Staycations are rising in popularity because they’re low on stress, high on cost savings, and they definitely don’t have to be dull. If you live in Gauteng and you’re not heading to the coast this December, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s loads to get up to in the province. From outdoor experiences to exciting events to simply enjoying the traffic-free streets and gloriously empty parking lots, restaurants and bars – here are some activities to help you make the most of your home city these holidays.
- Soak up the lights
There’s nothing quite as festive as a bunch of multicoloured twinkling lights. Head to Melrose Arch from 24 November to see some dazzling light displays and enjoy family entertainment such as The Drakensberg Boys Choir. Snack on some candy floss, popcorn or something more substantial, while browsing the market to shop for your festive gifts.
Joburg Zoo will also be putting on their annual light festival featuring illuminated life-size animals, open from 7-10pm Thursday to Sunday from 1 December. If you’re in Pretoria, it’s a time-honoured tradition by the residents of Lawley Street in Waterkloof to put up their own light displays, so take the family to see them – or head to Liggiefees and support the Jakaranda Children’s Home as you experience their magical lights and a fun carnival.
- Get active
There’s a lot of feasting and merriment that goes on over this time of year, so it’s important to also prioritise being active, to balance out those indulgences and keep healthy over this time. How about a hike? Try Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve where you can spot zebra and wildebeest, or hike the Hennops trails on the doorsteps of both Joburg and Pretoria where you’ll cross rivers via suspension bridges, plus spot historic sights and enjoy varied birdlife.
You could also navigate ziplines and aerial obstacle courses on an Acrobranch canopy tour in a variety of locations across Gauteng, or try your hand at Adventure Golf in Randburg or other locations. Another way to safeguard your health is to ensure that you have comprehensive medical aid cover (such as with Fedhealth) for your family in place, should anything go wrong, over the festive season or another time of year.
- Enjoy the great outdoors
There’s no better climate than Gauteng in December with its warm, still summer days, punctuated only by dramatic afternoon thunderstorms that makes for beautifully lush gardens and parks. Make the most of this perfect weather by enjoying time outdoors at home, or venture to one of the outdoor events happening in your area.
If you have young children, Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden in Roodepoort is hosting Christmas Town from 15th December, where you can take your kids to experience candy cane hunting, gingerbread decoration and meet Santa’s various characters while you enjoy a craft market and a variety of festive food.
At Orange Farm, Sekgome resort is hosting A Day In The Garden Family Picnic on 16th December, where you can enjoy swimming pools, braai facilities, live entertainment, DJs, magicians, food stalls and more.
- Get into the festive spirit
There’s something special about celebrating the season as a community – and singing together is a great way to do this. On December 6th is the annual Spar Carols by Candlelight presented by Jacaranda FM at the Sunbet Arena Time Square in Pretoria, where you can enjoy a variety of top South African artists along with the Soweto Gospel Choir for an evening of music and celebration. The Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens will be hosting carol singing on 8th December where you can bring along your picnic basket and camping chair and enjoy wonderful family time with others.
If you enjoy a Christmas market, the town of Cullinan, East of Pretoria ,will be hosting the Cullinan Christmas Night Market from 15th to 17th December, where you can shop for homemade gifts, arts and crafts and other Christmas goodies. And then for something totally different, there’s the Vegan Hippy XMAS Market at Pirates Sports Club in Greenside on 10th December.
There’s loads to keep you occupied in Gauteng this December, and while you may be staying home this festive season, chances are you’ll still be driving – and road accidents are an unfortunate reality at this time of year. Remember to stay safe on the roads: don’t drink and drive and rather take a taxi or Uber if you’ll be getting into the festive spirit. This way you can enjoy this special time of year with your family in your hometown, and really explore all that your unique province has to offer.