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Kirstenbosch Rotary - CAROLS AT KIRSTENBOSCH in Kirstenbosch Gardens

CAROLS AT KIRSTENBOSCH in Kirstenbosch Gardens

Tentative Dates for 2016 are:      15, 16, 17, 18 December 2016

Think of a beautiful garden setting, in glow stick light and the melodious sound of Christmas Carols and you will have an inkling of how fabulously festive Carols at Kirstenbosch will be. Your family and friends must plan to attend this event in December 2016.

The Rotary Club of Kirstenbosch has just completed their 26th year of running their highly successful project Cape Town Carols at Kirstenbosch.  It all started in 1968 when the then Executive Director of Kirstenbosch Gardens, Prof Kobus Eloff, who was a member of the Rotary Club of Kirstenbosch, announced that the Gardens were having to become more self-sufficient.  The club came up with the idea of holding a Carols by Candlelight in the Gardens.  Kirstenbosch Gardens at that stage was not geared up for such public events and it took some hard persuasion by Prof Eloff  to convince the relevant bodies that the Gardens would not suffer damage.  The first Carols by Candlelight was held in December 1989 and the success of these early events over the next few years paved the way for the Botanical Society to introduce the first of the now extremely popular Summer Sunset Concerts held annually at Kirstenbosch Gardens as a fund raiser for the Gardens.

The actors in the nativity were initially all children of Rotarians, but later Rotarians themselves as well as friends and their families took on roles. The venue was different from where the current Concert lawn is now - there was no stage and “backstage” was behind a few bushes and trees.  Prof. Eloff himself opened the first Carols by Candlelight and the evening came to an abrupt end when it emerged that nobody had arranged for the Gardens to turn off the automatic irrigation system. Fortunately this only dampened the spirits of those remaining picnickers still sitting on the lawn after the event.

Initially held over two nights, the present Cape Town Carols at Kirstenbosch runs over four consecutive evenings and has evolved into a major attraction both locally and for overseas tourists. Patrons start entering the Gardens as early as 3:30 pm  and from around 7:00pm are entertained by a variety of bands and acts as they wait for sufficient darkness to arrive at 8:00 pm for the main event to start.  Audience numbers now reach as high as 20 000 over the four nights.  Kirstenbosch Rotary Club is extremely grateful to the various sponsors of Carols over the years which have included Old Mutual and currently Pick n Pay.

For the first fifteen years, the Rotarians themselves packed the candles and songsheets, marshalled the traffic at the Gardens, sold the tickets, erected lighting so that the visitors could find their way out in the dark at the end of the performances, cleaned up after the show, and picked up cigarette butts and cleaned wax off the paving early the next morning so that the Gardens were in pristine condition on opening to the public.  The attendance at Carols has grown from 1 000 per night to about 7 000 on final night, but the Gardens has now limited attendance to a maximum of 5 500 people per night.  The majority of tickets are pre-sold on the web, no smoking is permitted, and glowsticks have replaced candles due to fire regulations.  All the tickets for the final night in 2015 were sold out over one week before the event.

Penned by President Vyv Deacon


January 2016