A bucket list is a personally curated roster of experiences or achievements someone hopes to realise in their lifetime. Essentially a “do before you die” list. For some, this list might include a journey to the summit of Mount Everest, to see the Mayan ruins, sail the seven seas or skydive over Dubai. These are all very noble and may require lots of preparation, forethought and saving, but what about now? How about ticking something off the list spontaneously, rather easily, and yet equally as memorable?
How about a live music concert at the foot of the mighty Table Mountain?
Blessed are us Namibians to be the humble neighbours of South Africa. Because while our quaint population has drawn the likes of Rodrigues and UB40, the majority of big-name artists skip over Namibia and tour to our downstairs neighbour, offering substantially larger audiences, far more frequently. And how lucky are we that Cape Town is only a hop, skip and a flight away with FlyNamibia.
When news broke that the US alternative band Rainbow Kitten Surprise would include two South African dates on their next tour, a flock of fans (myself included) flurried to purchase tickets. Within two weeks of announcing the Cape Town show, over 6,000 tickets had been sold out. Undoubtedly the best part of the announcement, other than the name of the band who are best known for their platinum song It’s Called: Freefall, was the mention of the venue: Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
One of the world’s largest botanical gardens at 528 hectares, Kirstenbosch lies on the eastern slope of Table Mountain. Meandering footpaths lead through the host of endemic and indigenous plants ranging from medicinal to perfume species, with the odd bench under a Cape Blackwood tree as well as the photogenic tree canopy walkway. Should the outlook of a live music concert be amiss, a lengthy wander through the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is a great (and cost-effective) activity when visiting the Mother City.
Apart from the extensive Afromontane Forest, Kirstenbosch also features a sprawling lawn at the northern end of the gardens. This gradually sloping grassplot descends onto an impressive outdoor stage, where picnic blankets are scattered about, wine and snacks are savoured and the live concerts take place. If you are eager to experience this outdoor musical wonderland for yourself (and you really should), local acts like Jeremy Loops, Mango Groove and Desmond and the Tutus regularly perform at the Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts, an annual series of live music shows in the gardens that have been running for 30 years between the months of November and March.
Sure, stadium concerts foster a sense of awe for the magnitude of crowds, and perhaps the sound is more amplified, but nothing compares to the atmosphere of a concert at Kirstenbosch. To your left stands the beguiling Table Mountain in a halo of sunshine and wispy clouds. At the centre is a world class stage imitating the shape of an eye, strobe-lit and peering into a crowd of music lovers. And then, after sunset, the twinkling yellow lights of a cosmopolitan city appear on the right. All this wonder – the air filled with instruments and raspy voices singing along, surrounded by lush gardens and nature, your favourite band playing the songs you love – is reason enough for a concert at Kirstenbosch to be on your bucket list.