V&A Waterfront celebrates 30th anniversary, SA’s Top tourist attraction!



The V & A Waterfront has issued a commemorative issue of its Winter 2021 magazine to honour ‘30 years of hope, connection and the best of the V & A’.

It is a reflection on the history of the establishment of the Waterfront in 1990 as well as its growing expansion and development, the harbour area which has become South Africa’s most popular tourist attraction.

The magazine highlights 30 milestone developments and events in the V & A Waterfront in the past 30 years:

  1. Three years after the vision defined by architect Gawie Fagan for a mixed-use development of a section of the Harbour, Capetonians were attracted into the  Victoria & Alfred Waterfront (son Alfred had represented his mother Queen Victoria when the original Harbour was built in 1860 and attended its official opening in 1870),  the V & A Waterfront commonly referred to as the Waterfront.
  2. The first tenants to open their doors in 1990 were Mitchell’s Scottish Ale House and Ferryman’s Irish Tavern, still operating today, 31 years later. Bertie’s Landing was the first restaurant yo open in the Waterfront, Balducci’s opened 25 years ago but closed down at the beginning of this year. The first business tenants were housed in five cottages on Moorings Lane, one of them having been the Port Captain’s house. The Waterfront developers had renovated the five cottages, and rented them to small businesses. My Relationship Marketing Marketing Research and Public Relations Consultancy was the first tenant of Moorings 3, with I sublet a part of to Waterfront Television. We occupied the building for five years, from 1992, until the rent became exhorbitant.
  3. The Amphitheatre has entertained Waterfront visitors and shoppers over the years. It is also a scenic spot to take a break, and to eat and drink a take-away item from the Food Court.  The magazine does not state when it was completed.
  4. Red Bull Flugtag took place in 2012, am international competition to build and launch home-made human-powered flying machines, and the gates to the Waterfront had to be closed to limit the flow of visitors.
  5. Workshop17 is a co-working space in the Waterfront, filled with start-ups, small businesses, companies, and non-profit organisations. It is the first time that I have read about it, and its location is unknown. Last year it won the Global Startup Awards Best Co-working Space.
  6. Sailing events: Various international sailing events have incorporated the Waterfront in their calendars, including the BT Global Challenge, renamed the Volvo Ocean Race.
  7. The Watershed was established in 2014, housing 150 creative and design small businesses, selling jewelry, clothing, ceramics, textiles, furniture, food, art, and crafts from individual stands.
  8. Cape Town Cruise Terminal: The Terminal is located far from the heart of the Waterfront, and has led to more cruise ships including Cape Town in their itineraries. In 2019 55 cruise ships visited Cape Town. A new start in cruise liner visits is expected from October 2021.
  9. The SA Navy commemorated its 75th anniversary in the Waterfront, with six foreign warships in attendance.
  10. Zeitz  MOCAA (Museum of Contemporary Art Africa) opened its doors in 2017, the first major museum of African Art. The most unusual aspect of the MOCAA architecture is that it was built from a grain silo. The prestigious Silo Hotel is part of the building too, offering one of the best Cape Town views from its 11th floor bar terrace. As a result of the Museum and Hotel, the design-focused Silo District was born, home to Lindt chocolates, Virgin Active, the Radisson Red Hotel, a number of restaurants, and apartments, but this area is not as busy as it could be.
  11. FIFA World Cup 2010: The Waterfront became an official World Cup Fan Fest in the country for the Soccer World Cup. More than 3 million visitors paid a visit to the Waterfront during the one-month event.
  12. Battery Park: the outdoor area was developed in 2018, with canals and landscapes areas. It is popular for SUPing, kayaking, skating, and more.
  13. Beam of Hope: When the Waterfront could not host its spectacular annual fireworks display on New Years Eve 2020 due to Lockdown regulations, 36 searchlights lit up the sky as a symbol of hope and unity in recognition of the many Capetonians losing their jobs and lives due to Covid19.
  14. Dock Road Theatre: Entertainer David Kramer opened the 200-seater Dock Road Theatre in 1990, running South African shows for six years.
  15. The Two Oceans Aquarium opened in 1995, a world class facility, and it has received more than 10 million visitors.
  16. Queen Elizabeth II and her late husband Prince Phillip visited the Waterfront in 1995, when they embarked from the Royal Yacht Britannia.
  17. The Waterfront was bought back from Dubai World and London and Regional Properties by Growthpoint Properties Limited and the Government Employees Pension Fund in 2011.
  18. The Swing Bridge connects the popular part of the Waterfront and the Silo District. One had to use a ferry previously to get from the one section to the other. Prior to Lockdown in 2020, the number of persons using the bridge was 180000 – 240000 per month.
  19. The Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island is on the Silo District side of the Waterfront, near the Clocktower. From here visitors travel to the heritage site of Robben Island.
  20. The V & A Hotel was the first hotel to be built in the Waterfront, opening its doors in 1990. It was previously a Warehouse dating back to 1994.
  21. Green buildings: In 2014 No 1 Silo became the first internationally recognised 6 star green star office by the Green Building Council SA.
  22. The Cape Wheel is a popular tourist attraction. It has 6 km of LED lights, and can be seen from the city centre of Cape Town at night.
  23. Victoria Wharf : The first half of the shopping centre was completed in 1992. It became so popular amongst tourists as well as locals that it was subsequently doubled in size.
  24. Joy from Africa to the World: the 2020/2021 Festive Season decor focused on sustainability, and displayed work by more than 200 crafters from five African countries. It won the Business and Arts South Africa  Innovation Award 2020.
  25. Celebrity Hotspot: being a tourism attraction, famous stars and presidents have stayed in the top hotels in the Waterfront, including the One & Only, the Table Bay Hotel, and the Cape Grace.
  26. Nobel Square near the V&A Hotel recognises four South African Nobel Peace Prize laureates: President Nelson Mandela, President FW De Klerk, Desmond Tutu, and Albert Luthuli. It was established in 2005.
  27. CSI initiatives assist the staff, neighbourhood and surrounding communities with grants and supporting social causes.
  28. Makers Landing opened its doors in 2020 at the Cruise Terminal, a multi-cultural food destination with 30 food stalls and shops.
  29. Symphony of Fire pyro-technics competitions held in the Waterfront between 1998 and 2000 as well as in 2006 are still talked about.
  30. The Clock Tower is the oldest building the Waterfront, dating back to 1882. Originally yellow, it is now red. It has started leaning to one side,  being 5 cm off-centre.


Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whaletalesblog.com www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein, My Cape Town Guide/Mein Kapstadt Guide Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein @MyCapeTownGuide


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2 replies on “V&A Waterfront celebrates 30th anniversary, SA’s Top tourist attraction!”

  1. Reminder:
    Hilderbrand opened its doors in 1995 at the V&A Waterfront and should be mentioned here.

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