Cultural Festivals – Africa


Africa is the festival continent. Throughout the whole continent, colourful and vibrant festivals range through musical, religous, cultural and harvest to name just a few.
Recommended Book
African Ceremonies
an outstanding two-volume survey of the continent’s rituals, rites and ceremonies. Divided into six sectionsAbirth and initiation; courtship and marriage; royalty and power; seasonal rites; beliefs and worship; spirits and ancestorsAthe set documents 43 ceremonies in 26 countries. In addition to the more than 800 arresting color photographs, the text respectfully details each ceremony.


Burkina Faso

Fespaco African Film Festival –
Festival Panafricain du Cinema et de la Television de Ouagadougou – FESPACO
The week-long festival is the largest African film festival more than 40,000 people are expected to attend. It will be held in the main stadium in the capital city, Ouagadougou.


Many festivals include thrilling durbars of chiefs, when tribal leaders and Queen Mothers process in decorated palanquins, shaded by the traditional umbrellas, and supported by drummers and warriors discharging ancient muskets. The dates of many festivals are determined by the traditional calendars, often decided close to the event.

Akwasidee festival – Festival of the Kings
Join paramount, divisional and sub chiefs to pay homage to Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, King of the powerful Asanteman Kingdom during the colourful spectacular that is the Akwasidee festival which is celebrated every 42 days (every sixth Sunday).

Aboakyir festival – May each year
This Festival is celebrated by the people of Simpa or Winneba in the Central Region of Ghana. The festival is a celebration to mark the migration of these people from the ancient Western Sudan Empire where they were led by 2 brothers and a god called Otu. Upon consulting their god, they were instructed by their traditional priest or mediator between the people and the god to sacrifice a young member of the Royal family every year to their god.

Panafest –
Panafest is a biennial festival of African dance, music and other performing arts that is held every two years in Ghana.
A cultural event dedicated to the enhancement of the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the development of the African continent. It is organized biennially for Africans and people of Africa descent as well as all persons committed to the well being of Africans on continent and in the diaspora. The essential thrust of PANAFEST is to enhance DEVELOPMENT.

The Homowo Festival – August/September
The word “Homowo” actually means ‘making fun of hunger.’ Our traditional oral history describes a time long ago when the rains stopped and the sea closed its gates. A deadly famine spread throughout the southern Accra Plains, the home of the Ga people. When the harvest finally arrived and food became plentiful, the people were so happy that they celebrated with a festival that ridiculed hunger.

The Hogbetsotso Festival
This is celebrated on the first Saturday of November every year by the Anlo Ewes of the Volta Region of Ghana. The essential feature of this festival is a magnificent durbar of chiefs and citizens. Hogbetsotso, generally known as “the festival of the Exodus” is held annually to commemorate the escape of the Anlo Ewes from the tyrannical ruler of Notsie – Agokoli of Togo. The chiefs appear on the durbar grounds in their most charming royal regalia and sit in state to acknowledge and receive homage from their subjects. The entire ceremony is laced with non-stop soul-stirring drumming and dancing

Ivory Coast

Bouake Carnival – towards end March- April
Another important event is the week long carnival in Bouaké each March, a festivity attracting thousands of visitors.

Fêtes des Masques (Festival of Masks) – November
One of Côte d’Ivoire’s most famous festivals is the Fêtes des Masques (Festival of Masks), which takes place in the region of Man occurs in November. Numerous small villages in the region hold contests to determine the best dancers and to pay homage to forest spirits who are embodied in the elaborate masks.

Fête du Dipri – April
Held in Gomon, near Abidjan, this festival starts around midnight, when women and children sneak out of their huts and, naked, carry out nocturnal rites to exorcise the village of evil spells. Before sunrise the chief appears, drums pound and villagers go into trances. The frenzy continues until late afternoon of the next day.


