 50th floor enjoy an urban picnic with a view of the city skyline from 222 metres above the city streets while the MainStreetWalks guides present an entertaining talk on Joburg’s history.
Also in Maboneng, the PopArt Theatre showcases new plays by local writer every weekend, indulge in intimate theatre or tickle your funny bone with The Box, the theatre’s weekly stand-up comedy showcase on Sundays. End off the weekend with a braai at Stanley Beer Yard’s Sunday is #BraaiDay, and take advantage of specials on the beer yard’s sharing food boards that pair with their range of craft beers.
Every first Sunday of the month
The Valley – the eastern city neighbourhoods of New Doornfontein, Troyeville, Lorentzville and Bez Valley – hosts a day of edgy art exhibitions and popup events at art spaces like Art Eye Gallery and ROOM gallery in Ellis House. There's art, food and live music at Spaza Art Gallery and open artist studio events at Victoria Yards. Soweto’s Locrate Market mixes all the usual food trucks, craft beers, cool handmade items and vintage finds that weekend market aficionados love, with a distinctly Soweto buzz courtesy of local street fashion and DJs, just a stone’s throw from Vilakazi Street. Explore the lesser known neighbourhoods of Brixton, Fietas and Braamfontein Cemetery with The Roving Bantu's Heritage Trek. Stops include both obvious and hidden local landmarks such as the Brixton telecom tower, before ending back at the Roving Bantu Kitchen with a delicious three course afro soul food lunch, music performances and an art exhibition.