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Free State

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AAs beautiful as the Free State is, it’s equally interesting and dynamic. It’s centred around traditional African cultures, as well as influences of the early European settlers. There’s so much to learn about this province’s history and its great diversity of people.

It’s unquestionable that Free State culture is a true melting pot of traditions. Locals have descended directly from several traditional Southern African groups as well as a long line of Dutch ancestors. This combination has evolved into the unique South African culture of the Free State that we know today.

Arguably the first group to lay claim to this region were the San (Bushmen). Their ancient drawings speak of the animals that shared their lives on the Free State plains including, most interestingly, hippos. There are dozens of examples of San rock art dotted around the province, rated as some of the country's most valued examples.

The Free State

TThe Basotho or South Sotho people arrived here in the late 1700s. Despite many battles through the decades, including with the European settlers, the Basotho survived and have a strong presence in the province today. When visiting the Free State, you’ll notice hundreds of colourful Basotho huts made of reeds, grass and mud around the province. For a more intimate experience, visit the Basotho Cultural Village at Qwaqwa and immerse yourself in Sotho traditions. Or visit the Catharina Brand Museum at Ladybrand and see the transition of this culture from past to present.

Did You Know?
TThe province covers approximately 129 825 square kilometres and is the third biggest province in South Africa.

TThe 1800s saw the arrival of the European settlers, mostly Dutch-speaking farmers from the Cape, and later the British who undeniably had the biggest impact on the region's culture. Various buildings bear testament to these influences, including beautiful sandstone Edwardian and Victorian mansions throughout the province. The Boers, as the Afrikaans settlers became known, established themselves as a farming force in the area. 

WWith this came a rich legacy of traditions including the making of boerekos (farm-style food) and mampoer (a home-brewed alcoholic drink with a serious kick), and traditional folk dancing and music.

Visitors can today enjoy these traditions at towns across the province and partake in warm, farm-style hospitality through the province's choice of ‘farm stay' experiences. Venture out and explore the self-drive tourism routes:

  • (Battlefields, Friendly N6, Diamond and Wine, BBT Heritage, Maloti and Goldfields);
  • The National Museum in Bloemfontein;
  • The Basotho Cultural Village;
  • The Golden Gate Highlands National Park (with San art sites);
  • The Catharina Brand Museum at Ladybrand.


VVisitors should attend the various festivals held in the Free State that highlights the culture, spirit and energy of this incredible region. Philippolis Witblits Festival is held in June (a festival featuring traditional home-brewed alcoholic spirits); NAMPO Farm Show (agricultural show) takes place in Bothaville in May, and the Free State Food Fair and Macufe Mangaung African Cultural Festival in Bloemfontein is held in October.

What are you waiting for? The Free State has so much more to offer, so why not take a Sho’t Left and enjoy the beauty and adventure that lies in this province.

Explore the Free State, a province buried in rich history

18 July 1918 to 5 December 2013 Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

Vibrant culture
18 July 1918 to 5 December 2013 Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

With Nelson Mandela's passing, he will be remembered for his generosity of spirit and the remarkable achievement of bringing peace to a deeply divided country.

Enjoy the classic and the contemporary at Oliewenhuis Art Museum

Vibrant culture
Enjoy the classic and the contemporary at Oliewenhuis Art Museum

The Oliewenhuis Art Museum may be called a “museum”, but it's really an art experience – gallery, restaurants, gardens and all!

Getting cultural in the mountains at the Basotho Cultural Village

Vibrant culture
Getting cultural in the mountains at the Basotho Cultural Village

If you’re looking for that raw mix of South African culture and breathtaking scenery, then you have to visit the Basotho Cultural Village in the Free State province.

Paris with a difference

Vibrant culture
Paris with a difference

Just over an hour outside of Johannesburg, nestled on the banks of the Vaal River, you’ll come across a small town with a big heart.

March through history on the Battlefields Route

Vibrant culture
March through history on the Battlefields Route

If you’re a history buff, particularly military history, then the Battlefields Route in the Free State province will take you on a journey through the sites of some of the fiercest battles in South African history.

South Africa and its jazz scene

Vibrant culture
South Africa and its jazz scene

Jazz fans from around the world appreciate the skill and vibrant talent of South African jazz musicians.

Delve into Bloemfontein’s history and culture

Vibrant culture
Delve into Bloemfontein’s history and culture

Bloemfontein has numerous historical and cultural attractions on offer.

Clarens - The jewel of the Free State

Vibrant culture
Clarens - The jewel of the Free State

Are you a creative soul? Does the great outdoors fuel your artistic spirit? Visit the charming town of Clarens in the Free State and you’ll discover why we call it an artist's hideout.

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A visit to Kwa-Zulu Natal’s Valley of a Thousand Hills is one characterized by unspoilt nature, wildlife, magnificent scenery, good old South African wining and dining, a rich heritage, and warm country hospitality. This area, just a half an hour's drive from Durban, is named after the thousands of hills that tumble down to the mighty Umgeni River, which flows from the distant Drakensberg Mountains to the warm and inviting Indian Ocean. This area combines luxurious, laidback country living with an ancient, indigenous culture. For generations, the Zulu people have lived in and around the valley, and no visit is complete without a trip to one of the Zulu cultural villages. Here you can gain insight into the culture and traditions of one of the largest of South Africa’s cultural groups, attend (and even participate in) a traditional ceremony, learn about the customs of these fascinating folk, consult with a natural herbalist (inyanga) or a witch doctor (sangoma), and sample some of the homemade beer. Around the area: Experience traditional dancing and cultural shows at Phezulu Safari Park, or shop for crafts and curios at the 1000 Hills Arts and Crafts Village, enjoy a taste of nature at the Assagay, Springside and Krantzkloof Gorge nature reserves, or get your heart racing with some paragliding or rock climbing at Inchanga and Monteseel, or mountain biking at Giba Gorge Mountain Bike Park. Thank you to @struebermary for this beautiful snap. #MeetSouthAfrica #TravelSouthAfrica #Travelgram #kwazulunatal #exploresouthafrica #thisissouthafrica #wanderlust #southafrica

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