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Reveal launches V&A Waterfront festive season featuring new pedestrian plazas, sustainable handmade decor, and a New Year’s Eve concert for all.

“I’ll never forget Cape Town. It’s the most beautiful city in the world.” It’s a sentiment often expressed by visitors to the Mother City, and Cape Town’s lasting impact on them is elegantly encapsulated in a saying often attributed to the American writer Judy Blume: “Our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch.” This is particularly true of Cape Town and its people.

This idea kept bubbling to the surface when the V&A Waterfront decided that, as a great city of the world, Cape Town needed a sign that boldly displayed its name in an iconic location: a sign that makes locals and visitors alike feel great about being part of a vibrant metropolis.

The product of this creative process was unveiled on Tuesday 21 November on Alfred Square, newly reimagined as a public plaza where Capetonians and tourists can connect with each other in the V&A neighbourhood that plays such a significant part in making Cape Town a feel-good destination that delights visitors from all over the world.

“Tourist attractions are places of culture, heritage, nature, or activities that draw people to visit, and the Waterfront continually works hard to stay true to this with our main purpose being to allow public access for entertainment, interest, or education, all year-round. Physical visitations allow us opportunity to curate movement, to give moments to visitors to pause, and interact, and take in their surroundings, and to mark their place in Cape Town.” Said David Green, CEO of the V&A Waterfront.

The new Cape Town sign, in letters that stand 1.65m high, signifies the city’s fingerprints in the form of “contours of the Cape” – an intricate 3D layering of the topographical shapes of eight Cape summits, including bucket list Table Mountain and Lion’s Head.

Speaking at the unveiling of the sign, Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis remarked, “As far as locations go, it doesn’t get more iconic than this. Nestled at the southern tip of the continent between the wild Atlantic Ocean and arguably the world’s most famous mountain, this Bay, this harbour and this Waterfront carry with them so much history and meaning for our city. It is fitting then that this is the setting for our new City Sign; our marker in the world where visitors can pause to reflect on their arrival in one of the world’s great cities. It offers a wonderful sense of place, and an opportunity to capture on camera an unforgettable Cape Town moment.”

Its unveiling marks the start of a festive season at the V&A Waterfront that celebrates Cape Town’s beauty, its deep creativity, and its musical talent, culminating in a fireworks display that marks the dawn of 2024.

Table Mountain is recognised worldwide as Cape Town’s most iconic feature, distinctive as a fingerprint, so it’s fitting that it features in a unique way on the city’s highly Instagrammable new sign. And just like the mountain, the sign is beautiful from all angles: the reverse sides of the letters feature artwork by Cape Town artists Wayne Bks (aka Conform), Wes Leal and Adele van Heerden, and Lalela, an arts education non-profit organisation and youth collective.

The art depicts the fauna, flora, fables, and folk of the eight mountains, while LEDs on the contours bring the topography to life and will allow the sign to evolve and respond to global and local conversations with the use of colour.

The sign anchors the plaza in front of the revamped Alfred Mall, The Alfred, where shoppers can enjoy the best of African creativity, design and fashion. Alfred Square and the plaza in front of the Union Castle Building are designed as “landing points”, especially for the growing number of visitors using drop-off services to reach the V&A Waterfront.

It’s there that they will first encounter this year’s Joy from Africa to the World festive decor, featuring the work of more than 40 teams of local crafters, designers and artists. For the fifth year, the V&A Waterfront is making good on its pledge to do its utmost to eliminate plastic waste from the neighbourhood by shunning mass-produced imported decorations that end up in landfills in January.

Instead, crafters and artisans were asked to bring this year’s theme – Between the Mountain and Sea – to life in large-scale visual showpieces and installations that celebrate the season in a sustainable, meaningful, and interesting way by combining traditional handcraft with contemporary design. Every year, visitors return to see old favourites but there’s always something new from the metal workers, weavers, woodworkers, beaders and illustrators whose creativity finds an outlet throughout the property.

Joy from Africa and the new Cape Town sign will be stars of the show when the V&A Waterfront hosts its New Year’s Eve celebration, a Cape Town tradition that attracts tens of thousands of people from throughout the city and visitors from all over the world. A free programme of music performances from 3pm to midnight will feature an impressive line-up of artists, including Tarryn Lamb, Just Jinjer, Sun El, Black Ties, Mandisi Dyantis, The Rivertones, Seth Grey and The Ploemies; culminating in a firework display that will light up the sky as midnight arrives.

“We’re pulling out all the stops to give Capetonians and visitors a festive season they’ll never forget,” said David Green, CEO of the V&A Waterfront. “Visiting the Waterfront is always fun, but there’s really nothing like it at this time of the year. We invite everyone to join us for a safe celebration in our world-class neighbourhood.”