10 Must-Attend Holiday Events In Africa

Performers in one of the holiday events in Africa

The African continent is famous for wildlife, stunning sceneries, and crystal-blue white-sand beaches. But that is not all you can experience in Africa. Communities, government ministries, and local organizations plan events at different times of the year to showcase and celebrate African heritage.

These events take the form of carnivals, music concerts, festivals, and so on. That means you can plan your trip around holiday events in Africa. There is no doubt that the continent has some of the world’s best and most rewarding holiday destinations.

South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, and Egypt are some of the most popular destinations for vacationers, especially in the last quarter of every year. Holiday events staged at this time of the year offer visitors the opportunity to experience a blend of both ancient and modern African culture.

What are some cultural events in Africa?

African communities have distinctive qualities and diverse cultural expressions. But collectively, Africans share certain cultural traits that make African culture unique. During different holiday events, African communities express their culture through dance, music, art, beadwork, and sculpture.

For example, the rhythm and melody of most traditional songs follow the intonations of the song text. The African drum is a significant instrument in almost all traditional songs. It provides rhythm to songs and dances while helping to evoke emotion.

Oftentimes, dancers use masks, gestures, paintings, and costumes during certain performances to convey specific messages as well as express moods and emotions.

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Intricate beadwork, sculpture, body painting, and bracelets are prevalent in cultural holiday events in Africa. These artworks help to communicate as well as depict different things such as strength, love, and honor.

10 must-attend holiday events in Africa

The last quarter of the year is a perfect time to tour Africa and experience incredible holiday events. If you are looking forward to experiencing African culture through carnivals, songs, dances, or other cultural events, this article has you covered.

Read on to discover holiday events that can make your trip to Africa thrilling and memorable.

1. Mombasa Carnival (Kenya)

Mombasa Carnival in Kenya
Mombasa Carnival in Kenya (Photo credit: Gowherewhen)

The Mombasa Carnival is the most popular and one of the biggest Kenyan festivals that exhibits the country’s traditions and culture. It takes place in Mombasa, which is Kenya’s second-biggest city and the largest port city in East Africa.

Kenya’s Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife organizes the vibrant, action-packed holiday event, which takes place throughout November. It brings together people from different races including Africans, Europeans, and Arabs. Artists converge in the city and stage diverse performances that electrify crowds.

Traditional songs and dances from different communities are prevalent during Mombasa Carnival. The cultural festival revolves around Moi Avenue with local traders selling a wide range of items including wood carvings, clothes, and foods.

The festival is among the holiday events in Kenya that attract vacationers from around the world. Mombasa Carnival began as a celebration of Kenya’s history and diverse culture. It provides people from around the world the opportunity to enjoy and learn about the local culture. To experience the Mombasa Carnival, ensure to be in Mombasa in November.

2. Vintage Picnics Festival (South Africa)

Vintage Picnics Festival is one of the must-attend holiday events in Africa
Vintage Picnics Festival (Photo credit: Stylecracker)

The Vintage Picnics Festival is one of the unique holiday events in Africa because it takes an outdoor picnic format. It focuses on creating an environment and opportunities where people can make friends.

The festival offers visitors the chance to have fun while enjoying African foods, drinks, and entertainment. This event is hosted at the heart of Soweto and seeks to foster identity as well as freedom of expression.

Moose Maseko, a percussionist from Soweto, started the Vintage Picnics Festival in 2012. This move was inspired by the Kwaito culture and the freedom of expression associated with it. This year’s festival will start on December 10.

3. International Festival of the Sahara (Tunisia)

International Festival of the Sahara
International Festival of the Sahara (Photo credit: Globetrotting)

The international festival of the Sahara is a four-day celebration that takes place every December in Douz town, Tunisia. It originated from the Bedouin marriage market. This celebration attracts over 50,000 people from different regions of the world, making it one of the most popular holiday events in Tunisia.

The cultural festival brings people together to primarily celebrate the Berbere and Mrazig cultures. As such, traditions, music, and art from these two communities dominate the event.

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Some of the activities performed in this festival are camel marathons, horse races, dog races, feasting, dancing, singing, and poetry readings. The celebration gives visitors a chance to learn the art that gave indigenous Douz communities their identity. Visitors can also explore an excellent craft fair for more fun and visit the Douz Sahara Museum. The 2022 festival begins on December 22.

4. Abu Simbel Sun Festival (Egypt)

Abu Simbel Temple in Egypt
Abu Simbel Temple in Egypt (Photo credit: Egypttoursportal)

The Abu Simbel Sun Festival is one of the most unique holiday events in Africa. This bi-annual event takes place in the Abu Simbel Temple located in southern Egypt. In particular, the event happens every October 22nd and February 22nd when the sunlight gets to the temple’s innermost room.

The Abu Simbel Temple was built in the 13th century BC during the reign of Ramses II. The temple features a 200-feet entrance corridor that leads to its innermost room, which has four statues.

This inmost room was built to light twice a year, that is, during Ramses II’s birthday on October 22, and on February 22, the day he ascended to the throne. So, on these two dates, the sun fills the temple corridor and proceeds to illuminate three statues in the innermost room.

The fourth statue that represents the god of darkness was designed to never see the light. Every year, the Abu Simbel Temple attracts people from around the world who come to witness the convergence of natural phenomena with human intelligence.

Crowds gather at sunrise to watch the sun lighting the three statues. The statues fall back into darkness as the sun rotates. After witnessing this magical phenomenon, visitors take breakfast and lunch while enjoying the stunning atmosphere.

Traditional dancers and singers keep visitors entertained all through. The Abu Simbel Sun Festival is certainly one of the fantastic holiday events in Africa.

