Thursday, 31 March 2016

THE PARRANDAS CARNIVALS AND FESTIVALS IN CUBA

The Parrandas
Carnivals And Festivals

The Caribbean is known for its street parties, and Cuba's festivals are the very best of them. If you are lucky enough to be in Havana , Santiago De Cuba or any of the island's other large cities, around `Carnaval' we can tailor make you an itinerary guaranteed to take in the party of a lifetime. Cuba's festivals are more than just a normal street party - soaked in happiness and with exotic food and joyful dance, the island's many carnivals are definitely a highlight for Cuba's holiday makers.
Here are some of our favourite festivals in Cuba. This list is far from exhaustive, with religious and Cuban jazz festivals taking place throughout the year.

Havana Jazz Festival - February

The Havana Jazz festival is probably the most renowned of Cuba's Jazz festivals held throughout the year. First started in 1978, the first few Havana jazz festivals attracted big name artists like Chucho Valdes, Dizzy Giullespie and Max Roach. Nowadays, with Valdes as the artistic director, Cuba's main jazz festival has expanded to include all of Havana's main concert halls, but still keeps the impromptu jazz spirit with unexpected street jams along the Malecon.

Havana Carnaval - July

Until 1998, this Cuban festival was annually held in February, but has since been moved to July. Each neighbourhood organises their `comparsa' (performing group), which is to perform in the parade and dance show. Each group practices their talent for months in advance, and the big day is always memorable with colourful costumes, energetic dances, lively music and plenty of fun! A vibrant gift to all the senses, the carnival also provides Cuba holiday makers with authentic culinary treats with roast pork, tamales and chicharritas all readily available to festival goers. Alongside the parade, visitors will also delight in the outdoor concerts, which showcase Cuba's best bands over by the Melecon.

Santiago de Cuba - July

While the partying in Havana is in full swing, holiday makers almost 620 miles away in Santiago de Cuba will also be enjoying the street party of a lifetime. The best days for this most famous of Cuba's festivals are from the 24th to the 26th, where you will find a city that literally never sleeps! People gather in the streets partying all night long, waiting for the exciting annual performance at the Cuartel Moncada. Holiday makers will delight in the colourful and eclectic scenes, as they stroll along the famous Trocha Avenue lined with local food and drinks stance and punctuated by stages for bands to perform. This is one festival in Cuba not to be missed - a truly joyous celebration.

Remedios - December

If you are lucky enough to be spending Christmas in Cuba, be sure to pay this small village outside Santa Clara a visit on the 24th. This is the culmination of the Christmas festival - "Las Parrandas de Remedios", which sees fireworks, a street party and friendly competition between the neighbourhoods of Son Salvador and El Carmen. A lesser known but heart-warming and unique Cuban festival.

Remedios Parrandas festivals.
London - July

If you can't get away to Cuba in July, you can still enjoy 'The Spirit of Cuba in London' at the 'Carnival de Cuba'.
*Culled from captivatingcuba.com.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

AUSTRALIA'S ABORIGINAL EVENTS AND FESTIVALS

National Indigenous Music Awards, NT


Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival
Cape York Peninsula, Queensland
June

Every two years in June, hundreds of dancers and thousands of visitors flock to the tiny town of Laura on the remote Cape York Peninsula for the Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival. Aboriginal communities from across the Cape York Peninsula celebrate and share their culture through dance, song, art and performance. Families reconnect and pass down stories while travellers come to experience a culture dating back more than 40,000 years. Pitch a tent in the festival campsite, held on sacred grounds near Laura's renowned prehistoric rock art. Laura can be reached on the Great Tropical Drive between Cooktown and Mareeba.

Mowanjum Festival
Kimberley, Western Australia
July

Experience the unique art and culture of the Worrorra, Ngarinyin and Wunumbal peoples of the Western Kimberley, in this family-friendly, one day and one night event. Held at the Mowanjum Art and Culture Centre, the festival features over 100 Indigenous dance performers, boab tree nut carving, didgeridoo workshops and magnificent corroborrees. Mowanjum Art and Culture Centre is approximately seven and a half miles (12 kilometres) from Derby along the Gibb River Road in Western Australia's remote Kimberley region.

