Woodstock, Cape Town, South Africa

A colorful working-class neighborhood near downtown that had fallen on hard times, Woodstock has been revitalized with a mix of galleries, artists’ studios, boutiques, and restaurants. Much of the area’s original vibe remains, however, thanks to the long rows of colonnaded shops that edge Albert and Victoria roads. Among the nearby storefronts that are open throughout the week are Espresso Lab Microroasters and Luke Dale-Roberts’s award-winning restaurant, the Test Kitchen. Continuing down Albert Road, you’ll find spots like the Woodstock Co-op and the very trendy Woodstock Exchange, with a great array of places to eat and stores selling local goods. At the end of Albert Road, there’s a concentration of galleries, including the Stevenson, Goodman, and SMAC. On Saturdays, Woodstock draws crowds to the Neighbourgoods Market, a prepared foods extravaganza in the Old Biscuit Mill.

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Experience the rebirth of Cape Town's oldest and most diverse neighborhood

Quick history lesson: The area was inhabited by Khoikhoi until the arrival of Dutch in the 1600s. With the massive land reclamation of Table Bay in the 1950s to create the Cape Town foreshore, Woodstock beach was lost, and combined with the increasingly industrial nature of the suburb, Woodstock ceased to be a seaside resort. Woodstock however managed to remain integrated during Apartheid and survived being declared a ‘whites only’ area with the forced removals and demolition of houses as happened in nearby District Six. As a ‘grey’ area, many coloured and black people started to move into Woodstock during the 1970s and 1980s, laying the foundation for the urban renewal which was to start in the late 1990s. The face of Woodstock has changed dramatically over the last decade. Trendy restaurants, innovative media and other shops have sprung up in converted and revamped warehouses, abandoned buildings and even a disused castle brewery. Still a melting pot of flavors; edgy, rough, poor yet bursting with amazing street art and niche bookshops and boutiques. If you like your neighborhoods real, creative, interesting and filled with unique places to shop and hang out, Woodstock is the place for you.

Local street art explodes!

I love street art! I think it says so much about a city and the way it’s people think and feel. Street art has exploded in the edgy neighborhood of Woodstock, and one of my favorite things is to grab my camera and explore the streets, looking for beautiful works of art sprayed onto the walls of houses or derelict buildings. It’s free, fun and feels like a treasure hunt. Word of caution, if possible hang out in two’s, don’t wander around in the evenings or in deserted spots. Keep your camera close or better still snap pics on your smart phone. This is not a tourist area and is filled with a mixture of people and cultures. Be sensible but explore off the main road- that’s where the real treasures lie.

Woodstock Creative Tour

World-renowned street artist Faith47 is based in Cape Town. See some of her masterpieces on a tour of the Woodstock district with Juma Mkwela of Township Art Tours.

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