Festive Season In South Africa

By Kyra Tarr on December 21, 2023

The Festive Season is magical no matter where in the world you are, but to those of us who live in the southern hemisphere, white Christmases are certainly not on the cards…

A South African Christmas

Despite Hallmark movies portraying the quintessential winter wonderland over Christmastime, our annual festivities fall smack dab in the middle of summer. That said, it’s difficult to get excited about mulled wine and fur-lined hats when it’s more than 33°C (91°F) outside! (No matter how much we enjoy eggnog or mince pies.)

In an effort to embrace the facts, we’ve reimagined what a South African Festive Season looks like to us, swapping in our own rendition of traditional symbols.

Read on and tell us what you think!

Impalas > Reindeer

When Father Christmas comes to South Africa, we imagine that his reindeer might suffer in the heat. Instead, he’d have to unhitch Rudolph and crew and replace them with a herd of graceful impala!

As one of the most successful antelope species, you’re more than likely to spot this beautiful buck in the Madikwe Game Reserve.

Castle Beer > Glühwein

Mulled wine is a wonderful winter warmer, but in the heart of summer a cold brew is just the thing.

South Africa produces many fantastic beers, but none is better known than Castle. Over the Festive Season, South Africans are far more likely to sip on a cold one than indulge in anything overly spiced.

As this beer’s slogan states: “It all comes together with a Castle.”

Swimming Pools > Snowy Slopes

Unless you make for the Drakensberg or other mountain ranges, snow is a rarity in South Africa in general and in December in particular.

Festive Season means spending long days out by the swimming pool or near other bodies of water.

Here at Tuningi, we’ve kitted each suite with its very own private pool and have another waiting for you at the Main Lodge.

Thorn Trees > Pine Trees

Although pines are the traditional trees of Christmas, they are not indigenous to South Africa.

A more apt replacement would be the Umbrella thorn (Acacia tortilis), a tree that’s synonymous with the bushveld and thrives in our hot summer conditions.

Braai Meat > Turkey

Believe it or not, South African don’t actually eat much turkey.

A South African Christmas may include a roast of some sort, but the Festive Season as a whole is scheduled with as many braais (barbeques) as possible.

Often jokingly referred to as our ‘national pastime,’ you haven’t truly experienced South Africa until you’ve been invited to a braai.

Come join us at our outdoor fire pit!

Ice Cream > Ice Rinks

This isn’t really a replacement, as such, but the closest South Africans get to ice in December is when it’s in the form of a frozen treat on a stick.

Over a South African Christmas, baked puddings are often replaced with something lighter and more refreshing, like lollies or ice cream.

Our culinary team are adept at making delicious flavours of both!

Thunder Showers > Snow Storms

As mentioned above, snow falls very rarely in South Africa. Instead of beautiful white blizzards, our summers are marked by earth-quenching thunderstorms – a truly awe-inspiring experience.

In the bush, thunderstorms seem to come out of nowhere before the heavens open and drench the world in short bursts. It results in what we at Tuningi call the ‘Green Season,’ when all the world is well-fed and the animals are well-watered.

As soon as they appear, the thunderstorms retreat. You’ll see steam rise from the ground and experience the magical smell of freshly watered earth.

Time Of Plenty

Although the backdrops may differ, we like to believe that the spirit of the Festive Season is alive and well in South Africa!

If you’d like to experience this wonderful time of year with us, feel free to get in touch with our reservations desk at

Alternatively, make use of our seamless online booking platform and secure your dates at Tuningi.

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