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UMDWEBO FESTIVAL (article first published : 2007-10-1)

The KwaDukuza Coast hosts the third annual Umdwebo festival - the highly successful and immensely popular lifestyle festival in and around Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal, from November 9 to 17. Umdwebo offers a fantastic range of visual art, lecture-demonstrations, food and liquor tastings, live theatre, music, the legendary ladies lunch and the Umdwebo’s signature event, the barefoot gala dinner-dance on the beach.

A first for the festival is the Umdwebo Cook Off - East meets West meets South at the Gateway Theatre of Shopping in association with Christina Martin School of Cooking. Three professional chefs from three different walks of life; one Eastern chef with an Indian influence, a Western Chef with a Continental approach and a South African chef who brings a traditional local slant to the mix, will spin their magic. Each chef will be supplied with the same ingredients and will be allowed to bring one “magic” ingredient to create a three course meal. Guests will also be treated to wine by award-winning Stables Wine Estate from the Midlands. This highly interactive and lively event is a fast-paced and fun way to learn a few more tricks in the kitchen.

Another new addition to the festival is a fun family event - the Palm Lakes Estate Open Air Drive-In screening of a double feature of Dirty Dancing and Saturday Night Fever at the Ballito Lifestyle Centre. It celebrates the 20th anniversary of the release of Dirty Dancing and the 30th anniversary of the release of Saturday Night Fever. The Lifestyle centre will be transformed into a classic drive-in setting with waitresses on roller skates taking orders from car windows and the smell of freshly popped popcorn, sponsored by ACT II microwave popcorn, wafting through the air. The restaurants at the Lifestyle centre will have a street café set up alongside the car area, for those who want a more substantial meal.

The inimitable Laurika Rauch will perform at Sibaya Casino & Entertainment Kingdom’s Krakatoa. Her singing career was launched in 1976, with the beginning of television in South Africa and when her first solo recording Kinders van die Wind hit the airwaves as the theme song of a television series, she had an instant hit. Her debut album, Debuut, attained gold status within weeks of the release on the strength of the success of Kinders van die Wind. Since then, she has produced 17 albums as well as starting her production company and has embarked on various projects both nationally and internationally. This is Laurika Rauch’s first performance in the province in 15 years.

The Poetry, Port and Pudding evening held at the Umami Restaurant in Salt Rock, is set in an intimate, relaxed and comfy lounge environment. The evening will kick off with a poetry reading by leading South African authors and storytellers. Guests will be able to enjoy port and Lindt chocolate-based puddings prepared by Food Matters with port from Stables Wine Estate.

The Umdwebo Gentleman’s Club - a whisky, cigar and blackjack evening is back by popular demand from the gentleman in KwaDukuza who attended the 2003 cigar tasting evening. The evening will be an interactive affair, with three whisky and cigar tastings, followed by an interactive educational Blackjack lecture-demo. Guests will be taught the finer art and etiquettes associated with these fine elements of living. This event will be hosted in the stylish Virginia Bar at Sibaya Casino & Entertainment Kingdom.

The much-talked about Ladies that Lunch event has this year as its theme What’s in a Name?. A truly elegant affair, on arrival ladies are treated to a glass of Veuve Clicqout Ponsardin Champagne to complement a delicious and elegant three-course meal prepared by renowned chef Floris Smith of the Relais Château Hotel Izulu. The entertainment includes an interactive fashion show, showcasing beautiful handbags, belts and accessories from world leading brand names: hence the title, What’s in a Name?. Models will be dressed by award-winning fashion designer Maryke and models will be provided by Jenni Rivett from Jenergy! (fitness guru to the likes of Princess Diana and Liz Hurley). Jenni Rivett, who now lives in Ballito, will also give an informal talk about the importance of fitness for woman. An Environ Skin Care representative will give a talk on the importance skin care in our climate, and will include give-away prizes and gift hampers. A fun new addition is a demonstration called Empowering woman though self defence. The ladies will also be treated to wine from the Boschendal Wine Estate.

Legendary Gcina Mhlope gives the Luthuli retrospective lecture for 2007 at the Luthuli Museum in Groutville. This year marks the 40th anniversary of Chief Luthuli’s death and Gcina has been invited to conduct this lecture as she was friends with Albert and his wife Nokukhanya. Gcina wrote poems and recorded songs about them and performed a play for them as well as writing the introduction to the biography on Nokukhanya.

Cognac Coffee and Chocolate at the Relais Château Hotel Izulu in Ballito makes a welcome return featuring cognac by Courvoisier, coffee by Beaver Creek and chocolate by Lindt. The tasting is an interactive affair, with the connoisseurs lecturing about the finer qualities and tastes of their products. The audience will participate in a fun mix ‘n match of the various flavours and compare how they fared against the experts.

The Izulu Theatre at Sibaya Casino & Entertainment Kingdom plays host to the Business Connexion Opera Concert featuring world renowned and internationally acclaimed Mimi Coertse with The Black Tie Ensemble. The Ensemble will perform a selection of famous and well-known opera, operetta and musical arias by Puccini, Bizet, Verdi, Gounod, Offenbach, Von Flotow, Saint-Saëns, Donizetti, Tosti, Leoncavallo and more. Mimi Coertse will give background information about the arias performed, sharing stories with the audience about her illustrious career, making the music accessible to a wide audience.

The festival closes with the Black Tie, Ballroom Gown but NO shoes Gala Dinner, A Glamorous Affair presented by the Ballito Lifestyle Centre. Truly the highlight and signature event of the festival, the Gala Dinner takes place on Salt Rock Beach. As the moon rises over the sea, the beach area will welcome barefooted guests, dressed in black ties and ballroom gowns (but no shoes) to an exquisite fantasy setting. The theme this year is A Glamorous Affair and guests will be transported by East Coast Radio DJ Trevor Williams to the music and theme of the magical 70s and 80s. A superb, five-course meal, by Jacqui Rey, will be served at elegantly set tables, complimented by a unique selection of wines by Stables Wine Estate. Gearhouse will provide a light and sound extravaganza, as patrons dance the night away, barefoot, on the beach.

Kizo Art Consultants will once again curate an exhibition of works featuring the likes of Anthony Wakaba Mutheki, Meyer Ernst and others. These works will be exhibited at the various events during the festival.

Booking for all events is through Computicket. Festival Queries to Henk Swanepoel on 082 444 1825 or e-mail info@umdwebo.co.za Full details can be found on www.umdwebo.co.za




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