Festival in the Desert (Festival-au-Desert)
This is truly a one-of-a-kind experience! Visit the festival yourself with this 14 day itinerary
Billed as the “most remote music festival in the world” the Festival is a three-day Afro-pop powwow held by the Tuareg, the traditionally nomadic “blue people” of the Sahara. It’s a tribe often feared for the banditry of its rebels and respected for the fact that it has never really been conquered. Combining traditional Tuareg music and dance, camel races, and competitions during the day, the Festival comes alive at night with modern Malian music, which is becoming popular the world over from incorporation into music as diverse as that of Robert Plant and Paul Simon. Although the centerpoint of this trip is the Festival in the Desert in Essakane, the itinerary also includes more well-known Mali attractions such as Dogon country, Djenne, and Timbuctu. Visit the festival:-

Festival on the NigerJan/Feb Segou
tradional malian musique and dance, a Forum with theme “development trough culture and tourism”, a Fair with local art and food

Fête des Masques – April
The Dogons are famous for their masks and during the five-day event many of them are used in ritual ceremonies that go back more than 1000 years . At each Sigui festival, a new ceremonial mask is carved especially for the occasion, then placed in the Tellem caves. Remnants of these masks going back hundreds of years have been found in the caves.

Crossing of the cattle – December
The Cattle Crossing is the most important Fulani festival in Diafarabe. Every December, herders bring cattle from the grazing lands to the river at Diafarabe. Here everyone crosses the river. On the other side families are reunited for a few days, before they take the cattle to new pastures. The first day is the Promenade des Jeunes, when the unmarried men and women dress up to attract each other. There is also a competition to judge the fattest and best looked-after cattle, with useful prizes.


Durbar Festival – Oct
The Durbar festival is celebrated at the culmination of the two great Muslim festivals Id el Fitri and Id el Kabir. The festival gives a good idea of the past glories of the emirate before the influence of western culture.




International Camel Derby & Festival – August (TBC)
The Derby takes place at Maralal, Samburu District, centred at Yare Club & Camp, just four kilometres south of Maralal town on the Nyahururu road. . It is also a spectacular festival packed with a variety of events that draws visitors from all over the world. The Derby has been on the go since 1990, with entries from Australia, America, New Zealand, Canada, England, France, Spain, Japan, South Africa and beyond competing against the reigning Kenya champions in both the amateur and professional races. The route runs through semi-desert regions with varying levels of difficulty and camels (with or without handlers) are available to hire for those wishing to compete.

Nairobi International Book Fair
The emphasis is locally published books and magazines, but is now starting to attract the attention of publishers elsewhere in Africa and elsewhere overseas. Targets the publishing trade as well as the public. Up to 20,000 visitors, including schools groups. Provides a platform for the dynamic marketing and promotion service industry, and targets promotional book-signings, book-readings, book-launches and a comprehensive seminar programme.

The Schweppes East African Concours d’ Elegance
Nairobi Racecourse. The annual vehicle beauty contest organized by the Alfa Romeo Owners Club for all makes and types of cars, pick ups, station wagons and motorcycles.

Mombasa Carnival – November
The Mombasa carnival features parades and floats from every conceivable cultural, national and religious group in Kenya. There are two main parades which converge onto Moi Avenue which feature incredible floats, spectacular costumes and fantastic music.


The Wildebeest Migration:
The Wildebeest Migration in East Africa, also known as “The Great Migration” takes place between Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and Kenya’s Masai Mara and is one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on the planet.

Thousands of wildebeest and zebra’s migrate between the Serengeti and the Masai Mara, constantly driven by their search for fresh grazing. The massive herds are closely followed by predators (lion, hyena and cheetah), making the most of every opportunity to catch their next meal.

The precise timing of the annual wildebeest migration depends on the rains. It is a very unpredictable and spontaneous natural event, with calving season taking place in the Serengeti between January and mid-March. The wildebeest migration starts to head towards the Western Serengeti in May or June. The best time to see the migration is generally between June and August when the wildebeest congregate and prepare to cross the famous Grumeti River.

