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African Festivals of Vibrant Cultureby Bianca van der Bergh


Zanzibar Music Festival


Zanzibar Music Festival

The stage at Old Fort. Photo by: Jill Maczka

What:

Sauti za Busara also known as the Zanzibar Music Festival is East Africa’s No.1 festival that brings people together to celebrate the variety and richness of African music. The festival spans over three nights and includes both established and upcoming musicians from East Africa and further.

Where:

Usually held at Old Fort and Forodhani Gardens in Stone Town, the capital of Zanzibar, Tanzania.

When:

Takes place every year over a weekend in February.

Why:

Come to Zanzibar Music Festival and get to see some of the best East African musicians live in action.


Festival in the Desert


Festival of the Desert

A group of musicians onstage at Festival in the Desert. Photo by: SPINearth.tv

What:

The Festival of the Desert also known as the Festival au Désert is a musical festival in which is held annually in the north of Mali. The festival showcases traditional Tuareg music as well as music from all over the world. About 30 artistic groups from the world perform at this festival in Africa.

Where:

The festival is held just outside Timbuktu in Mali.

When:

It takes place every year over 3 days in January.

Why:

It’s not every day that you get to experience a music festival in the desert.


Cape Town Jazz Festival


Cape Town International Jazz Festival

The crowd at one of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival stages. Photo by: Danie van der Merwe

What:

Cape Town International Jazz Festival is one of the biggest festivals in Africa, annually hosting more than 30 000 jazz lovers. With renowned jazz artists from all over the world, it's a weekend not to be missed. Every year there are about 40 international and local acts performing across five stages over three days.

Where:

Annually the event takes place in Cape Town at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).

When:

It spans over three days and is annually held in April.

Why:

Get to experience some of the best international and local jazz acts all under one roof.


ABSA Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK)


Klein Karoo National Arts FestivalDie Tuindwergies onstage at the KKNK. Photo by: MKtv

What:

The ABSA Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK) is an Afrikaans art festival that takes place every year in Oudtshoorn with more than 100 000 people that attend over 8 days. There are about over 1000 performing and exhibiting artists. This African festival includes; visual art, music stages and much more.

Where:

Every year the event takes place in Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape, South Africa.

When:

It usually takes place at the end of March to the beginning of April.

Why:

Get to see experience the biggest art festival in South Africa.


Kriol Jazz Festival - Praia


Kriol Jazz Festival - Praia

Yamandu Costa at the Kriol Jazz Festival. Photo by: Antonio Gomes

What:

The Kriol Jazz Festival - Praia is an annual jazz festival where you will get to see some the best artists in the Creole world. There are concerts as well as workshops for people to share their experiences and expertise.

Where:

The festival annually takes place on the island of Santiago.

When:

It takes place during April over 3 days.

Why:

Come see some of the best jazz  music that Santiago and the rest of the world has on offer.


Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA)


Harare Int’l Festival of the Arts

One of the groups onstage at HIFA. Photo by: HIFA's gallery

What:

The Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) is a 6-day festival and workshop programme that annually showcases local, regional and international arts and culture. The festival's programme includes theatre, dance, music, spoken work, circus, street performance and visual arts. HIFA is currently the biggest cultural event in Zimbabwe and one of the eight major African festivals.

Where:

Takes place in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe.

When:

The festival usually takes place between the end of April and the beginning of May.

Why:

Get to experience one of the most diverse festivals in Africa.

 


Bushfire Festival


Bushfire Festival

The crowd at Bushfire Festival. Photo by: Bushfire Festival gallery

What:

The Bushfire Festival is a three day music and arts festival  that takes place annually. Every year a global community of up to 20 000 people gather in Swaziland to experience the amazing Pan-African festival and international line-up of live music, theatre, dance, poetry, film, circus and visual arts.

Where:

Takes place every year at House on Fire in Swaziland.

When:

It takes place annually between the end of May and the beginning of June.

Why:

You've got to be there to experience what sets the Bushfire Festival apart from all other festivals in Africa.

 


Mombasa Street Cultural Carnival


What:

Mombasa Street Cultural Carnival is an opportunity for Mombasa to celebrate its rich cultural resources. There is a street parade where many cultures and communities participate. There a few stages featuring bands and dancers, art and crafts stalls and a sailing Regatta.

Where:

Takes place in Mombasa, Kenya.

When:

The carnival takes place every year in November.

Why:

Get to see the amazing artists and musicians from all over Kenya.


Essaouira Gnaoua Music Festival


Essaouira Gnaoua Music Festival

The crowd at Essaouira Gnaoua Music Festival. Photo by: Hasan Almustafa

What:

Every year thousands of people gather at the Essaouira Gnaoua Music Festival to celebrate their love of music. The festival creates a space for people to enjoy the great music and just let themselves go.

Where:

The festival is held in the city of Mogador in Morocco.

When:

The Essaouira Gnaoua Music Festival takes place in June.

Why:

Get to experience music like never before.


