First Thursdays is a monthly cultural experience centred around a walkable programme of art galleries, retail stores, restaurants and bars, taking place in both Cape Town and Johannesburg.
First Thursdays was started by Thursdays Projects in Cape Town in 2012, expanding to Johannesburg in 2015. Thursdays Projects coordinates the initiative, promotes each month’s programme, and produces special cultural experiences with aligned partners.
On the first Thursday of every month, arts and culture in Cape Town has a late night, with dozens of art galleries and cultural events showcasing the wealth of talent that the Mother City has on offer.
First Thursdays is more than just an evening of art. Yes, the galleries are the big draw, but as the sun sets on the city, the bars and restaurants join in, while the locals spill out onto the streets, creating an electric vibe, drawing on the heady mix of local arts and culture and food and drink.
Visitors can start off in Long, Loop or Bree Street with a drink at any one of the popular bars, before browsing the galleries around the city centre – many of which provide visitors with refreshments – and finally settle in at one of the Mother City’s restaurants for a sumptuous meal.
Arts, culture, food and drink – a perfect night out.
A highlight of First Thursdays Cape Town is the opportunity to immerse oneself in the city’s thriving art scene. Cape Town is known for its diverse and vibrant artistic expressions, ranging from contemporary art to traditional African sculptures. During First Thursdays, participating galleries showcase an eclectic mix of artwork, providing visitors with an inspiring visual feast. The renowned Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa MOCAA in the Silo District is a must-visit destination. Housed in a repurposed grain silo, this contemporary art museum boasts an extensive collection that showcases the works of African artists. From thought-provoking installations to captivating paintings and sculptures, MOCAA offers a unique window into the African art world.
In addition to MOCAA, the Woodstock Exchange stands out as a bustling hub of creativity during First Thursdays. This vibrant space houses a curated selection of galleries, boutiques, and design studios. Visitors can explore cutting-edge contemporary art, innovative fashion, and unique home décor pieces, all while interacting with local artists and designers. The atmosphere in Woodstock is electric, with live performances, street art, and captivating exhibitions contributing to an unforgettable artistic experience for all.
First Thursdays not only offers a visual and culinary feast but also a vibrant live music scene. As the evening unfolds, the city comes alive with captivating melodies and infectious rhythms. Throughout the participating venues of First Thursdays, visitors can enjoy a diverse range of musical performances, adding an extra layer of excitement to the event.
From jazz and blues to contemporary beats, Cape Town’s music scene is rich and eclectic. Local bands and musicians take the stage, showcasing the city’s talent and creative energy. Street performers also contribute to the festive atmosphere, filling the air with melodic tunes as visitors explore the neighbourhoods.
First Thursdays is not just about art, Cape Town’s food scene is renowned for its diversity, influenced by the city’s multicultural heritage and the bountiful offerings of the surrounding landscapes. During First Thursdays, visitors can embark on a food and drink adventure, sampling a wide array of flavours and culinary creations. Long Street, an iconic destination in Cape Town, comes alive with an array of eateries offering traditional South African cuisine, international fusion, and everything in between. Indulge in the flavours of bobotie, a fragrant minced meat dish with a creamy topping, or savour a gourmet burger accompanied by locally brewed craft beer or find a club that’s serving up cocktails and great music.
For a unique dining experience, head to the Old Biscuit Mill in the trendy neighbourhood of Woodstock. This vibrant food and design market hosts an array of artisanal food stalls, offering a diverse range of dishes from around the world. From authentic Indian curries to freshly shucked oysters, there’s a culinary delight to suit every taste.
Beyond the art galleries and culinary experiences, First Thursdays Cape Town provides an opportunity to explore the city’s diverse neighbourhoods. Each district has its own unique character and atmosphere, offering a different cultural experience. The CBD (Central Business District) serves as the epicentre of First Thursdays, with many galleries and eateries concentrated in this area. The streets come alive with vibrant art installations, street performances, and enthusiastic crowds. The CBD’s narrow alleys and historic buildings add to the charm, creating a delightful ambience for exploration.
Woodstock, located just outside the CBD, is a trendy neighbourhood known for its artistic vibe and industrial-chic appeal. During First Thursdays, the area bursts with creativity as galleries, design studios, and street art take centre stage. The streets are lined with colourful murals, and visitors can explore the unique shops and boutiques that showcase local fashion, homeware, and artisanal products.
Another neighbourhood worth exploring during First Thursdays is Observatory, affectionately known as “Obs” by the locals. This bohemian enclave is filled with quirky cafes, alternative music venues, and vintage stores. During the event, the neighbourhood buzzes with energy as art spaces open their doors and live performances entertain passersby. Visitors can immerse themselves in the laid-back atmosphere, enjoy the vibrant creative spirit, and perhaps stumble upon an impromptu poetry reading or a live music jam session.
The coastal suburb of Sea Point offers a different kind of First Thursdays experience. With its stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, Sea Point attracts visitors seeking a more relaxed and scenic setting. Art galleries in this area often feature maritime-inspired works, capturing the essence of the ocean and the surrounding natural beauty. Take strolls along the promenade, savouring the fresh sea breeze, and enjoy the captivating artwork on display and be sure to visit the Mojo Market for great food and live music.