If I didn’t know that there was a festival in Hermanus over the past 11 days I certainly would never have guessed it. There were no signs, no flags, no posters – absolutely nothing to indicate that there was in actual fact a tremendous line-up of events taking place. How visitors managed to find their way to all the different venues remains a mystery to me.

The festival seems to take place in a cocoon of its own without involving the rest of the town. I never noticed more people in town or an increase in traffic, not even over the weekends. Where did all the festivalgoers go? Why were they not strolling around, browsing our beautiful little shops and galleries, or enjoying our fabulous restaurants and coffee shops?

I was so embarrassed when I encouraged friends of ours to visit over the long weekend – after all, there is a festival going on! Big was our disappointment when on Saturday afternoon we decided to visit some galleries and found several had closed their doors for the day. We then sat down at a popular venue to have a bite to eat and drink, which was lovely but the place was almost empty and the atmosphere was all but festive.

The same thing happened that evening when our friends wanted to meet up after a concert they had booked tickets for. It was only 9pm but Hermanus resembled a ghost town and the restaurants were either closed or deserted and on the verge of closing. At least we managed to get a table and were served some dinner, but our friends were perplexed to find a town that dead on a Saturday night.

The last thing they wanted to do before returning home on Sunday was to visit a particular wine estate that had a special exhibition. All the way up the valley we went, only to end up in front of a closed door. And yes, I know it was a Sunday, but it was also a long weekend and, dare I say it again, there was supposed to be a festival going on? Can someone please remind the rest of town to come to the party, even if it is only once a year?

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