Africa is endowed with more than 3000 ethnic groups and 2000 languages spoken widely within the continent. Hence, planning a trip to Africa will allow you to experience the incredible cultural diversity in this impressive embodiment of natural beauty.
Furthermore, you can explore some of the top cultural festivals in the various countries of Africa that feature eye-opening and exotic experiences of the different traditions in music, dance, art and fantastic celebration.
Whenever you’re ready to engage in these magical events, here is a list of the best major annual events in Africa to visit;
10 Major Annual Events in Africa to Visit
1. Hermanus Whale Festival, South Africa: Hermanus is the best destination for land-based whale watching worldwide and an incredible festival for families with entertainment for all ages. Often described as an ‘Enviro-Arts’ festival, about a hundred thousand visitors swarm in every late September to see the real stars of this show which are the migrating Southern Right Whales. Apart from that, you can enjoy delicious food and great music in a festive setting.
2. Curee Salee and Wodaabe Gerewol, Niger: Curee Salee and Wodaabe Gerewol is a week-long festival in Niger where members of the nomadic Wodaabe tribe gather near the desert town of Ingall to celebrate the end of the rainy season with the Cure Salee festival every year. The popular aspect of the festival is the Gerewol, where a male beauty pageant is held for the approval of female judges, as well as many matches, livestock parades, camel races, and feasting.
3. New Yam Festival, Nigeria: Mostly celebrated in the socio-cultural life of the Igbo tribe in Nigeria, The New Yam festival is the most celebrated in Africa and attended by all the communities in Igbo land. It is an annual cultural festival of over 50 million people, usually held in early August and October and bringing the individual Igbo communities together to celebrate the most important crop of the region and the first to be harvested.
4. Cairo International Book Fair, Egypt: If you are a book lover, this is for you! The Cairo International Book Fair is the largest book fair in Africa and the second largest in the world. It attracts more than two million visitors yearly to its tremendous literary celebration. People who attend can peruse aisles of stands selling titles across every genre imaginable. During its three-week run, there are stunning fireworks to keep everyone entertained and multi-language lectures and readings.
5. Voodoo Festival: This colorful festival is often celebrated among the people devoted to voodoo in the Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana. Voodoo festival is a vibrant festival that features voodoo dolls and devotees with animal skins while shouting in unison and dancing to drum beats. The festival is done annually around January 8-12, with a lot of fun activities such as horse racing on the beach with plenty of food and drinks.
6. Timkat, Ethiopia: Timkat is a three-day Ethiopian Orthodox celebration performed in towns and cities to honour the Epiphany, or baptism of Christ. It mainly occurs in Gondar, where thousands of pilgrims are dressed in white robes to escort a replica of the Ark of the Covenant from each of the city’s churches to the royal bathing pool called Fasiladas’ Bath. The pool waters are blessed for celebrants to renew their baptismal vows after a candlelit vigil. In the end, the festival is all about feasting and dancing.
7. Mombasa Carnival, Kenya: Known as the largest annual Kenya festival organised by the Ministry of Tourism, Mombasa Carnival features costumes, floats, music and dance that perfectly represents the cultural diversity of the region. The participants dress in traditional kikoy and manga with traditional and contemporary musicians in line to perform before the parade finally finds its way down to the beach at Fort Jesus for a boat regatta. There are several local delicacies to enjoy here as the streets are filled with stalls of all kinds.
8. Maitisong Festival, Gaborone, Botswana: Done in April and after 30 years of existence, the Maitisong Festival is an annual event that attracts both local and international visitors with its music. There are different styles of music showcased at the festival. From gospel to kwaito to Afro-pop, the event also hosts both paid and free festivals to allow everyone to be entertained.
9. International Festival of the Sahara, Tunisia: This festival is a four-day event celebrating the vibrant culture of the people of the Sahara Desert. The festival takes place every year and attracts more than 50,000 people to witness the singing, dancing, poetry readings, feasting and races that involve young men competing on horses and camelbacks in the small oasis town of Douz.
10. Mawazine International music festival, Morocco: Mawazine festival is a Moroccan International music festival that attracts millions of people every year in Rabat, Morocco. The festival, held annually in June, is handled by Mounir Majidi, the personal secretary of Moroccan King Mohammed VI and founder and president of Maroc Culture. It was attended by nearly 2.5 million people in 2013 and still features many international and local music artists.