Durbar Festival


Durbar Festival

Drummers at the Durbar Festival. Photo by: Gozilah52_Archive

What:

The Durbar Festival is celebrated in some cities across Nigeria. It is an annual festival and takes place during the month between Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha (two Muslim festivals). It starts with prayers, there's a parade of the Emir which includes music and showcase of horsemanship.

Where:

The festival takes place in cities such as Katsina, Bida and Kano in Nigeria.

When:

During the month between  Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

Why:

Get to experience Nigeria's rich tradition and enjoy the showcase of horsemanship.


L'Boulevard - African festival of music


 

L'Boulevard

The crowd at L'Boulevard. Photo by: culturejamming-mark levine

What:

L'Boulevard is a music festival contest which takes place annually in Morocco. The festival lasts for four days and includes four main music genres: hip hop, electro, fusion, rock and roll/metal.

Where:

L'Boulevard takes place in Casablanca, Morocco.

When:

Takes places every year in May and spans over four days.

Why:

Experience a mixture of music genres all in one venue.


International Camel Derby


International Camel Derby

The start of the Camel Derby. Photo by: Mark Skipper

What:

The derby is known as an international sport and is also a platform which is used to make people aware of the desertification in Africa. Besides the camel rides, there are also cycle races, donkey rides, other events as well as stalls and regional dancing.

Where:

Yare Camel Camp, 3 km from the township of Maralal in Kenya.

When:

The derby takes place over a weekend in August every year.

Why:

Get to experience Kenya's culture like never before at this international festival in Africa.


Live 1001 nights in the Moroccan


What:

Get to spend the last evening of the year watching traditional folkloric dance, while listening to the Berber drum music and some songs. There is also a delicious Moroccan feast to indulge in.

Where:

Moroccan Sahara.

When:

New Year's Eve - 31 December.

Why:

Celebrate the new year at this African festival in a completely new way like never before.


Hermanus Whale Festival


Hermanus Whale Festival

Crowds at the Hermanus Whale Festival. Photo by: Celanth

What:

The festival celebrates the spotting of Southern Right whales that return during the mating and calving season. Many food and craft stalls can be found at the festival as well as music and entertainment.

Where:

In Hermanus, Western Cape in South Africa.

When:

Takes place every year at the end of September and spans over four days.

Why:

Get to see the return of the beautiful Southern Right whales while enjoying great food and music.


FESPACO


FESPACO

FESPACO closing ceremony. Photo by: talatu-carmen

What:

Fespaco is the biggest film festival in Africa. It is also the largest cultural event that takes place in Africa that focuses on the African film industry.

Where:

Takes places in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

When:

The festival takes place two weeks after the last Saturday in February. It lasts for a week and is held every two years.

Why:

Get to see the best films that Africa has on offer.


Cattle Crossing Festival


Cattle Crossing

A young man herding cattle at the Cattle Crossing Festival. Photo by:  Brad Watson

What:

This is one of the biggest festivals that takes place in Mali and is held in Fulani village of Mopti. It's an important African festival as it marks return of all those who sent their cattle across Sahel with young men who herded the cattle for a year. The festival is filled with singing and dancing to honour the young men who returned home.

Where:

Diafarabé, in Mali.

When:

The festival happens every year in December.

Why:

Get to experience a unique festival that is unlike other African festivals.

 

 


International Festival of the Sahara


International Festival in the Sahara

A group of people gathering at the International Festival of the Sahara. Photo by: Mossaab

What:

The festival is an annual celebration of traditional desert culture. The festival includes traditional music and dancing, camel races, poetry reading, horse races, dog races and wrestling. There are usually conferences and discussions that round out the festival.

Where:

Douz, Kebili, Tunisia.

When:

The festival annually takes place in November or December.

Why:

Join the celebration and experience traditional desert culture.


Zanzibar International Film Festival


ZIFF

Swahili Vibes onstage at the the Zanzibar International Film Festival. Photo by: Peter Bennett

What:

Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) is the biggest film, art and music festival in East Africa. Some of the best films from Africa and beyond are screened. There is also live music, DJs, workshops, exhibitions and performances at various venues.

Where:

Annually takes place in Zanzibar.

When:

Lasts for just over a week from the end of June until the first week of July.

Why:

Get to see some of the new and best talents from Africa and beyond.


Fez Festival of Sufi Culture


What:

The festival features music, dancing, meetings and lectures which are based on the Sufi culture. The festival also includes Sufi's spiritual and cultural traditions of the Moroccan people.

Where:

Takes place in Fes, Fès - Boulemane, Morocco.

When:

Takes place annually in April.

Why:

You will get the full Sufi Culture experience by attending the Fez African Festival.

 

We hope you find this list of festivals in Africa useful when choosing the right African festival to attend. With so many awesome choices, we're sure that you'll enjoy them all, no matter what you choose.

ABSA Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK)
The ABSA Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK) is an Afrikaans art festival that takes place every year in Oudtshoorn with more than 100 000 people that attend over 8 days. There are about over 1000 performing and exhibiting artists. The festival includes; visual art, music stages and much more.
Every year the event takes place in Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape, South Africa.
It usually takes place at the end of March to the beginning of April.
Get to see experience the biggest art festival in South Africa

 

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