Hilton Arts Festival

The Midlands MagazineOctober 13, 2022

From theatre to crafts, there was something different for everyone to enjoy as we celebrated 30 years of creativity and talent. As we are now on the back-end of the Hilton Arts Festival, we look back what the festival had to offer this year.

From a small and spontaneous event 30 years ago, the Hilton Arts Festival has grown to be the largest cultural event in KwaZulu-Natal and one of the biggest theatre festivals in the country. It holds significant value to the theatre world, the allied support industries, and tourism in the community.

The Festival brought back the pick of South African theatre for the weekend and, simultaneously, created a platform for music, visual arts, and crafts. The result was a magical weekend of entertainment and lifestyle offerings, suitable for the whole family, all within the safe and secure grounds of the prestigious Hilton College.


The spin-off benefit to tourism is enormous: hotels, B&B’s, restaurants, and other arts-related tourist attractions were proudly patronised. The Festival attracts approximately 25 000 people.

There was a wide selection of quality theatre, music, comedy, kids’ entertainment, and food on offer – you could even participate in a bird walk guided by the internationally acclaimed company, Rockjumper. Sue Clarence, the Festival Director and the person who dreamt it all up says, “There is something to suit everyone’s taste. Whether you wish to browse around the visual art displays, shop in the specially curated craft market, chill with good food and drinks whilst listening to live music, watch a show, or watch the world go by, we have it all for you.”

Clarence continues, giving her pick of shows for a weekend of culture. “Everything has been chosen because, within its genre, it is of excellent quality. The programme gives you info on all productions. Here is my choice for a relaxing, entertaining weekend.”

Firefly is a passionate tale of moon-crossed love, betrayal, revenge, and desire brilliantly told by theatre legends Andrew Buckland and Sylvaine Strike, who deliver performances that will thrill, move, and delight. An hour of pure magic!

Urban Circus is a love letter to the thrilling acrobatics of big city life! A talented troupe of Johannesburg’s hottest circus artistes will take the audience on a wheel-spinning, nail-biting, day-dreaming escapade through the city. It shows the city’s inhabitants as they strive, survive, and thrive in a delicate and dextrous dance through the intoxicating frenzy of urban life. Urban Circus is brought to you by an exciting collaboration between the brilliant Jozi circus company, The Cirk, and well-known physical theatre practitioner and Cirque du Soleil alumnus, Daniel Buckland.

If it is music you are after, look no further – we have a venue dedicated to music from tributes to Eva Cassidy, Noel Coward, Ivor Novello, and Cole Porter to the internet father and daughter sensation Adrian and Emma-Jean Galliard, who enthralled the nation online during lockdown with their singing and, intriguingly, a cabaret about Vincent van Gogh.

And there is a musical! The Last Five Years, an award-winning musical by the composer of The Bridges Of Madison County, Jason Robert Brown, is a drama-comedy telling the bittersweet story of love found and love lost.

Comedy abounds with John Vlismas, Aaron McIlroy, Lisa Bobbert, and others. There is something for all – whether you are six or 96!