First Thursdays are really what the name suggests. Taking place on the First Thursday of every month, Joburg opens its art galleries, museums and restaurants to evening visitors. The concept was originally started in Cape Town, and the city became an instant hive of activity from 5 pm on. Bree, Loop and Long Streets heave with revellers holding wine glasses, popping from one venue to another. Hosted in Braamfontein, Maboneng and Rosebank, the Joburg instalment of the cultural experience has taken on a life of its own. We thought we would put together a list of our recommendations of what to see and do if it is your first time!
If you are taking a mosey down Keys Avenue, Milk Bar is a definite stop! This African inspired gem opens for breakfast with some of the best coffee in town and serves lunch to Rosebank. As the sun sets, it morphs into a vibey bar perfect for that beer before you head to a gallery!
If you need to line your stomach before heading out, this is a great spot to hop into. This burger experience is a skip and jump away from the galleries that you absolutely must see. Although it has ample seating, it is not designed to be a sit-down experience, so it is ideal for a quick bite to eat!
If you are wanting to combine the gallery and sipping of cocktail experience, Marble is definitely the place to go. This gorgeously trendy concept is the brainchild of David Higgs. In the centre of the restaurant is the impressive wooden open fire grill. Should you choose to eat, you will do so surrounded by hand painted tiles and elaborate decoration. We know that not everyone can afford R280 for a chicken breast dish, but if you do simply want to expereince the vibe, cocktails at the bar, watching the sunset will definitely provide the same experience!
Mad Giant and Urbanologi
Moving into Johannesburg central, should you be milling around, this is a must-do! Living and breathing inside the Mad Giant Brewery is this Japanese street food inspired creation. It is beautifully put together and works together with the brewery to create a delicate and impressionable experience.
This is definitely the place you want to go to if you are looking to let your hair down a bit after the galleries. This bar transforms into a vibey dance club with local and international DJ’s dropping in. It is one of the oldest bars in Joburg, and they have kept most of the original fittings from 100 years ago.
A great spot to grab a pizza in between the galleries. It is the perfect combination of vibey, eclectic and trendy for some down time to relax. The culture of art, music and current affairs is celebrated in this hipster bar, making it a perfect drop in for First Thursdays!
The Circa Gallery has become recognised as one of Johannesburg’s architectural landmarks. This gallery should be on the top of your list for your evening. It exhibits important contemporary works of art, as well as technology and architectural installations.
Africa’s oldest art galleries is certainly an important visit. The gallery has focused on working with pre-eminent artists since its inception and specialises in sourcing fine art from international artists. Expect to see contemporary paintings and sculptures as well as work from new artists.
With its birthplace being in Stellenbosch, this contemporary gallery opened in Johannesburg in 2011. It is a dynamic programme of exhibitions and curatorial projects. You can look forward to seeing artists like Jake Aikman, Leonce Raphael Agbodjélou and Lhola Amira among others.
Whatiftheworld and Southern Guild
Start your Braamfontein visit off with the collaboration of the Southern Guild and Whatiftheworld. It features contemporary art and collectable design with a strong focus on leading artists and designers from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal and South Africa.
Created by M.J Turpin and Matthew Dean Dowdle, this is a passion project created to push the boundaries of traditional galleries. It is a hybrid space of independent artist run space, project space and commercial gallery space.
This is a region specific exhibition with galleries in Cape Town and Johannesburg. It has brought the work of people like Francis Alÿs, Rineke Dijkstra, Thomas Hirschhorn, Glenn Ligon and Walid Raad to South Africa.