The Riebeek Valley Olive Festival has to be one of my favourite food festivals on the Cape calendar.  This may have something to do with the fact that I’m rather obsessed with olives, but I think even if I wasn’t olive-crazy I’d still enjoy it immensely.  What I love (aside from the olives, of course) is that the festival meanders through the towns of both Riebeek Kasteel and Riebeek West – there are stalls and activities and entertainments in both.  That means crowding isn’t such a big issue, and you get to spend time outdoors in between visiting the various hotspots.

There’s oodles of wine to taste, quirky shops to visit, markets to explore – and of course loads of special festivities to keep visitors entertained.  And the valley is so beautiful at this time of year, vines usually ablaze with autumn colours, crisp breeze keeping the air clear – it’s glorious.

Dates & Times
This year’s festival runs over the weekend of 5-6 May 2012. Times vary widely, depending on the activity (most of it happening between 10am and 4pm, both days – with some evening activities planned).

Getting there & accommodation
Accommodation is probably hard to find now, but it’s only a bit over an hour’s drive from Cape Town out to the Riebeek Valley, and well worth the trip.  Or, you could try to find a place to stay in a nearby town, if need be – and make a weekend of it.  Another option available this year is a special shuttle bus, running from Cape Town to Riebeek Kasteel (and back) on both Saturday and Sunday.  The shuttle costs R100, which works out cheaper than accommodation, so might be well worth it if you’re wanting to sample more wines and avoid driving.

The programme
This year’s festival programme looks great – with guided olive walks, olive-oil-tastings, wine-tastings and the dubious pleasure of witnessing some Olive Festival staples: olive oil wrestling and olive pip spitting (hoohah!).  Some new highlights this year are an Olive Emporium, a micro-brewery and a fresh goods market.

The Olive Passport
The Olive Passport costs R80 (buy here or at ticket marquees on the day) and is valid for the entire weekend, allowing you entrance to 7 of Riebeek’s top farm experiences:

  1. Het Vlock Casteel
  2. Riebeek Cellars
  3. Pulpit Rock
  4. Kloovenburg
  5. Cafe Felix
  6. The Royal Hotel
  7. The Riebeek West Funky Fresh Market

The Olive Passport includes a tasting glass and free tastings of olives or wine at the above 7 locations. It also gives you one free ride on the tractor transport (after that it’s R5 per ride, proceeds going to a local charity).

Follow @RVOliveFestival on Twitter for updates – or visit for more info.

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