Nelson Mandela Bay’s festive season is set to kick off on a high note with Transnet National Ports Authority’s (TNPA) PEople’s Port Festival taking place at the Port Elizabeth harbour on 1 and 2 December 2018. The popular event made its return in 2017 after a long hiatus and this year will be celebrated under the theme ‘Centenary of Madiba’.  

Nationally, port festivals are part of TNPA’s efforts to transform the country’s commercial ports into ‘Smart People’s Ports’ with a focus on community engagement, tourism, leisure, recreation, and career and business opportunities. These were once regular events attracting thousands of visitors, until the advent of the ISPS code of safety for ports which since 2011 has placed limitations on public interaction with ports.

Port Elizabeth Port Manager, Rajesh Dana, said: “Last year we had 90 000 people attend the first PEople’s Port Festival and this year we’ll be looking to welcome even greater numbers. We promise a wide range of port experiences that delight families while delivering on our important underlying strategic focus of raising awareness of the ports, including the career and business opportunities they represent.”

The two-day festival will offer the Nelson Mandela Bay community the rare chance to see the inner-workings of the Port of Port Elizabeth through a range of fun, educational landside and waterside activities that showcase some of the incredible technology, machinery and maritime experiences offered by the port.

Highlights will include tours of South African Navy vessels and TNPA marine craft, bus tours exploring areas that are restricted to the public, the Bayworld experiential area, Bocadillo’s pop up restaurant plus many food trucks and vendors, live entertainment by national and local artists, a spectacular laser show, shark displays and so much more. Dana added: “The 2018 People’s Port Festival promises to be unique, exciting, fun, energetic, colourful and vibrant and it will be the perfect way to kick off the holidays and festive season.”

Dana said the 2018 festival theme would pay homage to the much-loved and renowned former President Nelson Mandela – who hailed from the Eastern Cape – during the year commemorating the centenary of his birth. The Port of PE has the honour of having two new tugs named in tribute to Mandela – namely tug ‘MVEZO’ named after the small Eastern Cape village where he was born, and ‘QUNU’ named after the village where he grew up.

Those interested in participating as a vendor or performer at the PEople’s Port Festival may contact for more information.

Gates open at 10am to 10pm on Saturday 1 December and 10am – 4pm on Sunday 2 December.

There is no entry fee to attend the festival.    Most of the festival activities are free, with a few requiring a nominal ticket purchase directly from these vendors.   Food and beverages will be on sale in different areas throughout the festival.

The festival area will be a pedestrian only zone and shuttles will be available from the designated parking areas entered via Campanile or Green Street.