Walking with Spirits
Beswick, Northern Territory
July

Travel deep into the Aboriginal Dreamtime at Walking with Spirits, a unique weekend of cultural immersion held in late July or early August. The location is Malkgulumbutu, a sacred waterfall and lakeside site around 62 miles (100 kilometres) south-east of Katherine. Here the Jawoyn people share their story through traditional corroborree as well as dance, music, puppetry, film and fiery images. Camp amongst the paperbark trees and connect with the spirit ancestors who shaped the land, animals, plants and seasons. This is the only time of year you can visit this remote and beautiful location, and tickets to the event are limited.
*Culled from www.australia.com.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

AUSTRALIA'S ABORIGINAL EVENTS AND FESTIVALS

Desert mob, NT


NAIDOC Week
Various locations, Australia wide
July

In July every year, NAIDOC Week celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. NAIDOC originally stood for 'National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee' which was responsible for organising national activities which has since become the name of the week itself. Today, capital cities and local communities celebrate through family fun days that showcase Indigenous culture and provide a gathering place. In addition, a different city is selected to host the National NAIDOC Awards Ceremony which honours the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair
Darwin, Northern Territory
August

Bark paintings, metal sculptures, didgeridoos, fibre art and jewellery are just some of the diverse art works for sale in the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair in August. It's a unique opportunity for visitors to buy direct from more than 40 community-owned Aboriginal art centres from across Australia. Visitors will discover emerging and established artists, be able to talk to the artists themselves and learn about the distinctive artistic styles of different cultural groups. See woven baskets from East Gippsland, Dreamtime dot paintings from Alice Springs; and the ochre-coloured canvas paintings produced by the Warmun artists of the Kimberley region.

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair
Cairns, Queensland
August

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) is a unique three-day event that merges an art market with a celebration of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. It is the only art fair in Australia that exclusively sells and showcases art by Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. There are public talks and forums, including the CIAF Symposium, where leading Australian and international speakers, artists, and collectors discuss Queensland Indigenous art. Children and families can get involved in hands-on art activities. There is a program of free Indigenous dance and a warm welcome from the traditional owners, the Yidinji.
*Culled from www.australia.com.

Monday, 28 March 2016

AUSTRALIA'S ABORIGINAL EVENTS AND FESTIVALS

Gunbalanya Festival, NT


National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award
Darwin, Northern Territory
August - October

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award was initiated by the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in 1984. Today it offers the highest prize money for any art award in Australia. The award attracts a broad range of artistic talent from around the country presenting a diversity of styles, with more than 150 works on exhibition. It is a showcase for both established and emerging artists and has come to be regarded as one of the premier national events in the Australian Indigenous art calendar.

Garma Festival
Gukula, Northern Territory
August

The Northern Territory's Yolngu culture is celebrated in this three day event that has earned a strong following Australia wide. The annual festival traditionally opens with a Yidaki (didjeridu) performance and is then followed by the festival events of visual art exhibitions, ancient storytelling, dance, music, forums, education and training programs. The Garma Festival is particularly known for its connection between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians through its display of cultural practice and cross cultural learning.

Desert Mob
Alice Springs, Northern Territory
September

The Desert Mob Symposium is an exploration of Aboriginal artists, their art and their Art Centres. The program is the only forum of its kind and provides a window to the Aboriginal Art Centre world. Aboriginal artists from Desart member Art Centres together with interstate guests perform a program of stories, song, images, film and dance about culture, country and art. The Desert Mob MarketPlace is a large indoor-outdoor market with stalls selling affordable Aboriginal art, crafts and products including wood carvings, bush medicine and weavings and refreshments.

Corroboree Sydney
Sydney, New South Wales
November

Held in November, Corroboree Sydney is an annual Sydney festival that combines leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, writers, dancers and musicians as they showcase their unique talents and flair. There will be visual arts, literature and performing arts as well as artist workshops over the eleven day event. The event was held for the first time in 2013.
*Culled from www.australia.com.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

HAPPY EASTER TO ALL MY FANS & FRIENDS ALL OVER THE WORLD.

The Custodian of Yoruba Culture and Tradition wishes all our numerous fans and friends across the world A Happy Easter. Many thanks and God bless.

Holidays & Festivals in Argentina By Virginia Franco, Demand Media

Argentina's gauchos are commemorated during El Dia de Tradicion.

The South American nation of Argentina is filled with holidays and traditions passed down from generation to generation. Because a large majority of the Argentine population is Roman Catholic, many of the country's major holidays center around holy days. Others are based on historical events that made a deep and lasting impression on the country and its people, and lent a guiding hand in shaping it into the Argentina of today.

