​Stop right now! Go and feed the  soul you starved in 2016 ...

Mother City’s embrace: Lion’s Head proves itself as a easy hiking trail any day of the year. If you’re looking for a more challenging hike, try Constantia Nek. Photo: Andrew Pittaway/Gallo Images

Mother City’s embrace: Lion’s Head proves itself as a easy hiking trail any day of the year. If you’re looking for a more challenging hike, try Constantia Nek. Photo: Andrew Pittaway/Gallo Images

The gods of spare time have come around with the keys to your freedom. Freedom from work, schedules and deadlines. Free from that Whatsapp group that’s forever alive and kicking. The same one you dream of quietly exiting through the back door. For a golden stretch you can forget about following up, signing in, sending, uploading and downloading.

Right now you’re probably the guy sitting in another meeting saying much too little because your body is there but your soul is too crushed and your mind too burnt out to even wander. It’s time to cease and desist.

We’ve compiled a list of things to do and gigs to try out during the break — should you be so lucky as to get one.

Food and Drink

Old Town Italy (Umhlanga and Pretoria)
With markets a dime a dozen Old Town Italy is Umhlanga and Pretoria’s best-kept secret. This Italian enclave has a quaint old-town feel with the kind of texture you can touch. There’s varieties of cheese, wine, beer, meat and cake with a lot more to go around. Find out more about the gem here: oldtown.co.za

Shongweni Farmers Market (Durban)
Get a feel for the down-home and traditional at the Shongweni Farmers Market. They have everything freshly made from bread to coffee and homemade curry. Craft is also a big thing here and you might just score yourself some great finds for a bargain. Find out more about the Durban market here: shongwenimarket.co.za

Cradle of Humankind – Forum Homini (West Rand, Gauteng)
Jo’burg’s West Rand is generally overlooked in popular conscience. There are many opportunities to unwind, eat and be merry peppered along its obscure hilly routes and mountain regions. Like Forum Homini in the Cradle of Humankind. It’s a special place to stay but if you’re looking to just eat, their restaurant offers a unique dining experience of fresh and exciting tastes. Find out more about them here: forumhomini.com

Fordsburg Night Market (Johannesburg)
Spicy and hot sums up the palate of many South Africans. We like our food colourful and bursting at the seams with taste. The Fordsburg Night Market has all these finishings with hot sauce in the bag, swag. Indulge in a line-up of Indian street foods, fabrics and Bollywood DVDs under a lit night. It’s open every Saturday and entrance is free. More here: joburg.co.za/fordsburg-night-market

Root 44 Market and Darling Brew (Boland, Western Cape)
Root 44 is a market’s market. Nestled in the Cape Winelands, it offers scenery paired with organic food and drink. But, like every market worth its salt, Root 44 extends a wholesome experience of leisure from home decor and craft to live entertainment, tastings and parkruns. They’re open every Saturday and Sunday. Visit their website for more: root44.co.za

Outdoors

Hennops
Hennops is a thing of beauty within reach from both Jo’burg and Pretoria. It is a vast acre of unspoiled nature hikers and picnic lovers have at their disposal. It offers three scenic hiking routes and a river besides which to braai and laze the afternoon away. It is also a portal for adventure sports in the form of biking. There’s something for everyone and it’s a stone’s throw away from the city. Anybody up for a short and sweet road trip? Make a booking here: hennopstrails.co.za

Lion’s Head
This fussless hiking route never disappoints. Perfect for scenery and making memories. It’s also been the glorious backdrop to many a selfie. You don’t need to be the world’s best hiker, you just have to love a good walk and a good view. It’s popular among hikers during the full moon or anytime of the day really.

Constantia Nek Trail
This is specifically a hiking trail and the walk is about 3-4 hours long (6km-8km) so it’s light to mid as far as your level of fitness goes. It’s relaxed and scenic and won’t take too much out of you. The walk winds around the Woodhead and Hely Hutchinson dams through the forest with a steep — but attainable — path upwards before the top stop.

