The Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival – by Justin Jacobs
One can’t argue with the fact that we live in a country just brimming with abundantly blessed landscapes. South Africans certainly are spoiled for choice when it comes to the vast selection of uniquely different options of holiday destinations that are available within our borders. And now with the rand taking on a few tumbles against other currencies, it’s possibly a wise choice to take a “sho’t left” and check out one of SA’s most idyllic destinations, Knysna.
If you haven’t already heard about The Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival, then this article is definitely going to grab your attention. Back in the previous century the sleepy town of Knysna, with its sprawling rainforests and tranquil lagoons was pretty much one of SA’s best kept secrets. But the organisers of the Pink Loerie festival were planning a revival that would have Knysna featuring prominently on the annual LGBTI radar.
The organisers of the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival were aware of certain facts. They knew that the LGBTI community loved an excuse to take a holiday. They also knew that Knysna’s economy deserved a little boost in the process. By introducing the LGBTI community to the festival in Knysna, the organisers had a magical platform on their hands and the very first Pink Loerie festival was born in 2001.
Over the years the festival has morphed and evolved into what can be described as a carnival with a purpose. Both residents and visitors to the festival celebrate the rich diversity of the LGBTI community over a span of four fun-filled days and nights. The town comes alive with boisterous art exhibitions, bubbly fund raisers and titillating sexual education campaigns and of course the night time clubbing; all celebrating diversity, gay culture and queer freedom.
Each year the festival also highlights a new and unique theme for that particular year. In 2016 the festival was host to the continents first mass same sex wedding, whereby 16 lucky gay and lesbian couples were thrown the wedding of their dreams. The festival sold tickets to the once in a lifetime event and it was well attended by masses of locals and foreign nationals alike. The event was the belle of the festivals ball schedule, and was very well covered by the media.
This year one of the main highlights includes a Medieval Feast dress up dinner. This plays nicely into the theme for this year’s Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival which is “Back to Where it All Started”. The organisers are hoping to see enchanting outfits inspired by bears, fairies, princesses, kings and of course fabulous queens.
Regardless of the theme, the cherry on the proverbial Pink Loerie cake is the annual Knysna Pride Parade which happens on the Saturday of each festival run. Think Gay Pride but in the intimate and lush surroundings of a quaint seaside town. Everyone from the local high school marching band to the most glamorous drag queen on stilts attend this “boutique” gay parade. The atmosphere is warm and friendly and the locals and their families all come out in droves to support and cheer.
So get some of your ‘gal pals’ together and take a glorious road trip down the garden route to Knysna this month for what promises to be an extraordinarily awesome LGBTI festival.
The festival runs from Thursday 27th April to Monday 1 May 2017 and more information is available on www.pinkloeriefoundation.com.
Accommodation can also easily be arranged using Air BNB as Knysna is filled to the brim with all sorts of accommodation styles to suit everyone’s pockets.