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
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
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
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
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
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.