Continually creative Newtown
Newtown offers a wealth of entertainment pursuits, and is a magnet for artists, musicians, dancers and performers.
The Newtown Cultural Precinct, part of Johannesburg’s inner-city regeneration campaign, has become the cultural, entertainment and retail hub of what was once an old brick yard slum.
The Newtown Cultural Precinct, in downtown Johannesburg, has a distinctly cosmopolitan vibe; and underlying its trendy coffee shops, restaurants, art galleries and clubs is the same avant garde attitude that made it a hot-bed of protest theatre, music and poetry during apartheid.
The Newtown Cultural Precinct is the heart and soul of Johannesburg’s cultural landscape, a place where the creative arts are nurtured and celebrated.
Few places embrace cultural diversity like Newtown, Johannesburg. Here, Hindi celebrants light up the Jozi skyline with massive Diwali firework displays, dancing dragons breathe fire into the Chinese New Year, Gay Pride parade-queen’s samba across the Nelson Mandela Bridge; and jazz aficionados flock to Newtown’s annual international Joy of Jazz Festival.
Centered on the Mary Fitzgerald Square, Newtown is packed with museums, art galleries, craft workshops, dance factories, live music venues, clubs, bars and restaurants. Among Newtown Cultural Precinct’s more famous landmarks are MuseuMAfricA, the Market Theatre, Kippies jazz club, and Gramadoelas restaurant.
In Newtown, explore the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, browse alternative bookshops, tour the SAB World of Beer, or shop for original, South African-made art and crafts in its numerous galleries. Nearby, the Oriental Plaza, also within the Newtown zone, and is an historic shopping attraction.
Perhaps because of its politically turbulent past, Newtown Cultural Precinct remains resolutely colour-blind. Since the mid 1900’s, musicians, artists, poets and dancers, irrespective of race have gathered here, seeking a blow-valve for life under apartheid through creative expression. This vein of defiance still keeps Newtown’s pulse throbbing, so if cutting-edge, controversial and boundary-breaking expression inspires you, you’ll experience it here.
For a quintessential Jo’burg night out, look no further than Newtown. Drop in at Kaldi’s Coffee, for a pick-me-up brew from Ethiopia, Tanzania or Kenya; see the sun slip down over the City of Gold from a trendy café overlooking the square; then dine out, and take in a show or an art exhibition, before a night of clubbing, or grooving to live music in Newtown. Creative Newtown, will keep you endlessly entertained.
From the north of Johannesburg, head south along the M1 Highway, take the Jan Smuts off ramp and continue straight until the intersection at Jan Smuts and Empire. Proceed through this intersection, up the hill into Braamfontein - the campus of the University of the Witwatersrand will be on your right hand side - this road becomes Bertha, and will take you straight over the Nelson Mandela Bridge and into Newtown.
From the south of Johannesburg, head north along the M1 and take the Carr Street off ramp. Carry on straight into Quinn Street and turn left into Bree Street. This takes you into Newtown.
There is ample, safe parking at the Market Theatre, and behind Kippies jazz club.
Newtown is accessible by public taxi bus, metered taxi or by car. You can also do Newtown as part of a tour.
Newtown is hip and happening all year round. Check the Newtown Management District website for the latest events and festivals.
You can spend half a day to a full day exploring the attractions
Comfy walking shoes if you plan to tour the precincts many museums, shops and galleries. If you’re going straight from the car to your dinner date or club, your Jimmy Choo’s won’t look out of place.
Stay at the nearby Mapungubwe, a 4-star contemporary African-themed hotel, or book into one of the Ashanti’s designer furnished apartments. Alternatively there are hotels in nearby Braamfontein, or across the motorway, stay at the struggle-chic 4-star Holiday Inn, in Kliptown, Soweto.
Newtown boasts a number of popular restaurants, offering steaks to seafood. African-inspired meals can be found at Moyo (pan-African cuisine) and Gramadoelas (traditional South African cuisine) at the Market Theatre. Sophiatown serves up hearty afro-fusion, and in nearby Fordsburg are some of the city’s best Indian restaurants.
Newtown hosts some of Jo’burg’s biggest events including the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz, the Newtown Diwali Festival, Jo’burg’s Pale Ya Rona Carnival, Jo’burg’s New Year's Eve party, Jo’burg Arts Alive, SA Fashion Week, the Africa Day concert, and the First National Bank Dance Umbrella.
There are a number of heritage landmarks around Newtown, some dating back to the late 1800’s. In Braamfontein visit the Origins Centre at Wits University, and Constitution Hill, on the border of Hillbrow. South you’ll find Gold Reef City and the Apartheid Museum, and south-west, Soweto.
Depending on your interests, there are from pan-African food, to struggle history, museum & art gallery, historic architecture and city heritage tours you can take.
From investment art, to clothing, jewellery, street curios, photographs and collectables, there is a wide range of art and craft to purchase in Newtown.
Newtown Management District:
Tel: +27 (0)11 833 4053
Fax: +27 (0)11 832 2826
The square in Newtown is named for 1920’s labour activist, and later deputy mayor of Johannesburg, Mary Fitzgerald.
Newtown Cultural Precinct – Jozi’s creative soul
The Newtown Cultural Precinct is a culture and entertainment district in downtown Johannesburg, filled with historic landmarks and contemporary entertainment