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The Hilton Arts Festival

Established in 1993, the Festival aims to bring the pick of South Africa’s top quality performing arts to KwaZulu Natal.

This primary aim is enhanced by all other aspects of the Festival: art exhibitions, quality craft, food and drink, live music. It offers the opportunity to showcase the cream of South African theatre and to support South African writing. The staging of an event such as this presents its own set of challenges. Various venues have to be modified: from classrooms to marquees, dining rooms to gardens. Everything is converted to ensure that members of the audience will enjoy the best possible performance at The Hilton Arts Festival – whether it be from a technical or artistic aspect – and of course, to provide audiences with affordable ticket prices. The Festival also faces the eternal challenge of remaining ‘new’ and every year a wide variety of different productions of all genres, largely South African but, depending on funding, sometimes international, are sourced, ensuring that South African audiences remain challenged, provoked and entertained during their time at this unique event. It’s all there from music to cabaret, comedy to tragedy, dance to drama.

It’s not all fun! There is also hard work that goes on behind the scenes nurturing and developing new young technicians, artists, playwrights and actors as well as providing a unique opportunity to introduce the next generation to the magic of theatre – after all they are the audiences of the future.

To this end, the Festival runs a day of age and content specific theatre for young people. South African iconic singer and white Zulu, Johnny Clegg, coined the word “Jongosi”, and allowed the Festival to use it as the umbrella term for this unique youth programme. The word comes from the Afrikaans, meaning “jong os” but has been absorbed, along with Clegg, into Zulu culture. It is a celebration of all that is young, new and vibrant. The Festival’s Jongosi programme embodies the same values and helps to expand young people’s views of the world.

And of course the Festival provides employment: from the many thousands of bed nights which are generated throughout the district – in bed and breakfasts, hotels, private homes and holiday homes to the bustling restaurants and shopping centres who all benefit from the influx of people from throughout the country, to the village of Hilton.

For a list of nearby B&B's:

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For more information on The Hilton Arts Festival please visit the official website:

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