Festivals and Events in Africa
Minstrel Carnival, Cape Town Cape Town locals bring in each New Year with a wild carnival. Colorful costumes and marching bands parade through the streets ensuring that the whole city needs a lie-in on 2nd January.
Festival au Desert, Mali Close to Timbuktu, this three day festival hosts acts from West Africa and Europe while guests camp in the desert and get around on camels.
Amazigh New Year, North Africa The Maghreb people celebrate New Year’s Eve on the 12th January in accordance with their Julian calendar. Couscous and chicken are served without spicy or bitter foods.
Festival on the Niger, Mali Celebrating the traditions and music of the Segou people, this huge festival draws many famed West African musicians as well as featuring a trade fair of local arts and crafts including pottery, textiles, jewelry and sculpture.
Cape Town Pride, South Africa This ten day celebration is one of Africa’s largest gay events. The second Saturday sees a huge parade but every day is a party or celebration of some kind.
Sauti za Busara Swahili Music Festival, Zanzibar, Tanzania Hosting regional music, dance and theater, this five day festival is a sight to behold.
Marathon des Sables, Morocco This huge sand marathon in the Moroccan desert runs over six days and attracts 600 international competitors each year. Contenders must carry all equipment and cook for themselves.
Cape Town International Jazz Festival, South Africa The biggest jazz festival in Southern Africa attracts artists from all over the world to perform over two days. Tickets sell out very fast so it is important to book in advance.
Mediterranean Guitar Festival, Tunisia Featuring international guitarists, this vibrant festival was inspired by local fans of the incredible Django Reinhardt.
Holi, Mauritius The Hindu festival of color is celebrated with zeal in Mauritius. Unsuspecting passersby are sprayed with dyes of every color.
Sham el Nessim, Egypt This spring festival whose name means ‘sniffing the breeze’ is celebrated all over Egypt by families picnicking in public spaces. Traditional foods include colorful boiled eggs, salted fish and green onions.
Matisong Festival, Botswana This annual arts festival plays host to theater acts, traditional dance and music, choirs and marimba bands while food vendors sell tasty delicacies.
Jazz in Carthage, Tunisia One of North Africa’s biggest jazz festivals attracts international world class acts.
Addo Elephant Marathon, South Africa Held in a stunning wildlife park close to Port Elizabeth, this festival features extremely fit and fearless folk running alongside elephants and lions each year.
International Labor Day Celebrated throughout the continent each 1st May, this international event is taken more seriously in some cities than others, with parades and festivities commemorating workers.
Rose Festival, Morocco Held in the beautiful Dades Valley, this festival celebrates the rose harvest at a time when the whole town is scented with the delicate perfume of roses.
Roots Festival, Gambia This annual event invites people of African origin to return to Africa to enjoy a week of cultural celebration. Dance and music sit alongside educational workshops detailing the history of the slave trade.
Fez Festival of World Sacred Music, Morocco Dancers from around the world meet annually in Fez alongside a festival celebrating the city’s local culture.
National Arts Festival, South Africa Grahamstown holds this wonderful annual event where artists of every kind from ballerinas to techno DJs convene. The exciting fringe festival runs concurrently.
Durban International Film Festival, South Africa Showcasing the best of South African movies, this film festival is held throughout the district of Durban. International films are also celebrated.
Festival of the Dhow Countries, Tanzania This annual event occurs on the island of Zanzibar and involves music, dance and film as well as dhow races.
Panafest, Ghana Held every two years, this festival celebrates music, dance and theater dedicated to the development of Africa.
Maralal Camel Derby, Kenya This international event was started in order to promote the wonderful camel and it now attracts an international crowd. Most people camp on the grounds and families are very welcome.
Stellenbosch Wine Festival, South Africa Located in South Africa’s best wine producing region, this festival enables the public to sample more than 500 wines with music and wine tasting lessons on the side.
Ramadan Held throughout Islamic Africa, Ramadan encourages every devout Muslim to fast between sunrise and sundown for 30 days. Travelers should remember to be culturally sensitive. Eid is the celebration which marks the end of the festival.
Eke Ekpe Festival, Togo This voodoo festival celebrates the new year of the Guen tribe close to the capital city of Lome. Highly structured rituals are performed in the attempt to pacify the evil spirits.
Fetu Afahye, Ghana Ghana’s harvest festival is celebrated by offering mashed yams to the gods to the sound of drumming and the firing of muskets. Village chiefs and traditional priests wear their most colorful and elaborate outfits.
Abu Simbel Festival, Egypt Located next to Giza’s pyramids, the ancient monument of Abu Simbel is the venue for this celebration. Architecture and strong sunlight come together to light the inner chamber of the monument to the accompaniment of food, dance and music.
Lake of the Stars Festival, Malawi Showcasing both national and international musicians, this festival is set on the stunning shores of Lake Malawi. Money raised is donated to the Children in the Wilderness charity.
Kreol Festival, The Seychelles Creole food and music are offered at this happy little annual festival.
Diwali, Mauritius The Hindu Festival of Light is celebrated in style in Mauritius, with fireworks lighting up the sky and tasty sweets being served throughout the country.
Mombasa Carnival, Kenya Attracting artists from all over the country, this carnival brings Kenya’s many tribes together to parade in their colorful costumes.
Woodstock, South Africa Luring more than 15,000 young people each year, this festival showcases extreme sports people and musicians. Tasty snacks are on sale from stalls spread amongst street performers and artists.
Ncwala Festival, Swaziland Swaziland’s largest festival is held to remember the ancestors and celebrate the harvest. Starting in December, the exact timings are decided by astrologers each year.
Thousand Stars Rift Valley Music Festival, Ethiopia This festival brings together over 50 tribes in a celebration of heritage and culture. Three days of dance and music occurs in the stunning location of the Rift Valley.
National Festival of the Sahara, Tunisia This incredible festival attracts over 50,000 people annually and is set in the heart of the desert. Visitors enjoy camel racing, feasting, singing and dancing.