Roughly translated as "fountain of flowers," Bloemfontein is known as the City of Roses, both because of the abundance of the blooms throughout the city and the annual festival dedicated to the flower. As the seat of the South African Supreme Court, the city is the judicial capital of the country as well as the provincial capital of Free State. Several sports teams and stadiums also call the city home, and its many museums outline the history of the region. Bloemfontein was selected as one of the nine host cities for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
As one of the biggest cities in South Africa, the metropolis has a rich artistic and cultural history. Lord of the Rings author, J.R.R. Tolkien was born here, and the reverence for the city’s artistic heritage abounds, with one of the best performing arts infrastructures in Africa with more than 14 fully equipped theatres, a variety of outdoor spaces, excellent technical backup and international transportation links.
These include the Sand du Plessis (1000 Seater), Kovsie Kerk (1000), Andre Huguenot (400), Scaena (350), the Scaena Back Theatre (100), Wynand Mouton (350), Albert Wessels (350), Odeion (300), Odeion Amphitheatre (200), Rep Theatre (150), Civic Theatre (500), Stadsaal (800), NALN (200), and the War Memorial Amphitheatre (300).
In addition to the contemporary and historic theatre infrastructure, the Waaihoek Church where the African National Congress (ANC) was founded in 1912 is located in Bloemfontein, and can be converted into a performing arts hall, as well as ‘Moods and Flavours’ in the Heidedal suburb of Bloemfontein, one of the oldest jazz club in Africa.
Safety and security
Like most major cities, Bloemfontein has both good and bad areas. It is advisable when walking in Bloemfontein, particularly at night, to be aware of people around you, and ideally not to walk alone but in a group. The University of the Free State where PACE is hosted has 24-hour security and panic buttons across the campus. Ostentatious displays of wealth should be avoided, and it is not advisable to look like a typical tourist with many cameras strung around your neck. Do not leave valuables unattended.
Weather for June
During June and July, you can expect the average high temperature to reach 18°C (64°F). Similarly, every day the temperature drops after sunset and the average low temperature is a cool 8°C (46°F). It may be rainy, and in Bloemfontein, the cold winds from the Drakensburg Mountain range are quite severe at night so pack warm and come prepared for all eventualities.
There are no compulsory vaccination requirements for persons entering South Africa. Travellers from yellow fever-affected countries require inoculations to enter South Africa, e.g. Brazil, certain of its neighbouring countries and central Africa.
Certain northern areas of South Africa, including the north-eastern part of KwaZulu-Natal, are malaria regions. In winter, these areas will be low risk, but if you anticipate travelling to a malaria area it is recommended that you take prophylactics before arrival and the necessary precautions while in the area (e.g. protective clothing, insect repellents). South African doctors and dentists are highly trained and hospitals are well equipped. It is strongly advised that delegates take appropriate health insurance prior to their departure.
Time difference (GM+2)
South Africa operates two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time throughout the year, making it the same time as Central European Summer Time and six hours in advance of US Eastern Daylight Time.
Value Added Tax (VAT) at the rate of 15% is levied on most goods and services and is included in the display price of most goods. International visitors are encouraged to keep their slips as they can reclaim VAT on goods (not services) priced higher than R250.00 at the airport on departure, some harbours and at Customs Offices.
In South African restaurants, it is customary to tip a minimum of between 10 - 15% of the bill. For tables larger than 10 it is common for the tip to be included in the bill. It is also customary to tip anyone who has provided a service to you (car guards, petrol attendants, hotel porters, tour guide operators, masseuses etc).
Currency in South Africa is the Rand, denoted by the symbol R, with One Rand (R1) made up of 100 cents. Foreign currency can be exchanged at local banks and bureau de changes. All major credit cards such as American Express, Bank of America, Diners, Master Card, Visa and affiliates are accepted in most places in South Africa. Generally, credit cards are not accepted for the purchase of petrol. Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) offer a complete 24-hour service. Machines displaying international credit and debit card logos can be used with the respective cards.
Please note that anyone travelling to South Africa must have two consecutive blank pages in their passport, which lie side by side when the passport is open (i.e. left and a right-hand page). Passports must also be valid for at least six months. Passengers travelling to South Africa with passports which do not comply with these requirements will either be stopped from boarding the aircraft or risk deportation on arrival in South Africa.
Check the visa requirements for your country carefully. For many countries, you need to apply for your visa in person. While visas are not required for citizens of some European countries and many other countries, a valid passport is required. A list of countries that currently do not require a visa can be found at the South African Government website.
Participants requiring a visa for entry into South Africa are strongly advised to make their applications in their home countries at least six months before their intended date of travel. For more information please contact your nearest embassy or South African Consulate or consult your travel agency.
Delegates wishing to travel to South Africa's neighbouring countries and back to South Africa are advised to apply for a multiple-entry visa. Passengers travelling to South Africa are required to have a minimum of two blank pages in their passport to enable the issuance of an entry visa. If there is insufficient space in the passport, an entry will be denied and the passenger is likely to be detained pending return to their country of origin. Perhaps this is the time to renew those almost-full passports!
If you would like assistance with travel bookings, feel free to contact Nina Gerdener, Travel Consultant at Travel Counsellors Bloemfontein.
· Emirates Airways: www.emirates.com
· South African Airways: www.flysaa.com
· Air France: www.airfrance.com
· British Airways: www.britishairways.com
· KLM: www.klm.com
· Turkish Airlines: www.thy.com
· American Airlines: www.americanairlines.com
· Virgin Atlantic: www.virgin-atlantic.com
Visas and Travel
Where to Stay
What accommodation is available?
Bloemfontein has an abundance of Hotels, Guest Houses & Inns. Soetdoring Hostel & Kovsie-Inn on the University of the Free State campus are the official event accommodation hubs. Stay connected to the Vrystaat Arts Festival and PACE Programme and book here, where all invited guests & PACE artists will be accommodated.
Special rates for Soetdoring Hostel are R115.00 per person per night, based on two people sharing
R230.00 per person per night, based on single occupancy.
Go to their website here:
Tel: +27 51 401 7775
For more information please contact Ilze Nikolova on 051 401 9689 or nikolovaI@ufs.ac.za