If you are in the Masai Mara you can expect the wildebeest to make their arrival as early as July, but they generally arrive between August & September and remain in the Masai Mara between October & November. Between the end of November and January the wildebeest gradually begin their migration from the Masai Mara back towards the Serengeti.

The Great Wildebeest Migration – Lodge Safari
11 days: This safari allows you to witness the very best of Tanzania. You will revel in all the wildlife viewing opportunities on the fabled plains of the Serengeti, around Lake Manyara, Tarangire & Ngorongoro. Spend four nights at the lodge in Serengeti and spend the days on game drives tracing the direction of the wildebeests migration.


Bayimba International Festival of Music and Arts
The Annual Bayimba International Festival of Music and Arts – a vibrant platform to celebrate the power of Music and Arts in Uganda.


Sauti za Busara music festival
Features a rich variety of African music from the region with more than four hundred musicians participating over five days in historic Stone Town.

Festival of the Dhow Countries July
East Africa’s largest cultural event, takes place in Zanzibar in magnificent, historical venues along the waterfront of Stone Town. The festival celebrates the unique cultural heritage of the “Dhow” countries: the African continent and the Indian Ocean region and their global Diaspora.

Mwakakogwa Festival – July/August
a traditional festival to celebrate the local New Year. It is mainly practiced in the Southern Unguja, particularly in Makunduchi. Originating from Persia and brought here by early, Immigrants, Mwakakogwa is marked by sacrifices, dances, and the actual field fighting. In addition to the tourists from abroad, it draws participants from the whole of East Africa.


Sahara Marathon – February
travel to North Africa and live and run in this most difficult yet breathtaking place on earth—The Sahara Desert.

Telefónica-Dakar Rally – dates tbc
Tits rich, eventful and adventurous past, its adaptability to its time, and to the men and women of its time, the Dakar has become a major highlight of the sporting calendar. Crossing of Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea and Senegal.


Egyptian Maraton _Luxor
The Marathon is an international event with over 36 nationalities participating and it is the only A I M S (Association of international Marathons and Road Races) certified Marathon in the country

Pharaonic Race – CairoNovember
100Kms : The route of the race will take you first to sites of Sakkara , the ancient necropolis of Memphis, Egypt’s earliest capital. The third highlight will be the magnificent area of Dahshure , where the bent and the red Pyramids of King Snefru can be admired.

Abu Simbel Festival – Twice every year, 22nd February and 22nd October)
Abu Simbel is located in the heart of Nubia and is accessible by road or air from Aswan. The most remarkable feature of the site is that the temple is precisely oriented so that twice every year, on 22 February and 22 October, the first rays of the morning sun shine down the entire length of the temple-cave to illuminate the back wall of the innermost shrine and the statues of the four gods seated there

Ramses II, in a fit of precision and despotic architectural egotism, carefully angled his temple at Abu Simbel so that the inner sanctum would light up twice a year: once on the anniversary of his rise to the throne, and once on his birthday. The combination of human endeavour and natural phenomena provides what must be one of the most spectacular sights in the world.

South Sinai Camel Festival – May
This festival gives all travelers a chance to change their opinion regarding camels being slow plodders. The most speediest and bumpiest racing of all, takes place at Sharm El-Sheikh.

Cairo Film Festival
With its ancient history, and vast motion picture industry, Egypt became the cultural capital of the Arab world. Egypt’s cinema’s influence on the Arabs is as profound as that of the American cinema on the rest of the world. That why Cairo is known to be “Hollywood” of the Middle East.



