Festivals in Africa

Sauti za Busara Music Festival – Zanzibar, Tanzania

February

The Sauti za Busara Music Festival will be in its 7th year in 2010. Zanzibar comes alive in February each year with this international festival celebrating East African music. 400 established and upcoming artists perform acoustic and electric, modern and classic “from city and shamba”. The festival kicks off with a street parade, followed by four days of live music at the historic Old Fort in Stone Town, Zanzibar.

Cape Town International Jazz Festival – Cape Town, South Africa

April

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival has blossomed into a top international jazz event voted by Melodytrip as the 4th best in the world. This comes as no surprise considering the wealth of jazz musicians who hail from South Africa and Cape Town in particular. 40 local and international greats perform on four stages over a weekend, so the hardest part is trying to decide which stage to visit at any one time!

Malaral Camel Derby – Maralal, Northern Kenya

August

The Malaral Camel Derby is an annual event held in the Northern Region of Kenya. Both amateurs and professionals put the camels through their paces on a route through this semi-desert region. Camels (with or without handlers) are available to hire for those wishing to compete. This event is aimed to bring attention to the encroachment of the desert in Northern Kenya. Other activities include cycle races, dance displays and donkey rides for children.

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Lake of Stars Music Festival – Lake Malawi, Malawi

October

Lake of the Stars is fast becoming one of Africa’s top music events showcasing a diverse range of music from Afropop, reggae and folk to beatboxers and the best international DJs. The stage sits on the chilled out shores of majestic Lake Malawi. 2008 highlights included British folk supremo Seth Lakeman finishing his set as the lakeshore wind whipped the stage covering into a frenzy and Malawian legend Giddi Chalamanda making a surprise guest appearance to the delight of the Malawian contingent. The festival began in 2004 to showcase Malawi as a destination and to expose Malawian musicians to an international audience.

Oktoberfest – Namibia, various locations

Late October

The German descendants in Namibia have maintained their language and culture despite being cut off from Germany since 1915. This is why you will find a Munich-style Oktoberfest energetically celebrated in most major centres. If you are in Namibia in late October be sure to seek out the foaming pitchers of beer, sizzling sausages and thigh slapping merriment of the oompah bands.

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Kwanga Festival – Samfya, Zambia

October

The Kwanga Festival is celebrated annually by the Njumba tribe of the Bangweulu wetlands of Northern Zambia. This three day festival sees much singing, dancing and feasting to mark a rite of passage in anticipation of the return of the rainfall in November. This is a coming together of the tribe who don colourful gear and dance to the rhythm of traditional drum and rattle beats. Visitors are welcome to participate in the festivities, so if you are in Zambia at this time of year for your African safari be sure to take advantage of this unique opportunity.

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by Shelly Hawes