Created by Katleho Ramaphakela and Rethabile Ramaphakela, Netflix’s ‘How to Ruin Christmas’ is a South African comedy series that follows Tumi Sello, a free-spirited and rebellious young woman who is known to make a mess of everything she touches. Now, when she returns to her dysfunctional family for the Christmas holidays for the first time in years, she somehow manages to spoil her younger sister’s wedding. After ruining the wedding before it even takes place, Tumi desperately tries to turn the situation around and correct things to redeem herself.
The sitcom is made all the more hilarious and entertaining thanks to impressive onscreen performances from a talented ensemble comprising the late Busi Lurayi, Thando Thabethe, Clementine Mosimane, and Yonda Thomas. At the same time, the different locations through each season are likely to spark some questions about the actual filming sites of ‘How to Ruin Christmas.’ If you have some questions regarding the same, we have you covered!
How to Ruin Christmas Filming Locations
‘How to Ruin Christmas’ is filmed entirely in South Africa, specifically in the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality and KwaZulu-Natal. The shooting for the inaugural iteration began in August 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic and concluded in September of the same year. As for the sophomore season, production took place in the summer of 2021 and halted for a while due to the ongoing riots on location.
The principal photography for the third season reportedly commenced in June 2022 and seemingly wrapped up in July of the same year. Unfortunately, in July 2022, Busi Lurayi tragically passed away for unrevealed reasons. So, without much ado, let us take you through all the specific sites where the Netflix series is shot!
City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, South Africa
Many pivotal sequences for ‘How to Ruin Christmas,’ especially the first and third seasons, are lensed in the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, a metropolitan municipality centered around the eponymous city. The wedding scenes portrayed in the first season were taped on location at the Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff at 67 Jan Smuts Avenue in Westcliff. Moreover, several key scenes for the third season were recorded in and around KONKA Soweto at Modjaji Street in Pimville Zone 7, Pimville.
In a December 2020 interview with Glamour, Thando Thabethe was asked about her production highlights from season 1, to which she replied, “We filmed the series inside a bubble, in a hotel for five weeks. We had no contact with the outside world – we couldn’t even go to the shops. I think what that did was create a tight-knit circle, a greater production. We all got close, and the relationships you see on screen became true reflections. It was one big, fat party, much like a wedding. Being stuck together was a highlight.”
KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
For shooting purposes, the cast and crew members of ‘How to Ruin Christmas’ also set up camp in KwaZulu-Natal, the second most populous province in South Africa. Most of the sophomore season was lensed across the province, in different locales, including Inanda, Ballito, Durban, Durban North, and Umhlanga. In addition, the Beverly Hills Hotel at 1 Lighthouse Road uMhlanga Rocks in Durban also served as a pivotal production location.
In a December 2021 interview with The South African, director Rethabile Ramaphakela explained what it was like to shoot the series’ second season during the riots in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. She said, “…We actually had to get the cast and crew out of KZN in, and it was tough because we had trucks. And you know, at that time, trucks were being burned at some of the toll gates, so it was really, really scary.”
Ramaphakele added, “The crew was confined to a hotel room, they did not go anywhere, and they couldn’t even get basic medical supplies and stuff. It was really, really real, I think behind the scenes was like how to ruin a production. You could see the effects like when we went to see you, then you can see the burned down buildings.” Despite all the commotion, she revealed that they were still able to capture the beauty of KZN. She explained, “We went to Inanda. That excites me more… I don’t think Inanda has been shown in that way. The house you wouldn’t have thought of that house in the area and to even see the dam. When we went location scouting, I was like this is so beautiful.”
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