Going Pink in Knysna - Exploring the Pink Loerie Festival


The four-day carnival has been described as a cross between the Klein Karoo Nationale Kunstefees and the Gay Pride festival, which means that even the straightest of straight can enjoy it.

Generally running from 25th to the 28th May, attractions include the visual arts, comedy, drama, cabaret, live music, dance, drag shows, drag cabaret, a national drag competition, and a host of parties. And the best part is that several charities benefit from the festivities as auctions and fundraisings are held to help those less fortunate.

The charities, however, are not the only ones who benefit from the action. Attracting close to 5000 visitors every year, partygoers are bringing in a collective revenue of R9 million to this otherwise quiet town. Twice voted as the best town in South Africa, Knysna has no shortage of visitors and attractions. But the queer carnival is fast proving the value of the much maligned pink Rand to local businesses.

Arguably the industry that profits the most from the festival is the one that produces the pink ostrich feathers. For the four gay days in Knysna it is impossible to go anywhere without being bombarded with the pink plumage. Streets are scattered with them, queens are wearing them, clubs are decorated with them, and peacocks are put to shame with them.
Everywhere you go is a pink hilarity. And the restaurants are no different. Menus carry a pink theme with breakfasts, including pink champagne and strawberry surprises, pink parfaits, Turkish delights, and strawberry daiquiris at every table during cocktail hours. Carnival aside, there is no shortage of breathtaking views from local restaurants and hotels, all to be enjoyed with the festive cuisine.

The Pink Loerie is celebrating its sixth year in existence this year. Founded in 2000, its arrival heralded a step forward for gay visibility in South Africa.

With increased daily flights to Knysna, this secluded and quiet town is now more accessible than ever. Accommodation options range from quaint B&B’s to exclusive 5-star hotels and lodges.  One of the best located guest houses in Knysna is the FEATHER INN - Great accommodation, views over the lagoon and The Heads, it is extremely convenient to access all things fun, quick and easy.  Traffic can be a b... during the festival, so best to be well situated within easy access to routes to get you to the action.

The party generally kicks off on a Thursday with the ‘It’s Outrageous Concert’ at one of the local clubs, Zanzibar, and the dress code is of course outrageous. The performing artist gets announced closer to the time of the festival,  but if last year is anything to go by, then you are in for a treat. Emcee Andre Grove quite literally had the audience hypnotized with a performance that had contestants befuddled, to say the least.

Friday sees the fairest and the bedazzled come together for the “Queen of Clubs” drag competition. Last year the competitors came from places as far apart as Namibia and Mpumalanga and even from so afar as the United States! Dressed to kill in fishnet stockings, false eyelashes and more sequins than Elton John and Liza Minnelli could dream of, the ladies make up an integral part of the carnival. The multi-layered make-up and wigs that the queens wear so graciously could confuse even the most discerning Miss World judge!

At twelve o’clock the Midnight Madness Muscle-Mussel oyster party takes over until 02h30 when the float parade starts. By far the highlight of the weekend, the parade is a cacophony of color and music as the festival reaches its peak. Every corner and crevice is ablaze with feathers, streamers and drag queens, all of course in the brightest of pinks. Last year the parade ended with skydivers who donned the rainbow gay flag, landing in front of the club where the after-party was to be held.

The last day of the festival has a more relaxed theme with the Beyond Eden festival of women’s art, music and song taking place at the Garden of Eden in the Knysna forest. Here you can enjoy the artistic talents of local and visiting women with a variety of music, art, photography, poetry, dance, sculpture, craft and food stalls.

Later in the afternoon, festival goers had a choice between two performances: one by the renowned drag queen Dainty Delischia, and another by acclaimed actress Lizz Meiring.

With the popularity of the festival increasing every year, it is advisable to book your spot well in advance, or risk missing the Pink Loerie in all her festive glory.


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