El Dia de Tradicion

El Dia de Tradicion, or the Day of Tradition, is celebrated annually on November 10 following a week or so of parties, concerts, parades and feasts. November 10 marks the anniversary of the birth of Jose Hernandez, an Argentine gaucho who lived on the Pampas during the mid-19th century. As a self-taught writer and poet, Hernandez wrote "El Gaucho Martin Fierro," an enormously popular poem considered one of the greatest works in Argentine literature detailing his viewpoint about the challenges and injustices facing the gauchos of the time. In his honor, towns and cities across Argentina celebrate with parades and gaucho celebrations known as peñas. Vendors sell traditional food like asado (beef cooked in a an open-faced brick oven), empanadas (meat pies), and mate (a herbal drink). In some peñas festivities, gaucho games as well as rodeos are part of the fun, and men dressed in gaucho attire display their equestrian ability.

El Carnaval del Pais

Two weeks prior to Lent, Argentina celebrates El Carneval del Pais much like New Orleans celebrates Mardi Gras, and Brazil celebrates Carnivale. Many gather to enjoy the festivities, in part because the day is considered a public holiday, which closes several businesses and schools. The town of Gualeguaychu, located between Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls, hosts the largest Carnaval celebration in the country. The town's 38,000-seat center known as the Corsodromo hosts a "Kings of the Carneval" celebration, where samba clubs, musicians and singers compete for the title. In Buenos Aires proper, most neighborhoods celebrate with street musicians knowns as "murgas" and artists. During Carnival, people dress in costume and dance in the streets. Traditional fare is served, with a nod to Roman Catholicism by replacing beef with fish during this "kickoff" to Lent. Corn stew, humitas en chala (corn patties wrapped and cooked in the husk), and Bocaditos--finger sandwiches made with shrimp--are popular during Carnaval.

La Revolucion de Mayo

La Revolucion de Mayo (the May Revolution) occurs each year on May 25 to mark the anniversary of Argentine independence from Spain in 1810. Also called Dia Nacional, or National Day, it is considered a public holiday in Argentina. Additionally, most public transportation is free during the holiday for those attending any festivities. National Day kicks off with parades, music and Argentine fare. Festivities begin around mid-day and run late into the evening. National Day is usually brought to a close with a singing of the country's national anthem, but not before local government officials make speeches and proclamations.
*Culled from traveltips.usatoday.com.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Festivals Celebrated Every Year in Mexico By Meg Jemigan, Demand Media

Day of the dead celebrates the spirits of the deceased.

While Cinco de Mayo may be the most known Mexican celebration in the United States, major festivals with political and religious significance in Mexico are far more important. Festivals combine early American Indian culture, Spanish influences and Mexican sensibilities of the country's citizens.

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo, celebrated more in the United States than Mexico, honors the date in 1862 when Mexican soldiers defeated the French army in Puebla, preserving the country's nascent democracy. Emperor Napoleon III's intent in sending the army was to replace Mexico's government with a monarchy that supported France. Celebrations in Puebla include lectures, concerts and cultural programs in the days before May 5. On the 5th, the Mexican army, joined by costumed residents, leads a parade. One Mexico City neighborhood settled by descendents of the original soldiers holds a daylong celebration with a street party and parade.

Las Dias de los Muertos

Observed on November 1 and 2, Las Dias de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrates the spirits of deceased relatives with music and feasts. Originally observed for the entire month of August, the dates changed when Spaniards attempted to Christianize the celebration. Children are remembered on November 1 and adults on the next day. Participants decorate altars where offerings of food are placed. Fresh flowers adorn cemeteries, and family members gather for a festive reunion. In rural Mexico, family members leave gifts for the dead at the cemetery and prepare a feast of the deceased's favorite foods.

Las Posadas

Las Posadas re-creates Mary and Joseph's search for a room at an inn. The festival begins on December 16, when a man and a woman portraying Joseph and Mary lead a procession of the Magi, shepherds and children dressed as angels. The group goes from house to house searching for a room but are turned away until they reach a designated home where they are welcomed. People gather for a party, and a doll is left at the home to be picked up by the next night's participants. The festival goes on each night until Christmas Eve, when it is followed by midnight Mass.

