First Thursdays, Cape Town, South Africa

Injecting life into the city by reclaiming public space


Cape Town is a city known to possess many attributes. Rich in arts and culture, the Mother City is also an innovator and a cultivator of cool. First Thursdays is a combination of these two qualities. On the first Thursday of every month, arts and culture in Cape Town has a late night, with dozens of art galleries and cultural events showcasing the wealth of talent that the Mother City has to offer – hence the name First Thursdays. The event is completely free, with no structured tour, and no schedule to follow, people are free to absorb it all at your own leisure.


  • More than 50 galleries and 30 other businesses involved
  • During the first edition in 2012, 3,000 people attended First Thursdays events. Today, more than 20,000 people take part of these events every year.
  • Creation of First Thursdays in Johannesburg

Did you know?

First Thursdays is more than just an evening of art. Yes, the galleries are the big draw, but as the sun sets on the city, the bars and restaurants join in, while the locals spill out onto the streets, creating an electric vibe, drawing on the heady mix of local arts and culture and food and drink.

Sustainability and Replicability

First Thursdays does not receive any funding from the government. The project depends on the collaboration between galleries, local shops, restaurants and people that want to take part in the program.

First Thursdays was created a few years ago in London. A group of young people decided to replicate it in Cape Town. Now, other cities can be inspired by Cape Town´s experience and launch similar initiatives. Sharing challenges and best practices between the organizers of these events in different cities can help to spread First Thursdays around the world.

Lessons learned

Opening galleries for free until late at night one day a month is a way to encourage people from different backgrounds to appreciate art and culture and to discover new parts of the city.

Take action

Would you like to start First Thursdays in your city? Learn more about how London and Cape Town started this adventure.

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