Diane de Beer

It’s festival time in Jozi. The latest on the cards is the former MTN Ayoba Festival, which has had a slight name change and is now the MTN Festival.

Held at Montecasino, and running from August 31 to October 14, it is six weeks of fun targeting the whole family with events such as the SA Tattoo, Bafunny Bafunny, singers Jonathan Butler and Johnny Clegg and theatre productions such as the much-loved Defending the Caveman and Kat and the Kings doing return seasons.

The MTN Festival will bring a breath of spring to the courtyard at the Pivot at Montecasino from August 31 to September 2, with an explosion of flavours as Tsogo Sun’s flagship entertainment property and the Southern Sun Montecasino hotel present the Spring Sauvignon Blanc festival that will showcase 76 of SA’s leading sauvignon blanc producers, including Klein Constantia, Glen Carlou, Mulderbosch Vineyards, Bouchard Finlayson and Ernie Els.

The Graeme Watkins Project will perform an unplugged session on the Saturday and The Muses on September 2. Tickets cost R120 at Computicket.

On the theatre side, Alan Committie returns with his record-breaking hit comedy Defending the Caveman, running until September 16 at the Montecasino Pieter Toerien Theatre.

The SA Tattoo, in partnership with Jacaranda FM and M-Net, steps up in the Montecasino Outdoor Event Area for the MTN Festival from September 6 to 9 with all the spectacle that’s associated with this spectacular event. They promise it will be bigger and better than before, with a combination of local and international acts featuring the popular traditional 180-piece massed pipes and drums and a demonstration of military precision.

The soloists are singer/actress Siyasanga Papu and popular local recording artist and theatre, TV and movie actor Vaughan Gardiner.

Butler returns home with his brand new show, Evolution, live at the MTN Festival on September 7 and 8. He will reunite with legendary performers Ronnie Joyce and Lionel Peterson who will perform together again after almost 35 years. This will take place at the Teatro at Montecasino stage.

Then there’s the maestro making his Montecasino debut at the Teatro on September 15 and 16. Clegg, who is touring the US and receiving rave reviews, will perform his new show that will include dance, the Soweto Gospel Choir and stunning visuals that have become standard at his shows.

Kat and the Kings, David Kramer and the late Taliep Petersen’s delightful nostalgic look-back, opens at Montecasino’s Pieter Toerien from September 21, headed by veteran actor Danny Butler and newcomer Dean Balie.

Sticking to the best sounds, the popular contemporary gospel group, MTN Joyous Celebration, will be at the Teatro at Montecasino with three performances only – on September 28, 29 and 30.

Laughter is part of the fun with Bafunny Bafunny, a star-studded team of comedians taking their bow at the Teatro at Montecasino from September 19 to 23.

You could also get your hands on a Montecasino Club Festival loyalty card and go for big with Montecasino’s Go For Big promotion giving punters a chance to win R5 million.

For the artistically inclined, there’s a four-day TheArt in the Piazza, an open-air art and lifestyle exhibition including paintings, drawings, textiles, ceramics, photography, jewellery, furniture and a selection of gifts. The exhibition takes place from September 13 to 16 on the Montecasino Piazza and entry is free.

An extension of the MTN Classic FM Soirees will be held in the ballroom at Montecasino on September 16 and 29, and on September 22 and 23, the Montecasino Outdoor Piazza will be targeting the kids with a magical transformation into Kidsland. It will provide hours of entertainment for children aged two to 12. It will include appearances by colourful characters, face-painters, buskers, magicians, carnival rides with plenty of candyfloss, ice creams and cupcakes, plus exciting give-aways and the chance to win lots of prizes. Parents are encouraged to bring their children along and let Montecasino’s child-minders take over for a while.

If food is your fancy, the Pick n Pay Taste of Joburg, in association with Orbit Sugarfree Chewing Gum, returns to the Montecasino Outdoor Event Area from September 27 to 30.

This is their sixth year and they are going all-out to attract the best and the brightest on the restaurant scene who will fashion special menus of starter-sized dishes for the occasion, including signature dishes created by chefs to specially reflect their philosophy and showcase seasonal and premium ingredients. This is your chance to see and taste the best. Tickets range from R80 to R685 and are now available at www.tickets.co.za

A Bavarian bierfest (from October 10 to 14), Absa Boktown (September 29 to October 6) for die-hard Springboks fans, or the movies, with mega discounts, are all part of this party. Restaurants in the complex also step up with huge discounts at special times.

The MTN Festival events and entertainment run throughout the week, but pick up from Thursdays to Sundays. There is no entry or general access fee for the MTN Festival. Bookings for select ticketed events through either www.computicket.co.za or www.tickets.co.za

Standard parking tariffs and entry fees to venues such as the Montecasino Bird Gardens apply.

• For full details on these and all other fun-filled events and entertainment options happening as part of the MTN Festival, visit www.montecasino.co.za