El Grito de Independencia

Mexicans celebrate El Grito de Independencia, or Independence Day, on September 16. The date marks the 1810 start of the 10-year war for independence with Spain. Re-enactments take place in village and city plazas, and homes and business are decorated with the national colors: green, white and red. Vendors sell souvenirs, and food stands offer Mexican food and drink. People gather in the plaza the night before the celebration, wearing indigenous dress, and bands perform traditional Mexican music. The party continues until 11:00 p.m., when an individual, typically a local government official, arrives to declare independence. Fireworks displays mark the beginning of El Grito de Independencia.
*Culled from traveltips.usatoday.com.

Friday, 25 March 2016

The Three Biggest Celebrations in Ireland By Jessica Taylor, Demand Media

The Emerald Island is home to many festivals.

The people of Ireland generally don't shy away from the thought of throwing a good party, which makes this picturesque country a top-notch destination for those looking to get festive. Celebrations are an important part of Irish culture, and religious events, historical figures and national heritage are just a few of the things deemed fit to enthusiastically commemorate in Ireland. Whether you're looking for a beer-soaked feast or some serious contemplation, Ireland's biggest celebrations are sure to put you in a festive mood.

St. Patrick's Festival

The biggest of all celebrations in Ireland, St. Patrick's Festival (stpatricksfestival.ie), named after Ireland's patron saint, celebrates the country's rich culture and heritage with parades, dancing, music, food and plenty of pints of beer. What started as a one-day holiday on March 17 is now a multiday celebration enjoyed by more than a million locals each year. Although Dublin's celebration is arguably one of the country's biggest, you're guaranteed to find holiday revelers all across Ireland, from small villages to major metropolitan cities.

Christmas

Christmas in Ireland is a grand celebration, lasting from about Dec. 24 to Jan. 6, though many count Dec. 8 as the official start of the season. Throughout the celebratory season, you'll find singing choirs and street musicians on the sidewalks and patrons filling local pubs to enjoy this important Irish holiday. Ireland's large Catholic population crowds churches across the country for midnight mass on Christmas Eve, as well as for Christmas Day mass. Dec. 26 marks St. Stephen's Day, a national holiday honoring the Christian martyr, which is celebrated with traditional ceremonies, feasts and trips to pubs across Ireland.

Bloomsday

The Irish Bloomsday celebration (jamesjoyce.ie) honors James Joyce, one of Ireland's most famous literary masters. This event is held each year on June 16, the day in which Joyce's classic novel "Ulysses" takes place. First celebrated in Ireland in 1954, Bloomsday is now a worldwide event celebrated by Joyceans across the globe. Dublin's James Joyce Centre hosts a number of events in the days leading up to Bloomsday, including reenactments, performances, readings and breakfasts based on cuisine featured in the novel. Some Bloomsday enthusiasts even don Edwardian costumes and make pilgrimages to Dublin locations mentioned in the book.

More Celebrations

No matter what time of year you choose to visit Ireland, you'll likely find some sort of celebration or event going on, from music festivals to street fairs. If you're in Galway in late September, head to the International Oyster Festival (galwayoysterfest.com) to fill up on seafood. In October, the city of Cork hosts the biggest jazz festival in Ireland (guinnessjazzfestival.com), and the town of Derry attracts partygoers near and far for its annual Banks of the Foyle Hallowe'en Carnival (derrycity.gov.uk/halloween).
*Culled from traveltrips.usatoday.com.

Famous Festivals & Traditions in Brazil By Rita Kennedy, Demand Media

Rio de Janeiro's carnival is a colorful spectacle.

With a population of more than 200 million, Brazil is world's fifth-largest country and has a highly diverse population resulting from a historic blending of its indigenous people, European settlers and African slaves. Its beautiful landscapes and many cultural events make Brazil a memorable vacation destination, but check the State Department's travel advice before you go. Crime rates are very high in Brazil and you should remain vigilant against robbery, assault and other crimes.

New Year

Frommer's rates Rio's New Year celebrations "one of the most spectacular New Year's celebrations in the world." Around 2.5 million people, most wearing white, gather on Copacabana beach to mark the New Year with a huge party, involving live music, fireworks and religious ceremonies. Look out for the flowers cast into the waves by locals making an offering to Iemanja, the Queen of the Sea. At midnight a huge firework display lights the sky before the party continues into the night.