Ethiopia Religious Festival Tour
Ethiopia Historic Route tour is also designed in such a way to coincides with the colorful Festivals of Meskal, Timkat, Christmas or Axum Tsion. You will enjoy beauty of Ethiopia religious festival celebrations Click to view full itinerary
Ethiopia Two major Festivals: Christmas and Timket
The best time to make a holiday to Ethiopia is on the date of its festivals. Book this special tour to attend the celebration of the two major festivals- Christmas in Lalibela and Timket in Addis Ababa. The tour also includes a visit of Ethiopia Historic Route Tigray Rock Churches and Simien Mountain National park.Click to view full itinerary
Ethiopia Timket Festival: Celebrating in Lalibela
The main Highlights of this Ethiopia tour is to visit the celebration of Ethiopian Epiphany- Timket, on 19 January in Lalibela. Lalibela is one of the Holy towns in the country; Timket festival is celebrated so colorfully and differently. It is the best place to attend Timket festival in Ethiopia. The tour also includes a visit of Ethiopia Historic Route. Click to view full itinerary
Historic Route Simien Mountains & Hidar Tsion Festival
Ethiopia travel to the major historical and cultural tourist attractions to visit world heritage sites in Gondar, Lalibela, Axum, Harer & Simien Mountains with visit of Hidar Tsion Festival in Axum. Click to view full itinerary
Historic Route Rift Valley Lakes & Meskel Festival
Ethiopia Tour to explore Monasteries on Lake Tana Castle of Gondar Rock churches in Lalibela Stles of Axum Simien Mountain National Park Harer and attend Meskel Festival celebration in Addis Ababa. Click to view full itinerary
Omo Valley Bahir Dar Gonadr Axum & Ethiopian Christmas in Lalibela
Travel to the North Great Historic Route Ethiopia and South Rift/ Omo Valley with a visit of the religious celebration of Ethiopian Christmas in Lalibela.Click to view full itinerary

Timkat/Epiphany – January

Timket, or the Feast of the Epiphany, is celebrated in the January of each year. The 3-day event commemorates the baptism of Christ and is one of the most colourful Ethiopian festivals. The night before the Timket, priests take the Tabot (which symbolises the Ark of the Covenant, containing the Ten Commandments) from each church to a tent at a consecrated pool or stream. There is frenetic activity, including the ringing of bells, blowing of trumpets and the burning of incense. In Addis Ababa, tents are pitched at Jan Meda, to the northeast of the city centre. At 02h00, mass is celebrated, attended by crowds of people carrying lighted oil lamps. At dawn, the priest uses a ceremonial cross to extinguish a candle burning on a pole in a nearby river. Inevitably, some of the congregation leap into the river. The Tabots are then taken back to the churches in procession, accompanied by horsemen, while the festivities continue.



There are a couple of big annual events that help visitors unravel the mysteries of Morocco. Feasts are organized during all seasons, celebrating various local traditions. Festivals are consecrated to the arts and to the popular traditions. “Moussems” are important gathering to pay homage to a special personalities

Moroccan Moroccan Sacred Fez Music Festival & Tour : Artists from around the world flock to Morocco’s spiritual capital during the annual Fez Sacred Music Festival. The event features performances in a variety of styles, ranging from local Sufi chants to haunting gypsy songs from Spain – a romantic setting for a fine selection of devotional music.To satisfy even the most demanding customer, organizers add annual spectaculars to each year’s program. This has included Whirling Dervishes from Iran. There are also concerts on the Bab Boujloud Square, children’s educational activities and the famous Sufi nights at Dar Tazi……and much more. Click to read itinerary
 Marrakech Popular Arts Festival /Marrakech
For five days now, the bustling city of Marrakech manages to cram in even more popular sights and sounds than it boasts already during the Marrakech Popular Arts Festival. The El- Badi Palace in particular acts as the centre of events over the course of the festival.
Click to read itinerary
Essaouira Gnaoua and World Music Festival /Essaouira
the bustling city celebration of the mysterious music of the Gnawas, the product of a mystic tradition with branches as widespread as Haitian voodoo and Brazilian Candomblé. A picturesque port painted in blue and white, Essaouira is the ideal resort that most travelers dream of when they think of North Africa: laid-back and yet vibrant, atmospheric and relaxing.
Click to read itinerary
Live 1001 night in the Moroccan Sahara New Year
Spend New Years Evein Morocco. As night falls, watch traditional folkloric dance and listen to the heady intoxicating beat of Berber drum music and song during the traditional pouring of mint tea. delight in a Moroccan feast. At the crest of the gathering, the sun sets on an old year, outlining the dunes in a complexity worthy of the future: vast and unpredictable as the tales of Sheherazad, and the 1001 nights to be lived before the sun rises.
Click to read itinerary


Jazz in Carthage

El Jem International Symphonic Festival Jly – Aug
classical works, set in the candle-lit surroundings of the best-preserved Roman coliseum in the world.



