It’s true! I love Johannesburg at Christmas time. Africa’s largest people-bustling, traffic-hurtling city takes a deep breath for the festive season and suddenly calms down. As a born and bred Johannesburger lucky enough to live on the green belt, known to locals as ‘The Parks’, this is the best time of the year to either rest up, or to explore Jozi.
We have an abundance of exciting places to see, both in the city and just beyond. There is also our great weather and we’re renowned for our friendliness. I call it Jozi Christmas Balm and we’re happy to share it.
If you’re joining family or friends in Joburg for Christmas, and you want to alleviate some of the inevitable in-each-other’s-space stress, here is a local tip – treat yourself to some top class accommodation in The Parks area. There are fabulous guesthouses, and if you want to cook your own traditional Christmas dinner there is self-catering along with the B&B’s.
The Christmas spirit of peace, generosity and kindness can get a little tested at merry making time. Our family was saved from mince pie meltdown two years ago when we were advised to book my mother-in-law into one of the local B&B’s, and my mom into another guesthouse in a neighbouring suburb. The mum’s could visit friends, take leisurely breakfasts, pop in to see the kids and, most importantly, not be disturbed during their afternoon nap (don’t say anything but I think it saved our marriage). Not only could you enhance your relationships, but the area is so central that it’s uber-easy to have adventures on both sides of the city.
If you’d prefer to play close to ‘home’ in The Parks you can catch up with friends and family on side walk cafes, restaurants and bars. Alternatively put on your sun protection and go mountain biking, canoeing, running, walking or pack a picnic to enjoy along our prized green belt (Johannesburg Botanical Gardens, Emmerentia Dam, Zoo Lake, Delta Park and Melville Koppies).
Incidentally, we have over 20 000 hectares of preserved green belt and wetlands, and have just won the UN Environment Programme Liveable Communities contest for three parks in what were previously disadvantaged areas.
Johannesburg can be so quiet at this time of the year that golfers may wish to spice things up a bit by shouting fore! on the Parkview golf course opened in 1916. The course, like most of our park areas in the north of Johannesburg, runs along the Braamfontein Spruit, Joburg’s longest river running south to north.
If you need more entertainment than listening to your brother-in-laws favourite jokes at the 19th hole, Joburg Theatre hosts Aladdin until 29th December, and classic pantomime has jokes for adults and kids. Movie lovers can immerse themselves in a back to back Christmas special at The Bioscope at the Maboneng Precinct – all the Back to the Future movies with no break!
If you’re a shopper, you can soak up the exclusive atmosphere at Hyde Park Mall with its specialist boutiques. Too tired to shop? Never fear there’s a massage waiting just for you at one of the numerous day spas in the area.
Did I mention Johannesburg over Christmas was calm? Well, whatever you choose to do while basking in the glorious sunshine or witnessing a spectacular Highveld thunderstorm where lightning cracks the sky and the streets steam, may Jozi Christmas Balm give you pure holiday pleasure. Enjoy a merry and safe festive season.