Carnival

Brazil's best-known festival is probably carnival. It's celebrated across the nation and is linked to beginning of Lent in the Christian calendar. The festival takes place over about five days, starting on the Friday before Ash Wednesday and ending on Ash Wednesday itself. The most famous carnival is that held in Rio, where dozens of samba schools parade through the streets accompanied by colorful floats and dancers as part of a competition to find the top school. Wherever you are in Brazil at carnival time, you're likely to encounter some sort of celebration; in the northeast, Olinda's carnival is famous for its parade of almost 500 large puppets.

Passion Plays

Passion plays have a long tradition in Christianity and represent events in Jesus' life, particularly his crucifixion, death and resurrection. The passion play held in Nova Jerusalem, 118 miles from Recife on Brazil's northeast coast, is the country's largest and involves more than 500 actors. The huge theater takes up an area close to that of 12 football fields, with equally ambitious scenery representing locations around Jerusalem. The play is worth seeing in itself, but you can also experience the street fair outside. The Passion Play festival takes place each year in the week before Easter, with performances daily.

Bumba-Meu-Boi

Bumba-Meu-Boi, which roughly translates as "hit my bull," is a festival with traditional roots and takes place in most areas of the country. Locals work throughout the year to create a bull from a wire frame covered in papier mache, which is then used as part of a folk dance. The dance tells the story of a bull which was killed and then brought back to life by traditional healers and music. Although there are smaller events earlier in the year, the main month for the festivities is June. In Sao Luis, where one of the largest Bumba-Meu-Boi festival is held, around 200 bulls and their groups converge on the Joao Paulo neighborhood.
*Culled from traveltips.usatoday.com.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Traditions of Carnivals in Peru By Joanne Robitaille, Demand Media

Elaborate costumes are worn during Carnival.

Peruvian culture is a mix of both native traditions and customs imported from the Spanish colonists. Roman Catholic traditions have seeped into many aspects of Peruvian life, including the Carnivals that take place in February. And, like the other Carnivals celebrated throughout the West, the festivities act as a precursor to the solemn Lenten celebrations that follow.

Ritual of the Yunza

The Andean highland ritual of the "yunza," known as "umisha" in the jungle and "cortamonte" in the coastal region, is an important aspect of Carnival. Those in charge of the festivities artificially plant a tree loaded with gifts and decorations. When all of the guests have arrived, everyone begins dancing around the tree. After a while, couples begin to chop at the tree with an ax or a machete. The tradition continues the following year, when the couple who makes the final swing that brings down the tree make all the arrangements for that year's yunza.

Getting Wet

Watery street battles are a tradition that dates back to the 1800s. Historically, Carnavals in Peru would shut down entire cities for three days, and anyone who dared to venture out during that time ran the risk of being drenched with water. Men would roam the streets with sealed eggshells filled with scented water while women watched from above, preparing to dump buckets of water onto unsuspecting people passing below. In the modern era, the eggs have been replaced with water balloons.

Parades

Parades are one of the most familiar aspects of Carnival celebrations. Though each Peruvian city or region has its own specific elements and traditions, certain elements such as parades, costumes and dance are the same throughout the country. Families and neighborhoods get together to create allegorical floats for the parades, and people wear brightly colored costumes and masks that represent traditional characters and events. A traditional Peruvian dance called the "pandilla" is one of the more common styles of dance performed during Carnival.

Carnival Royalty

Two of the most recognizable figures in any Carnival celebration are the Carnival Queen and King Momo. The Carnival's Queen is elected, and she presides over the music contests that take place on the aptly named Queen's Night. The King, known in Spanish as "No Carnavalon," traditionally rules over the festival's parades as an embodiment of the God of craziness and fun. A representation of King Momo is traditionally burned at the end of the festival so as to banish any unwanted elements, such as fertility, before the Lenten season.

Dolls & the End of Carnival

Dolls feature in different ways during Peru's Carnival celebrations. In Cajamarca, a boy doll is used to mock public figures, while in Cuzco, rag dolls hang from light posts as representations of friends or godparents. In Cajamarca's celebrations that involve the boy doll, the doll is paraded through the streets before being given a "funeral" and then cremated in a mock burial. This "burial" traditionally marks the ceremonial end of Carnival on Ash Wednesday. An effigy doll of King Momo features in Carnival celebrations.
*Culled from traveltrips.usatoday.com.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Cultural Traditions & Festivals in Brazil By Daniella Hill, Demand Media

Brazil's Carnaval celebrations include huge throngs of dancers.

