Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water, along came 2021, a second year of the Coronavirus pandemic that rolled in with even more drama than the first one!
It hasn’t all been clouds of course and at Johannesburg In Your Pocket we always choose to look to the positives and celebrate the good things about life in this city. 2021 certainly has been a year to remember.
Here’s a look back at some of our biggest highlights from this year
In February 2021 we launched our Roaming Office, moving our team to work remotely, together, from a different Joburg hotel workspace every week. The Roaming Office not only helped us ace the remote working lifestyle after giving up our office rental in 2020, as a tourism business it also helped us reconnect with our hospitality partners and refresh our knowledge about what’s happening at Joburg’s hotels after lockdown.
Through 2021 we visited 21 different hotels, ranging from small boutique venues to countryside retreats and the city’s finest luxury destinations. You can catch up on all our Roaming Office reviews here.
New restaurants, hotels and bars storm the scene
Despite the many trials and tribulations faced by the local hospitality industry during the pandemic, Joburg’s hotel and dining scenes continues to grow and we’ve seen a host of fantastic new venues launch this year.
Our favourite new venues launched in 2021 include; the Radisson Red Hotel Rosebank, Luke Dale Roberts’ Shortmarket Club, the glitzy Tang on Nelson Mandela Square, the long-awaited Mr Pants wine bar in Blairgowrie, the luxury boutique hotel Sanctuary Mandela in Houghton, Farmhouse the rustic new retreat adjacent to Nirox Sculpture Park, the buzzing Proud Mary restaurant at the voco The Bank in Rosebank, cocktail bar Sin + Tax‘s cool new courtyard, the revamped Tashas le Parc at Hyde Park Corner and The Troyeville Hotel‘s new rooftop bar to name just a few!
In autumn 2021 we rolled out our debut online guide to visiting the Kruger. From where to stay and what to see on the road trip from Joburg, to how to navigate a first-time trip to the Kruger National Park, our Kruger In Your Pocket guide is packed with tips and recommendations for how and where to enjoy the most memorable Kruger holiday. Explore our Kruger In Your Pocket guide here.
Remember July? Or maybe you are still trying to forget about it… Accelerated by the new Delta variant, the third wave of Coronavirus infections in South Africa was the most vicious yet and in June the country entered a Level 4 lockdown. Travel was restricted, alcohol was banned and restaurants could operate only on a takeaway basis. Then in early July the country was shaken by shocking unrest and looting in parts of KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng.
Keeping spirits alive during this especially dark period of the pandemic feels like a major achievement and one we don’t take lightly.
The rollout of South Africa’s vaccination programme during this challenging winter was a major milestone that lifted our spirits immensely.
Art fairs return!
One of our favourite annual features on the Joburg events calendar are the city’s contemporary art fairs. In response to the pandemic in 2020 all major fairs went online. Happily, in 2021 in-person art fairs made an exciting return and we were over the moon!
Turbine Art Fair kicked off in Illovo from Sep 30 to Oct 3 and in an innovative move was one of the first events in Joburg to request proof of vaccination or negative antigen tests from visitors.
From Oct 28 to 31 FNB Art Joburg returned with the new Open City celebration, four days days of pop-up exhibitions, art film screenings, gallery walkabouts and performances, taking place at more than a dozen venues in and around Rosebank. The annual fair returns to Sandton Convention Centre for its 15th edition from Sep 1-4, 2022.
New to the art calendar this year was the Design Joburg Collective, a lively weekend of design pop-ups, talks and showrooms that took over the streets of the Kramerville Design district for a winter and summer edition.
Also new this year were the brilliant Joint Open Studios weekends that saw Joburg’s biggest inner-city artist studios hosting open days simultaneously.
With all these new-look art fairs having established a space for themselves in 2021, the upcoming 2022 art calendars is looking seriously interesting.
Jacaranda In Your Pocket
Every spring we celebrate Gauteng’s jacaranda season with our annual jacaranda photography competition. This year’s competition was our biggest yet with three top hotel stays up for grabs for the 2021 winners chosen by popular vote.
Supported by Gauteng Tourism, Gautrain and Radisson Red Rosebank, in conjunction with our 2021 competition we organised six free guided jacaranda experiences, with a focus on photography. The walks, e-scooter and cycling tours followed different trails through the purple streets of Rosebank and surrounds, ending with drinks and an incredible from the Radisson Red Rosebank rooftop. Catch up on this year’s #jacarandainyourpocket photography final here.
On Sun Nov 28 we hosted our first ticketed Johannesburg In Your Pocket experience, inviting our readers to join us for a Sunday evening sunset drive up to Munro Drive.
We teamed up with the City Sightseeing red bus, Chocoloza chocolates and Pink Valley wines for this special experience that plotted a scenic route through the suburbs to the Munro Drive lookout point. At Munro Drive we then disembarked to enjoy the spectacular panoramic sunset views over chocolates and wine.
The Sunset Rosé experience was the first in what we plan to make a regular series of unique city adventures. In 2022 we are excited to be launching our Johannesburg In Your Pocket members club, offering our members special invites to city events, ticketed unique experiences, exclusive content and discounts.