First Thursdays

We live in a country where citizens don’t have a sense of safety. Boundary walls surround homes, we get from place to place via motor vehicles, and strolling around our local pavements after hours is something unheard of.

Inspired by a similar concept in Zurich, Gareth Pearson and Michael Tymbios started First Thursdays in November 2012 with the purpose of creating a “novel social experience.”

First Thursdays in Cape Town and Johannesburg takes place every first Thursday of the month. Art galleries and other cultural attractions, in the Central Business District (CBD), stay open until late.

“The night is as much about experiencing art and culture as it is about exploring the city on foot,” states the website.

First Thursday has not only provided an arts and culture experience but has given Cape Town’s CBD a complete makeover by making locals feel as if walking the streets of London, where first Thursday originated.

It provides free access to art galleries which has been made more accessible to the public and has allowed some to discover their love and appreciation for art. Some are drawn to excitement of the large crowds of people wandering through the streets of Cape Town, all curious and with a similar purpose. Others purely come along to mingle or party it up at popular hangout spots and bars such as La Parada, Arcade and Clarke’s coffee shop.

How it works if you want to attend

First Thursday is an event that is free to the public. Art galleries and cultural events will stay open until 21:00 or later. There is no set schedule nor is there a tour guide. So make use of the highlight spots on First Thursday website as where you go is completely up to you.

If you don’t know your way around the CBD, familiarise yourself with the highlight page, and the specific events you would like to attend by using Google Maps. If you’re in Cape Town or Johannesburg, invite your friends and family along and enjoy the cultural events.

Cape Town

The Cultural Highlights include: Gallery MOMO, “Bad Habitus” at Mullers Gallery, “Indigo We Trust” at Chandler House and many more.

Enjoy Retail Highlights at stores such as Mungo and Jemima, in Long Street, who are offer 10% off everything in the store on a Thursday evening; and Ska Clothing offers R50 voucher, if you spend over R200. Clarke’s book store, Lund rug gallery, Skinny LaMinx and other retail stores will also be open on Thursday evening.

Bar/Restaurant Highlights: Don’t miss out on HQ’s half price tapas in short market street, and if you’re in the mood for dancing stick around after 21:00 as Brett Aitken and Chris De Vos who will DJ in the later part of the evening. Enjoy  Mediterranean and Asian cuisine Villa 47; and if you’re a beer lover, Beerhouse  in Longstreet provides you with some of the best local beer and a beer hall with 25 taps.


Thanks to the Central City Improvement District (CCID), Cape Town’s central city is generally safe, but please always have an awareness of what is happening around; do not leave any valuables lying around in your vehicle.

This monthly event has been described as one of the city’s foremost cultural experiences, attracting thousands of people every month. So, do yourself a favour and take a MyCiTi Bus; or if you are driving, it’s recommended you park a bit further away from your desired destination, firstly because it might be difficult to find parking in both Bree and Church Street; and secondly you are able to enjoy the walk.


After Cape Town’s great success, this cultural experience has landed in Johannesburg and is presented by Nati Kgobe.

Rosebank Highlights: Gallery Momo, is a world renowned contemporary art gallery, it supports local and international, up and coming talents through its residency program. The art link gallery on 6th is an upmarket gallery space which displays a wide selection of art. The David Krut Projects and New works by Gina Waldman will be exhibited at The David Krut Bookstore, while and Priest Espressobar will be showing a visual art exhibition.

Newton and Braamfontein Highlights: Kitchener’s is a local pub during the day and is a party scene in the evenings; they have DJs from all over that provide them with “forward-thinking” music. Enjoy Thirst Thursday which happens every night and entrance is free until 21:30. Enjoy a live music and an open fire lamb on First Thursday at The Potato Shed. Appreciate some reggae music at Bassline where they have Ragga Night every Thursday, or head over to The Market Theatre and Windybrow Theatre where ‘The Year of the Bicycle’ is showing.

Upcoming event

This Month’s First Thursday takes place on 5 May, the walk starts at 17:00 and most galleries will stay open until 21:00. Most venues are free, except for specific performances.

For more information about First Thursday click here.