Much of Brazil's international reputation is centered around local traditions and celebrations such as capoeira, the national sport and the festivities of Carnaval. From the cult of soccer to Catholic holidays to the rituals of the local religion, Candomble, Brazil's traditions are both secular and sacred. In some cases, such as in the earthy revelry of Carnaval, the division seems all but clear.

Carnaval

Carnaval, the traditional festival of decadence before Lent begins, has some of its biggest celebrations in Brazil. The cities of Rio de Janeiro and Salvador are particularly famous for their parades; the performers spend months preparing and practicing. During the two weeks immediately preceding the festival, local community bands play throughout Rio's neighborhoods. The informal pre-festival celebrations are known as "blocos." Fancy balls take place throughout the city's upscale venues. The Copacabana Palace Ball is the crown jewel of these parties. In the streets, visitors watch the Samba School Parade from Sunday night through Monday morning. Major streets close to traffic throughout the carnaval festivities.

New Year's Celebrations

Rio is home to Reveillon, a high-spirited New Year's celebration. Early in the day, many local restaurants serve special buffet lunches. By evening, the throngs have gathered along the city's beaches to watch the midnight fireworks display. For followers of the Afro-Brazilian religion, Candomble, New Year's celebrations include wearing all-white garb, lighting candles and setting small boats loaded with trinkets into the ocean, in offering to the sea goddess Yemenja.

Bumba-meu-boi and Regional Festivals

Throughout the year, numerous regional festivals take place in all corners of Brazil. In Sao Luis, the Bumba-meu-boi festival has the townsfolk act out a folk story involving the killing and resurrection of a bull. The celebrations span several months. In Salvador, the end of January brings a ceremonial washing of the steps of the Bonfim Church, an event that draws an audience of 800,000 people. Women in traditional costumes use perfumed water to wash the steps. Leading up to Easter, the citizens of Nova Jerusalem enact a passion play, the largest in all of South America. The stages of the cross last ten days, culminating on Easter Sunday.

National Traditions

Besides the country's animated festivals and celebrations, Brazil has numerous traditions, from sports to dance to religious rites. Capoeira, a home-grown martial art, is based on self-defense practices devised by African slaves. Because tt was originally necessary to disguise the practice, the art now resembles dancing as much as fighting. Brazil's enthusiasm for soccer launches the sport to the level of a national obsession. Other national traditions draw from the predominant religions, Catholicism and Candomble. Candomble traditions include offerings to Lemanja during the new year, as well as Boa Morte, or beautiful death, a celebration that takes place in Salvador and incorporates music and dance. Samba music and dance comes from the Bantu who arrived in Brazil from Angola. This African musical import has evolved to produce Bossa Nova and other traditional forms of Brazilian music.
*Culled from traveltips.usatoday.com.

SONGKRAN FESTIVAL 2015

Songkran or the Thailand Water Fight Festival is one of the most important festival for the Thai people. It is celebrated as the traditional Thai new year, people throw water upon others people and pay respect to Buddha images.
This festival is all about cleansing, of which water is the main symbol.
Originally, people were gently sprinkle water on elders, family and friends to wish good luck. Nowadays, people will roam the street with water guns or whole buckets of water and will splash anybody in the street. Water and Fun are the main characteristics of Sonkran ! And April is the hotter month in Thailand, the festival will make sure your skin stay fully hydrated.
Thai people will also visit temples to pay respect to Buddha images and give food to monks. Buddha images will be cleaned during Songkran and people are invited to clean their house and removing useless items.
Songkran will be celebrated all around Thailand and the main tourist spots will be prepared for amazing water fights.
Be sure to protect your valuable items from being soaked by wrapping them in plastic bags or by letting them at the hotel and go join the festive spirit.

GETTING THERE

AIR

Thailand is an important aviation hub in South East Asia: Suvarnabhumi Airport serves a large number of airlines from everywhere in the worls. Shuttle bus, car rental or express train are available at the Airport.

ROAD

Bus and Taxi are cheap and convenient to go the different Areas.

