Discover Joburg’s nightlife

Johannesburg is known for its bustling vibe. At any time of day, you’re sure to find something to do. But, when the sun sets, that’s when the real fun starts. Here are a few fun activities to get up to at night ...

Go to The Bioscope

The trendy Maboneng precinct has a busy nightlife. Many of the restaurants, pubs and art galleries that keep you entertained during the day stay open into the late hours of the night.

Among the attractions in the area, The Bioscope Independent Cinema is a favourite. The cinema screens a selection of local and international arthouse films, starting in the afternoons and running well into the night. Aside from its usual selection of films, there are occasionally themes such as “Classic Movie Sundays” and “Noodlebox Cinema” (which features Asian and martial arts films). You can also look forward to several movie-related festivals throughout the year.

Although popcorn is available, you’re more than welcome to order from the adjacent Chalkboard Restaurant menu, which offers pizza, paninis, salads, and a selection of hot and cold drinks.

The Bioscope
The Bioscope Independent Cinema in Maboneng. (Image: The Bioscope Independent Cinema)

Pop into a pub

Johannesburg has its fair share of watering holes, so it comes as no surprise that finding somewhere to grab a drink with friends is not the most difficult thing in the world.

Depending on your taste, you can try the north of Johannesburg, which offers premium nightclubs such as The Sands in Sandton, Kong club in Rosebank and The Manhattan Club in Rivonia; or central Johannesburg, which is your go-to area if you’re looking for a simple night out with your buddies.

In central Johannesburg, Melville’s La Santa Muerte is officially a restaurant that serves Mexican dishes and drinks, but when the sun goes down the DJs play great music that makes for a great night out with lots of dancing. A bit further south, in Braamfontein, Kitcheners Carvery Bar and the Great Dane pub are great venues. These interconnected pubs serve drinks and pub food, play great music, and have hosted some memorable events.

La Santa Muerte
La Santa Muerte. (Image: La Santa Muerte)

Night markets

If a relaxed atmosphere is more what you’re after, then Johannesburg’s night markets are your best bet. The Vilakazi Street Night Market in Soweto is one of the staples of night markets in the city. It takes place on the last Thursday of every month and offers food stalls, crafts, clothes and entertainment.

Another great option is Market on Main in Maboneng. The market is a Sunday regular, but once a month it hosts a night market, on a predetermined weekday. Market on Main offers great food on the ground floor of the building, while the first floor is reserved for clothes, art, furniture and accessories.

Market On Main
(Image: Market On Main)

First Thursdays

Initially launched in Cape Town, the First Thursdays events have grown to be a fixture of Johannesburg’s nightlife. These events take place on the first Thursday of every month and are hosted at various venues in Rosebank and Braamfontein.

The activities are just as varied as the venues hosting them. Rosebank treats you to a night market along Keys Avenue, which includes food trucks serving food, drinks and other treats, while nearby restaurants stay open to serve patrons. Some of the art galleries along the street are open for the night, and there is usually live music.

First Thursdays in Braamfontein is similar, but with its own “Braam” feel. You can look forward to art, dancing and a meal from one of the restaurants. Some of the venues that participate in First Thursdays include Kitcheners Carvery Bar; museums and art galleries such as the Wits Art Museum and Kalashnikovv Gallery; Republic of 94 restaurant/pub; and occasionally, the creative academy Umuzi will host special exhibitions by its current and former students.

While exploring these fun places, you’re guaranteed to find even more ways to enjoy Joburg’s nightlife. Happy hunting.