Enter a place filled with rich history, repurposed spaces, art and more art. The Newtown Cultural precinct has much to offer artists and lovers of the arts.
In the heart of Newtown is the Market Theatre, Museum Africa and Mary Fitzgerald Square. The Market Theatre, located at the corner of Bree and Miriam Makeba streets, is an iconic South African theatre and protest space were many of South Africa's best-known theatre productions have been performed. It is an important part of South Africa's anti-apartheid history and is a beacon of how artists used their trade to rebel against the oppressive Apartheid regime. The theatre is housed in an old fruit market (hence its name) and you can see remnants of the market still present in the architecture. When watching a show on the main stage look around you at the signs for the various market sellers.
Museum Africa is a great place to learn about Johannesburg's history through a number of permanent displays and exhibits. It also offers spaces for artists to work. It is located right next to the Market Theatre and it is a large structure beside Mary Fitzgerald Square. You won't miss it when you're in Newtown.
Mary Fitzgerald Square, a central attraction in Newtown, is a popular outdoor venue. It is often host to large concerts and events. The square was also home to the widely popular Standard Bank Joy of Jazz festival for over a decade until the festival moved to a larger venue for its 2014 edition.
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Food and entertainment spaces in Newtown include Shikisha Bar, Sophiatown Bar Lounge and Kaldi's Coffee. Shikisha, located, on Miriam Makeba Street, is a local bar and live music venue. If you're looking for a great place to enjoy sundowners near the CBD, this is a great place to be.
Shikisha bar, located on Miriam Makeba Street, is a relaxed venue by day. Here you can just enjoy a drink and a bite to eat. It's a good place to enjoy sundowners with old or new friends. It is also a performance and music venue so the party often continues late into the night.
Sophiatown Bar Lounge, near Mary Fitzgerald Square and opposite Museum Africa, celebrates the vibrant "Kofifi." On the walls are images of life in Sophiatown during its prime. Its menu, with options like "Di'Starters" and "Di Lamb Chops" offers patrons favourite South African food like amasonja, spicy chicken livers, "fingalikin' chicken wings", wors and pap, mogodu, and more. Sophiatown also serves coffees from other African countries.
For the coffee-lover, Kaldi's is one of the best places to enjoy brews from across the continent. While there are a number of coffee venues in nearby Maboneng, a visit to Kaldi's is still worth it – especially, if you are already exploring Newtown. Recently, Kaldi's has added vegan flavours to its menu (thanks to its new owners who are vegans). If you're looking for a great cafe in Newtown, Kaldi's is at the top of the list for most locals – it's something of an institution in Newtown.
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The Bassline, located on Henry Nxumalo street, is another great live music venue which has been host to a number of performances and weekly events for various music genres including Hip Hop, Afro Jazz, R&B, and Ragga. It is also a popular New Year's Eve party venue. The Bassline has hosted performances by popular local musicians like Thandiswa, Zahara, Ringo, Zonke, and more. It also offers rehearsal and performing spaces for musicians.
The Bus Factory, located on Helen Jospeh street and not far from the Bassline, is another interesting space. It is a repurposed space – formerly, a space for trams which then became a garage for double decker buses it is now home to a number of office spaces. It also has various open spaces that can be used to exhibit, or perform. As a result, it has also been host to various art events like theatre productions and poetry slams. It is also home to the Artist Proof Studio – an organisation focused on professional printmaking. Visit their website for more info.
The Dance Factory, also on Helen Jospeh street, is a space and organisation dedicated to nurturing dance theatre in South Africa. It is a space in which watch dance performances, a space for young children to learn to dance, and it is a space that can be hired for workshops and rehearsals. The Dance Factory also produces its own productions which are also performed here.
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For those interested in the history of South African beer, the South African Breweries (SAB) World of Beer is not to be missed. Beer-lovers can take a tour of the World of Beer, enjoy a beer tasting or beer pairing experience, and of course, drink tasty local beer from the tap in the Tap Room.
Science-lovers will go crazy at Sci-Bono Discovery Centre. This science centre promotes interaction with the sciences and its exhibits often leave children and adults amazed. Sci-Bono also offers holiday programmes where children can dissect a heart, eyeballs, and more. Visit their website for a full list of what's on.
Find some time to visit Newtown, travel its streets, and discover its spaces. There is so much to enjoy here both during the day and at night.