TRAIN

Bangkok has several train lines running through the city.
*Culled from festivalasia.net.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

LOI KRATHONG 2015

During the full moon of the twelfth lunar month, Bangkok becomes a wonderful place full of lights. It's the Loi Krathong, the Festival of lights. Loi Krathong refers to the lotus-shaped receptacle that can float on the water. They can contains food, nuts, joss sticks, flowers, coins and a compulsory candle. The ritual is very simple, build a Loi Krathong, make a wish and let it float away with the current of a river. The flame of the candle signifies longevity, fulfillment of wishes and release from sins. People will watch their floating devices intensely hoping the candle will last as long as possible. During the twelfth full moon, thousand of people will follow the same ritual along Bangkok rivers and canals transforming the water in an amazing bed of candles.
The city of Bangkok will animate the day with beautiful parades, traditional Thai dancing, concerts, fireworks and beauty pageants. Bridges and building will also have their own suit of lights.
From few days before the full moon to the day of the full moon, spectacular illuminated barges will light up the Chao Phraya River from the Memorial Bridge to Krungthon Bridge.
Loi Krathong is one of the most renowned festival of Thailand and a good occasion to inhale the mystic atmosphere of the full moon celebration.

GETTING THERE

AIR

Thailand is an important aviation hub in South East Asia: Suvarnabhumi Airport serves a large number of airlines from everywhere in the worls. Shuttle bus, car rental or express train are available at the Airport.

ROAD

Bus and Taxi are cheap and convenient to go the different Areas.

TRAIN

Saphan Tak Sin BTS Station is the nearest station to the riverfront.

FACTS

Loi Krathong's Lyrics
November full moon shines,
Loi Krathong, Loi Krathong,
and the water's high
in the river and local klong,
Loi Loi Krathong,
Loi Loi Krathong,
Loi Krathong is here and everybody's full of cheer,
We're together at the klong,
We're together at the klong,
Each one with this krathong,
As we push away we pray,
We can see a better day.
*Culled from festivalasia.net.

Monday, 21 March 2016

YI PENG 2015 (LANTERN FESTIVAL)

The Festival of Lights is celebrated all around Thailand with Loi Krathongs (lotus-shaped receptacles) released on water to bring luck and fulfill wishes. In Chiang Mai, the observation of the festival of lights, called Yi Peng, is uniquely different. Instead of water vessel, Chiang Mai people release thousand of lighted lanterns in the sky while making a wish. The sky transforms itself in a wonderful and surreal sea of little lanterns floating away. The spectacle is mesmerizing.
The local celebration of Yi Peng in Chiang Mai is a religious ceremony in Thai language paying homage to the Buddha. The exact date is not announced and is know only a few weeks in advance. A second lantern release specially catered for foreign tourists is held usually one week after the traditional celebration for a fee of 100USD. For the international Yi Peng, the ceremony is in English and the organizer provides lanterns, seating mat, dinner.
During the week end, many events will be held in the city of Chiang Mai: traditional Thai dance, Grand Yi Peng Parade,beauty pageants, fireworks, decorations in the old city... Traditional Lanna dance featuring women with long golden fingernails dancing in synchronized movements is one of the event to catch.

GETTING THERE

AIR

Chiang Mai is an regional aviation hub in South East Asia: Chiang Mai Airport serves a large number of airlines from South East Asia. Taxis and car rental are available at the Airport.

ROAD

Bus routes exist between Chiang Mai and major cities in Thailand. A motorbike is recommended to go to the event area as the place is completely jammed.

FACTS

There are 2 lantern releases. The first one is the free traditional and local celebration in the Thai language. The second one (06 November 2014) is for tourists with the celebration in English language for a fee of 100USD (includes lanterns, seating mat, shuttle, krathong, dinner).
*Culled from festivalasia.net.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

MONKEY BUFFET FESTIVAL 2015

The Monkey Buffet Festival is quite an unique Festival in the very cultural country of Thailand. Set up in the province of Lopburi, North of Bangkok, the Monkey Buffet Festival is held for the benefit of the monkeys. 4000 kilograms of fruits, vegetables, cakes, candies are set down in front of temples on tables, in pyramid or just on a simple mat for the delight of the 3000 monkeys living in the area.
The Monkey Buffet Festival also hosts plenty of activities in relation with monkeys: music and dances with young people dress like monkeys, monkeys costumes, monkey masks... Monkey sculptures will also flourish around the area.
The Festival was invented in 1989 by a local business man in order to boost the tourism in the Lopburi province. Since thousand of visitors come every year to see the numerous monkeys filling their stomachs.
The temples where the festival is held have been built in the 10th century by the Khmer dynasty with a similar architecture from Cambodia's Angkor Wat. Now, they belong to the Monkey territory.
A word of wisdom: these monkeys are very accustomed to human presence and they won't hesitate a second to climb on people and "borrow" valuable or food for an undefined period of time.

