Economic development

New Cape Town Summer Market for 2015

Company Gardens_2015_Lisa Burnell (6)

This year, the Cape Town Summer Market will take place from 18 to 22 December 2015 in the Company’s Garden. To cater for city workers and families, trading will begin and end earlier than in previous years. This article explains the reasoning behind the new market format.

Some form of a festive season market has operated in the Cape Town CBD for the past 15 years. However, these have not always been economic successes. Now, in an uncertain economic environment and with increased competition, it is imperative to create a viable business model and sustainable experience for all stakeholders. More recently, a number of markets have sprung up all over the city. For the most part, these new markets are self-funded and successful business ventures.

The history of previous iterations of festive season markets in the central city – the successes and failures – has been carefully considered in curating this year’s Cape Town Summer Market. Change is never easy, but in order to create a festive season market offering that is beneficial to all, role players and participants are urged to adopt a long-term view and to carefully consider an innovative and due diligence based approach.

The Cape Town Summer Market seeks to emulate the successes of newer market entrants, while at the same time creating an experience that is socially cohesive for visitors and lucrative for traders. In order for this to happen, the focus necessarily shifted from the Cape Town Summer Market being a popular entertainment based model, to one where trade and the experience are the key drivers. In order to achieve this, particular focus has been placed on the trader mix and experiences that create an emotional resonance with the visitor.

The role of the Cape Town Partnership

In early November 2015, the Cape Town Partnership was confirmed as the market operator of the Cape Town Summer Market by the City of Cape Town. The concept underpinning this year’s market looks at linking the unique character of Cape Town’s existing markets in public spaces, to a manageable and transparent market format over the festive season. It is important to note that this year’s market is a learning space to see what works and what doesn’t. Through collaboration and testing, it is intended that the correct form can be identified and implemented.

Market principles

The principles around which the new Cape Town Summer Market has been designed are as follows:

Link the unique character of public spaces to create a memorable experience

Past expressions of the Cape Town Summer Market have experienced a disconnect with venue, activity and flow. For markets to be successful, both physical layout and character must fit the location.

More manageable scale

Another important learning from the research conducted on past festive season markets, including the Adderley Street Night Market, is the need to scale down. Large monotone markets lack obvious diversity. Smaller-scale market experiences are more conducive to expressing the diversity of culture, goods and people within the city. Additionally this makes room to build more meaningful collaborative relationships within trading teams.

Intentional spread of profits to participants

In addition to a smaller scale management platform conducive to growing small scale business, it is critical to ensure the sustainability of the market and as importantly, to open opportunities within the informal sector for creativity and excellence.

Think market

Linked to an appropriately sized management structure and an innovative business model, is plotting and documenting variables, experiences and finances in such a way as to feed into developing management and policy thinking on markets in the inner city. The Cape Town Summer Market will provide a valuable testing ground for information sharing on infrastructure, security, market diversity and demand.

What can I expect from the Cape Town Summer Market?

Expect a memorable, local, diverse and organised market.


Because the layout and character of the market will fit well with the setting of the Company’s Garden. Stalls will be clustered in areas around the garden to create a diverse market experience for customers.


Because locally produced goods will be prioritised throughout. There will be a balance of local and imported goods, and a range of price points within each cluster to meet as broad a selection of tastes and pockets as possible. This will also help spread the customer spend between traders. A mix of local entertainment options at selected areas throughout the area will mark a change from previous amplified music concerts.


A wide variety of quality products catering to a range of price-points attract loyal customers. All of Cape Town’s communities were welcomed and encouraged to contribute to making the market a safe, family-friendly environment.


The point of the market is to create a good business environment for traders by attracting customers while at the same time ensuring that the market is fun for all.

What you need to know


18-22 December 2015

Trading times
Friday 18 December: 12pm to 8pm
Saturday 19 December: 10am to 11pm
Sunday 20 December: 10am to 11pm
Monday 21 December: 12pm to 11pm
Tuesday 22 December: 12pm to 11m

Company’s Garden

Parking will be available at a nominal rate of R20 per entry on the grounds of Cape Town High School

Traffic management
In conjunction with the City’s Road Traffic Department, a comprehensive traffic management system has been designed to accommodate increased traffic over the five days

 Interested? Read similar articles

Read the City of Cape Town’s press release: Cape Town Summer Market set to enchant once again
• Zarina Nteta on 3 Challenges for informal traders
• Lwandile Fikeni introduces the people of the Company’s Garden
• Zarina Nteta explores how markets are the economic heartbeat of a city

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