Magaliesberg mountain hikes
The Magaliesberg mountains also boast leisurely hiking trails with breathtaking views. With four routes to choose from, and one that’s child-friendly, it’s an afternoon well spent with family and friends against a background that’s good enough to go unfiltered on your Instagram post. It’s also less than 40km out of the city. Visit their website for specials here: rustig.co.za

Nightlife

Industry Lounge (Jo’burg)
Industry Lounge might make clubbing soulful and meaningful again. Jo’burg’s newest queer spot is about letting go while feeling at home and staying woke. The lounge is wide open with geometric industrial lines that cross over in the space. The bar is just a few months old and if you’re craving a new crowd this one might be for you. It’s open from Thursday to Sunday at 305 Fox Street, Jeppestown.

Bassline Goes Live (Jo’burg)
The place that used to be your favourite for live bands is growing up and getting a facelift. After 22 years as a mainstay venue in the heart of Newtown, Bassline is closing its doors to focus on special events and the business side of things. From hosting an impressive list of acts from home and abroad including Vusi Mahlasela, Femi Kuti, Phonte and many more to providing a recording home for artists, the venue’s become something of a heritage site. Head over to mark their end in their present form on December 31.

Keyes Art Mile: Mesh Club (Jo’burg)
Keyes Art Mile calls their brand of lifestyle “Curated Neighbourhood Living”. The precinct at the heart of Rosebank has become the hallmark of First Thursdays — where art, design, leisure and luxury come out to play across Jo’burg, Cape Town and Durban. It’s artsy sundowners on the one hand and craft beer on the other, shared between friends on the first Thursday after payday! It’s mounting a glossy flight of stairs to end the evening off at the swaggy Mesh Club. It’s a must. Don’t let your First Thursdays go to waste. Learn more here: keyesartmile.co.za

NYE in The Sky @Elevate
The Jo’burg skyline is something to behold and where better to do that than inside the city itself. Club Elevate invites city lovers to ring in the new year in style and grace. Try a sexy evening decked out on a rooftop to the sounds of soulful hip-hop, house and RnB. You can also stay the night in one of the rooms of the Reef Hotel and experience what the city has to offer. Visit: webtickets.co.za/event.aspx?itemid=1458646703

Music and Festivals

Kirstenbosch Summer Sunsets Concerts 2017
The Kirtsenbosch National Botanical Garden is spectacular and you hardly need a reason to pack a picnic basket and bottle of bubbly, and spend the day. The annual Summer Sunset Concerts run has begun and features live performances by various artists all the way to Easter. Drive out for a gloriously lazy afternoon.

Up the Creek
Savour the last slice of the holiday pie at Up the Creek from January 26 to 29. The festival takes place in the homely old town of Swellendam along the Breede River. It’s for floating down the river on a sweltering day and letting the live indie and folk music wash over you. Take advantage of the last days and ease into the new year.

There is naturally an exhaustive list of more places to play and gems to find if you wander about and try your luck. You could even stay indoors — for no longer than a weekend — and binge over any of the many series and movies on Netflix or Show. It’s called the art of doing absolutely nothing and doing it well. Happy holidays.

Smoking Dragon
The Drakensberg comes alive on New Year’s weekend with the 6th Smoking Dragon New Year’s Eve Festival. It’s like Oppikoppi but in summer and against the backdrop of a mountain range like no other. Enjoy three days of live music, adventure activities and hedonism. This year’s acts include Todo Mundo, Nonku Phiri, the Rudimentals and many more.

Constitution Hill – Kwanzaa Celebration 26 December
Ebukhosini Solution has collaborated with Constitutional Hill to bring you the 15th anniversary of the Kwanzaa Opening Ceremony 2016. The celebration takes its roots from pan-African harvest festivals from traditions all over Africa. Come dressed in your finest African robes and accessories. Find out more at facebook.com/Constitution.Hill/.

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