Every year, visitors flock to the charming Karoo village of Prince Albert, a true oasis of beauty and culture. Nestled at the foot of the mighty Swartberg Pass, it is home to gorgeous Victorian architecture, artists of various mediums, fabulous restaurants and bars, yoga retreats and homegrown produce.
But below the surface of this fantastic offering, the town has grown on locals for reasons that weekend visitors seldom have the joy of discovering. The communal clubs, markets, projects and gatherings all contribute to create Prince Albert’s unique feeling of being an authentic South African dorpie.
If you’re in the area over the Easter weekend or the winter months, you’d do well to check out these hidden gems.
Every quarter of the year, the village hosts the Moonlight Market in the village square (the next one is on Friday, 19 April). Villagers and visitors come together for an evening of mingling and enjoy delicious fare from local vendors. No alcohol is sold, but you are allowed to bring your own as long as you keep it classy.
Saturday morning market
Prince Albert’s Saturday morning market is a beloved local institution and is held every Saturday morning on the square next to the Fransie Pienaar Museum. Enjoy everything from dried fruit, homemade jams, pickles, cakes and bread, patés, fresh fruit, free-range eggs and organic vegetables to herbs and plants and arts and crafts.
The Thursday Club is a special group of ladies who, for many years, have been quietly getting on with various charity projects in Prince Albert. They sell second-hand items – including clothes and books – at the White Elephant Stall at the Saturday Market next to the Museum.
Pop-up charity shop
Located across the road from the Showroom Theatre, the Pop-up Shop – or Yellow Shop – is the Thursday Club’s new project. It mainly sells second-hand clothing and shoes and has become especially popular with cool kids and teenagers who are after a retro look.
The Karoo Labyrinth
The Karoo Labyrinth is located in the garden at St John the Baptist Church in Bank Street and is constructed from local Prince Albert materials and indigenous plants. Anyone is welcome to walk the labyrinth and spend some time in contemplation.
PADS Animal Welfare
Prince Albert Dieresorg/Animal Welfare (PADS) is a registered not-for-profit organisation (run by unpaid volunteers dependant wholly on public donations of money and materials. They take care of disadvantaged animals, educate pet owners and offer first-line nursing where needed.
Prince Albert Garden Club
The Prince Albert Garden Club meets on the first Wednesday of every month (except for January) for visits to local gardens or farms that have a particular interest, hosts a speaker or presents a film. Occasionally, a work party is assembled to tidy up a neglected area of town. An annual plant sale is held at the beginning of October.