5. Tumaini Festival (Malawi)

Tumaini Festival
A performer at the Tumaini Festival (Photo credit: Givingway)

The Tumaini Festival is one of a kind cultural event that uses artistic expressions and entertainment to foster peaceful coexistence, mutual understanding, and intercultural harmony between refugees and the surrounding community. 

It stands out as one of the extraordinary holiday events in Africa because it takes place within the Dzaleka Refugee Camp, which is the biggest in Malawi. Founded in 2014, the Tumaini Festival is run by refugees jointly with their host community. 

Visitors enjoy a variety of entertainment as performers from Dzaleka share the same stage with artists from across Malawi and Africa. The event also attracts artists from other parts of the world. Attendees get a unique opportunity to learn aspects of refugee life as well as explore and buy crafts exhibited by refugees.

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The 2022 Tumaini Festival will happen between the 3rd and 6th of November.

6. Afrochella Festival (Ghana)

Afrochella Festival in Ghana is one of the famous holiday events in West Africa
Afrochella Festival in Ghana (Photo credit: Theroamingrepublic)

Afrochella is a 10-day event that features culture, music, and art. It is one of the most engaging holiday events in Ghana that showcase the diversity of Africa’s culture and creativity. The Afrochella Festival seeks to elevate and highlight the thrilling culture within and from Africa.

Afrochella features Ghanaian culture through live painting, live music performances, African cuisine, art, and fashion exhibitions. The Afrochella cultural festival is a perfect match for visitors to Africa interested in learning about the culture and traditions unique to the continent.

If you want to plan your trip around holiday events in West Africa, consider starting your African experience in Ghana. The Afrochella celebration will take place between December 28, 2022, and January 6, 2023. The festival offers an experience of a lifetime as you travel from Accra to several other destinations in Ghana.

7. Calabar Carnival (Nigeria)

Dancers at Calabar Carnival in Nigeria
Dancers at Calabar Carnival in Nigeria (Photo credit: Allafrica)

Calabar Carnival, hosted by Cross River State, is one of the holiday events in Africa you would not want to miss. Dubbed “Pride of Nigeria” or “Africa’s Biggest Street Party,” the festival takes place every December.

Calabar Carnival includes activities such as concerts, art shows, sporting events, parties, masque events, and street parties. The climax is a street parade that consists of the “Battle of the Bands” music competition.

Celebrations usually run for the whole month of December. Calabar Carnival is among the most popular and longest-running festivals in West Africa. It attracts over two million tourists and features participants from all over the world.

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Donald Duke, the then governor of the Cross River State established the Calabar Carnival in 2004 as an event for celebrating Christmas. Also, he considered the festival a great way to promote tourism and enhance the local economy. If you are planning to tour Nigeria in December, this is one of the holiday events you can attend. This year’s celebrations will be held in Calabar City from 1st to 31st December.

8. Ngondo Festival (Cameroon)

Ngondo Festival in Cameroon is among must-attend holiday events in Africa
Ngondo Festival (Photo credit: Commons Wikimedia)

The Ngondo Festival is among the unique holiday events in Africa. In particular, it is a water-centered celebration hosted by the coastal people of the Sawa tribe in Doula, Cameroon. This year, the vibrant annual festival will happen in the first two weeks of December. The celebration features the cultural heritage of the Sawa people.

The Ngondo Festival involves several activities such as a cultural exhibition, traditional combat, boating, and dance competitions. Furthermore, the event includes a water activity, which is the highlight of the festival.

During the water event, a sacred vessel is immersed in water to establish a connection with the invisible world. A canoe race and nautical parade are other activities held during the Ngondo event. This festival attracts visitors from Cameroon and beyond.

9. Abéné Festival (Senegal)

Dancers enjoying the music
Dancers enjoying the music (Photo credit: @justrioba/Twitter)

Abéné Festival is a week-long celebration that begins after Christmas in Abéné village, Senegal. The festival attracts people across West Africa and beyond to enjoy Senegal’s traditional dances.

Celebrations begin with drumming, humming, and traditional tunes that evoke frenzy feelings among participants. The festival begins on boxing day and it is more exciting at night when African discos are staged.

If you enjoy dancing and learning a new style, this is one of the holiday events that would make your African experience fulfilling. Other activities that feature during the Abéné Festival are soccer matches, bike races, and traditional wrestling.

Since 1994 when the first celebrations were held, the event has helped to unite participating communities in Senegal and enhance their cooperation. This year’s Abéné Festival takes place from December 26th to 2nd January 2023.

10. Mpaako Festival (Zanzibar)

Sample foods from Zanzibar
Sample foods from Zanzibar (Photo credit: Chasethesun)

Zanzibar has a lot to offer including holiday events. One of them is the Mpaako Festival, which attracts the world to celebrate and connect with African culture and traditions. The diversity of cultural shows exhibited during this event has made it famous nationally and internationally.

The four-day festival brings together exhibitors, artists, dancers, and innovators from Africa and beyond. It offers visitors an opportunity to participate in different activities and discover the diversity of African culture.

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The Mpaako Festival attracts global visitors to enjoy dance, traditional songs, comedy, and a variety of exhibitions. Whether you are interested in art, music, expositions, or exploring African cuisines, the Mpaako cultural festival has something for you. Catch up with this annual event this year from 13th to 18th December in Zanzibar.

Conclusion

These holiday events in Africa show the experiences you can anticipate during your holiday in Africa. The diversity of exhibitions and activities featured in these events suggests that every taste is covered.

Regardless of where you want to visit in Africa, you can catch up with an event that will make your experience enjoyable and memorable.

Do you have an upcoming Africa-centric event that needs more exposure? Add it to the African Vibes event listing here.

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