Africa has some amazing African festivals of 2013 that will take place throughout the year. Make the most of your African adventure by planning to be at one of these festivals either before or after your overland trip.
1. Timkat - Feast of Epiphany
Location: Addis Ababa, Lalibela and Gondar - Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s largest festival is celebrated with music, food and processions. The Feast of Epiphany has origins from a thousand years ago. There’s plenty of opportunity to get involved in the festival; be prepared to let all your inhibitions go and join in some very vigorous dancing.
If possible, book a guide to go with you, so that they can explain what’s happening during the ceremonies. Some of the best towns to see this African festival are Addis Ababa, Lalibela and Gondar.
Date: 19 January 2013
The African Festival of Ephiphany. Photo by Gillpenney
2. FESPACO African Festival
Location: Ouagadougou - Burkina Faso
The Panafrican Film and TV Festival of Ougaadougou (FESPACO) is a visual feast that has been running for more than 40 years. It’s held every two years in the capital of Burkina Faso. There are 11 cinema halls across Ougagdougou, where the screenings are held, and the glitz is reserved purely for the opening and closing ceremonies. There’s a best film prize and recipients are awarded the Golden Yennenga Stallion – the FESPACO version of the Oscar statuette.
Date: Feb 23 - March 2, 2013
3. Cape Town International Jazz Festival
Location: Cape Town - South Africa
Since the Cape Town Jazz Festival began in 2000, this event has grown year by year. It’s now a huge international event, otherwise known as Africa’s Grandest Gathering, and the two-night festival features more than 40 African and international artists. The venue is the Cape Town International Convention Center and if you’re in Cape Town during early April, it’s definitely worth getting some tickets. If you're looking for urban African festivals for 2013 - don't miss this one.
Date: April 5-6, 2013
Judith Sephuma performing at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival. Photo by Andrepierre
4. The Harare International Festival of Arts
Location: Harare - Zimbabwe
The International Festival of Arts in Harare pulls in performers from around the world. It’s one of the most vibrant cultural festivals in Africa, with music, plays, spoken word and much more. This annual festival is an unqualified success every year.
Date: May 2013
5. The Lake of the Stars Festival
Location: Lake Malawi - Malawi
The Lake of the Stars Festival is going to be a cultural explosion in 2013. The 2012 event was canceled in order to fund local initiatives, but it's back and ready to rock your soul. This music festival gathers artists and performers from all over Malawi and from other parts of the world every year. It began in 2004 and is held on the shores of Lake Malawi. A broad range of music is performed, including reggae, folk and afro-pop. As well as raising money for local charities, the Lake of the Stars Festival drives tourism to Malawi. Why? The Lake of the Stars Festival is an African music culture experience not to be missed.
Date: October 2013
Tay Grin's Dancers at the Lake of the Stars Festival. Photo by Maria Thundu.
6. Hogbetsotso Festival in Africa
Location: Volta Estuary - Ghana
Otherwise known as the Festival of the Exodus, this is the commemoration by the Anlo Ewes people – an ethnic group in east Ghana – who, legend has it, escaped from a tyrannical ruler Notsie, Ago-Koli, by walking backwards. This festival has many ceremonies attached to it, including a peace-making session to resolve all outstanding issues, a purification ceremony where all the villages are swept clean and all rubbish is burnt. The cleaning ceremony starts at the Volta Estuary and continues until the Mono River in the Republic of Benin is reached, days later. Village chiefs dress in their finest regalia and receive homage from their subjects during a formal gathering. The biggest gatherings take place in Anloga (15 km from Keta) on the first Saturday of November.
Date: November 2013
7. Mombasa Cultural Carnival
Location: Mombasa - Kenya
During the month of November, the cultural carnival in Mombasa is a great festival to spend time at. You’ll get the chance to see many traditional tribal costumes in a parade down the main avenue of Mombasa, and there are musicians from all over Kenya who take part. This six day event aims to provide space for peace and integration of different East African communities. Many different communities show off their individual cultures here, and you can see arts and crafts on sale at stalls throughout the city, as well as watch traditional Kenyan dances. A sailing regatta on the seafront is also part of the festivities.
Date: November 2013
Mombasa's African festival - Mombasa Cultural Carnival. Photo by Adamposey
8. Cape Town Festival of Beer
Location: Cape Town - South Africa
Anyone who enjoys a beer will get a lot out of the Cape Town Festival of Beer. You’ll find great quality beers from the big brewers as well as home brewers and micro-breweries. There are plenty of samples to be had, as well as demonstrations to watch on different techniques behind brewing beer. Apart from everything to do with beer being on display, a bucket full of live entertainment and great food is available to enjoy too.
Date: Three days over last weekend of November, 2013
Now all that's left to do is pick your overland adventure tour and plan your travel dates to carefully align with whichever African festivals 2013 is drawing you towards.
About the author:
Lorena Benchis is an amateur photographer with a passion for travelling. She works as a freelancer which allows her to travel more than your average Joe. Her aim is to give readers the latest travel tips and reviews of the best destinations for family holidays.