Morija Arts & Cultural Festival – October

Each year on the first Thursday of October, the Festival is alive and kicking again. The main days of the Festival will be Friday through Sunday. During the four days of the Festival about 40 events will take place at 8 venues in Morija which cater for all tastes in music, dance, drama and film. At the main Arena, Thabeng Football Grounds, are also found arts & crafts displays and sales, as well as information booths and tents marketing a wide range of products, including food and drinks of different traditions. Concerts, Jazz, Famo, Gospel & Kwaito will highlight each day.The friendly & festive atmosphere of this Festival is unique and each visitor is highly welcomed

South Africa

Sardine Run June
The “Sardine Run” begins around mid-May, when huge schools of Sardinaps Sagas begin their migration from the Agulhas Banks to the South African coast, bringing a myriad of predators and other creatures in their wake, including dolphins, whales, game fish, sharks and flocks of diving birds.
Click to view full itinerary

Augrabies Extreme Maraton– 029 October 2009
Experience the challenge of Southern Africa with this 7 day, 250km self-sufficiency run in the Great Kalahari….

Addo Elephant 100 & 50 Miler Trail Runs – 02 May 2009
Have you ever run with elephants and rhinos, pushed yourself to the limit against time? Join us for the second 100Miler and 50Miler Trail Runs through the Addo Elephant National Park

Cape Town Festival – TBC
The Festival will include concerts over three days, our popular Festival Imbizos or Cultural Talks, diverse foods representing different religions and cultures, and a range of activities targeting youth, etc.

Woodstock Dates TBC
South Africa’s premier youth music and lifestyle festival – 3 Stages representing the top rock, pop, hip hop, and contemporary acts in South Africa. Complete beat bliss of all genres of dance music, situated 2km from the main stage in a valley of its own. featuring some of SA’s top extreme sports entertainers and sporty stunt men.

Hermanus Whale Festival(Sept : Dates TBC)
The fun Festival with the most spectacular natural setting on earth brings you a combination of music, music, music, live theatre, sport and adventurous environmental activities – the ultimate Enviro-Arts experience. A whole week of theatre, music, craft stalls, sport and fun is planned – bring the whole family.

2008 Absa Cape Epic: : TBC
the largest full-service mountain bike stage race in the world. It starts in the beautiful Garden Route town of Knysna and finishes eight days later in style at the grand Spier Wine Estate, just outside Cape Town.

National Arts Festival – Grahamstown– TBC
The National Arts Festival is one of the most important event on the South African cultural calendar, and the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent. Starting at the end of June/beginning of July, it runs for between 8 and 10 days and is held in the small university city of Grahamstown, which is situated in the Eastern Cape, 130km from Port Elizabeth.

Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon – 11 April 2009

Splashy Fen Music Festival
longest-running and most renowned annual music festival, Splashy Fen has evolved into the ultimate outdoor experience for music and nature lovers alike

Absa Klein Karoo National Arts Festival

Gardenex & Outdoor Living Fair/Johannesburg
the biggest gardening and floriculture exhibition in the Southern Hemisphere

Pink Loerie Mardi Gras
Held in Knysna offers days of parties, exhibitions and art performances

Durban International Film Festival : 22 July – 2nd August 2009
presenting over 300 screenings of films from around the world, with a special focus on films from South African and Africa.

Knysna Oyster Festival – 3-12 July 09 .