Cape Town - Take advantage of another long weekend from April 27 to May 1, with a drive along the Garden Route, and release your inner whimsies at the Malebooth Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival 2017.
Knysna's forests will be turned into a flamboyant fantasy world filled with everything from fairies to bears and all sorts of royalty for the annual celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) culture and identity.
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From 26 April to 1 May, the festival - which is now in its 17th year - will host a series of cultural, entertainment and community fundraising events. Be sure to soak in the celebration - don those big hairdos, high heels and glittering garments.
The picturesque town of Knysna will be transformed into a whimsical wonderland with “a storybook line-up of events and celebrations”.
"In these times of upheaval, we decided to offer a distraction from reality with a modern fairy-tale theme," says Pink Loerie's John O’Neil. "Our focus is on the magical diversity of our community and the creativity and colour it has to offer."
Jam-packed magical line-up
Returning this year are two popular features: the Bear Colony Festival - a furry gathering of the 'bear' community at Blackwaters River Lodge, and the Wigstock Festival - an outrageous celebration, through performance, of all things drag.
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Other entertainment and cultural events will include the launch of Bruce J. Little’s book Little Poof! Homonolgues, the Mr and Miss Mardi Gras pageants, a couture fashion show by acclaimed designer Peter Bondesio, an exhibition of LGBTQ+ themed art at Knysna Fine Arts, and a series of parties.
Jozi Cats, Africa's first gay and inclusive competitive rugby club, will also attend Pink Loerie 2017 and the Bear Colony Festival.
For the annual Street Parade, locals and travellers will gather along Main Road to cheer the procession of floats. This will be followed by the After Parade PIAZZA Party, performances by the Queens of Wigstock and the awarding of Best Dressed, Best Float and Best Window prizes.
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Making a difference
More serious issues will be brought to the fore with a new initiative: a workshop and fundraising dinner focusing on hate crimes and the visibility of black lesbians, whom, according to the Pink Loerie Foundation, are among the most vulnerable in the LGBTQ+ community.
"We hope to contribute and make a difference by addressing and highlighting the violence, stigma and discrimination faced by many LGBTQ+ people," says O’Neil.
Pink Loerie is also a major part of Knysna by boosting tourism and supporting local businesses and charities. As part of the festival’s contribution, a number of events will raise funds and reach out to the Loeriehof and Vermont retirement homes, Knysna Animal Welfare and the Paula Whitney Crèche.
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