THERE'S one thing to be said for Grahamstown in the middle of winter. If you're lucky enought to score a warm, sunny day, it's glorious.
The City of Saints treated its somewhat inflated population at this time of year to a stunner of clear skies, no wind and soft, gentle sunshine and the effect on the thousands of visitors to the National Arts Festival was heart-warming in itself.
The Village Green - which was flooded out last year following a deluge - was like a beach party sans the sea on Sunday, with festinos wandering around in T-shirts, kids munching on wors rolls and candy floss, and young and old stretching out and sipping wine and draught outside the beer tent (whereas everyone's usually huddled inside). It was a terrfic atmosphere to say the least - and great that the good weather arrived when festival numbers are at a peak.
Journos were hosted to a delicious brunch at the Cock House by the organisers and such were the prevailing conditions, that CEO Tony Lankester was able, for the first time that I can remember, able to deliver his traditional chat outside in the guest house's garden where, he dryly observed with birds twittering in the trees, he could also pick up some "tweets".
Us usual, he was coy about releasing festival numbers too early - which makes perfect sense. If they're very good so far, people outside Grahamstown will assume every show is fully booked and cancel any plans they may have had of going to the fest. And of course, if the figures are not that high, people will think the event is a flop and also be put off.
What the amiable chief executive did let us know was that an Arts Journalist of the Year awards event will be introduced next year which of course, put a smile on the faces of the arts scribes present as they nibbled on their spring rolls and spinach quiche, and sipped tea.
The festival at the start of a fresh week now moves into the next gear and so here are some of the highlights we've managed to pinpoint so far which are all happening today:
Theatre: "Miss Julie", directed by Yael Farber (Rhodes Box Theatre, at 2pm and 6.30pm)
Theatre: "Race", with Michael Richard and Sello Maake Ka-Ncube (Graeme College, at 8pm)
Music: "Kelebogile Boikanyo Vocal Recital", the 2012 Young Artist for Music (Rhodes Chapel, at 7pm)
Music: "Louis Armstrong and Friends", with the KwaZulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestra (Guy Butler Theatre, at 2pm)
Dance: "Moffie", with choreography by Bailey Snyman (Alec Mullins, at 6.30pm)
Dance: "Southern Exposure", with the Flatfoot Dance Company (Centenary Hall, at 12 noon and 8pm)
Jazz: "South African-Swedish Youth Big Band" (DSG Auditorium, at 12 noon)
JAZZ: "Youth Jazz Choirs and Vocal Soloists", with young jazz artists from around the country (DSG Auditorium, at 9pm)
Physical Theatre: "Reverse", with Greg Melvill-Smith and Craig Morris (The Hangar, at 4pm)
Performance Art: "Exhibit A", created by Brett Bailey (Gadra Matric School, 10am, 10.45am, 12 noon, 12.45pm, 6pm, 6.45pm, 8pm and 8.45pm)
Drama: "Tonight, Neither Hamet" (Princess Alice Hall, at 6pm)
Drama: "Seashells" (Gymnasium, at 9pm)
Music Theatre/Cabaret: :Coward and Cole" (Albany Cabaret Club, at 11am)
Music: "Guy Buttery" (Cuervo Music Room, at 7.30pm)
Physical Theatre: "The Dogs Must be Crazy" (PJ's, at 9.30pm)
Comedy: "Race Card" (Scout Hall, at 12 noon)
Comedy: "Pants on Fire" (Princess Alice Hall, at 10pm)