There’s a lot to enjoy in Pietermaritzburg

Mel Veness1

When I say that I am from Pietermaritzburg, Durbanites generally offer one of two responses. They either nod knowingly with a half derisive smile, as if I’ve just said that I’m from “Hicksville”, or they say something like: “Did you drive all the way here today?” as if the city is 500km away.

I find it quite amusing, because I was born in Durban and lived there before moving to Pietermaritzburg some years ago, and I shared a similar attitude.

To say that I was less than enthusiastic about my family’s relocation is a bit of an under-statement, but having lived in Pietermaritzburg for many years now, I know that those perceptions are unjustified, and that they should be challenged.

It’s a bit tricky to do that, however, without coming across as defensive, so I’m just going to say that the capital city of our province is a mere 45 minutes away along the highway, and then I’m going to challenge you to come have a look for yourselves.

Sure, there is a good helping of wholesome country flavour, but a whole lot of city to go with that. And we are not short of things to do.

Pietermaritzburg is gearing up for a busy time in the next couple of weeks, with a host of top events set to take place in the city.

The Royal Agricultural Show, proudly 161 years old this year, begins on Friday. The annual extravaganza boast the traditional agricultural displays, but, as usual, also offers a wide range of entertainment activities for young and old.

Personal favourites include the Lipizzaner performance (to Bella Vocé Africa this year) and the displays in The Mercury Festival of Fine Living hall. I am looking forward to the new high-wire acrobatic act and the aerobatic display. I will definitely attend the Mango Groove concert and might even be found on the rides at the funfair.

On Saturday the city will play host to horse-racing enthusiasts from around the country at its premier horse-racing event, the Golden Horse Sprint. The fashion will be fabulous and the racing spectacular. All that is needed for an exceptional day’s entertainment is a hat and a sense of fun.

Starting next Wednesday is a special event on the city’s calendar, Nashua Art in the Park. Set in an avenue of plane trees in Alexander Park, the event offers the perfect backdrop to display some of SA’s finest artistic works.

What could be better than wading through the crackling leaves in “nature’s gallery”, sipping sherry and chatting to the artists next to crackling fires with live music playing in the background? Celebrating 50 years since its inception, the event promises to be extra-special.

Then on June 2 is one of KZN’s and SA’s mainstay sporting events – the world-renowned Comrades Marathon that starts in Pietermaritzburg this year.

So, if you have a sense of adventure and you’re up for the challenge, I’ll see you in Pietermaritzburg soon for one of these events.


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