GETTING THERE

AIR

Thailand is an important aviation hub in South East Asia: Suvarnabhumi Airport serves a large number of airlines from everywhere in the worls. Shuttle bus, car rental or express train are available at the Airport.

ROAD

Bus routes exists between Lopburi and major thailand cities.

TRAIN

Trains from Bangkok's main Hualamphong station take about 3 hours.
*Culled from festivalasia.net.

GETTING SLIPPY AT THE COCULLO SNAKE FESTIVAL (Concluding part)

Tips:

Get here really early, the procession begins at 12.00 noon and the parade lasts for approximately 1 hr 30 minutes, the problem is parking… you can end up if you arrive late parking your car up to 4 km hike uphill from the depths of the Sagitarrio Valley to get back to the small town of Cocullo severely out of breath if you are unfit.
You may hate the huge numbers of porchetta vans and mini market stalls up to the town itself and wonder why the police don't allow people to park there, but due to the huge numbers of people that attend the Cocullo Snake Festival, food must be had by attendees. Local restaurants get booked out with celebrating locals so our suggestions is to go down the porchetta Panini route.
*Culled from Cocullo website.

SHOMOLU EGUNGUN FESTIVAL IN PICTURES By Olalekan Oduntan

These are some of the people who were guests during the beginning of on going Egungun festival in Shomolu. They were all wearing the same uniforms to grace the occasion. The masquerade entertained everybody with songs and dances. The acolytes too were busy leading and chorusing the songs while onlookers and all were dancing. It was a beautiful sight to behold. The masquerade prayed for everybody to be around and alive for next year festivity. Kola nuts, Alligator pepper, Bitter kola and Local gins were used by the elders around to pray for everybody. Shomolu land is known for hosting its yearly Egungun festival full of pump and pageantry which brings a lot of masquerades out in their different colourful costumes. The people normally tax themselves to host this important event yearly because they need funds to take care of cooking, drinking and general welfare of their invited guests. They also accept voluntary donations from all their well wishers. The Egungun prays for all with chants:
We see bitter kola every year,
May we all be alive to witness next year Egungun festival.
We see kola nuts every year,
May we all be present in next year festivity.
Alligator pepper seeds are always together as a bunch,
May our lives be whole and not scattered.
May we continue to have progress in all our endeavours,
And everybody said Ase! Ase!! Ase!!!

Saturday, 19 March 2016

GETTING SLIPPY AT THE COCULLO SNAKE FESTIVAL (Part 1)

Cocullo's snake festival held on the 1st May in celebration of Saint Domenico must win awards for being not just one of Italy's strangest festivals, but also for being the most multi-cultural.
The attraction of snakes seems to be a huge pull factor, and seemingly the whole world's major ophidiophiliacs (snake-lovers) often accompanied by their snakes, alongside keen photographers, descend on the small medieval town of Cocullo, 900 masl in the Abruzzo Majella Mountains, ready to take part in this festival which has been re-enacted in its current Christian format each year, apart from 2009.
There are three supposed origins to the Cocullo Snake Festival… In the C11th apparently Saint Dominic cleared the local fields which were being overrun by snakes, and as a sign of thanks since 1392 the locals parade his statue and snakes around the streets. The second version dates to 700bc…. locals experienced the same problems in tending to their fields and Apollo ordered the village to entwine the snakes around his statue so that they would become tame and be able to farm once more. The first origin dates back some 3000 years to the Marsi who were the original inhabitants of the area who worshipped the Goddess Angizia. This goddess's official symbol was a snake and thus offerings of snakes were presented to her to fend off attacks from local wolves, bears and malaria.
The festival officially begins on March 19th, when local snake catchers/charmers (serpari) around Cocullo begin to catch 4 types of local harmless snakes: (Elaphe quatuorlineata) and the Aesculapian snake (Elaphe longissima) and grass snakes (Natrix natrix) and its dark green sister snake (Coluber viridiflavus) . Once caught they remove the snakes fangs; I am not sure what the snakes are supposed to do on their return to the wild, but hey, I guess now is not the time to think about this and potential animal rights issues…
Following an early morning Mass in the town's small church, local inhabitants ring a small bell using their own teeth to protect them against toothache for the following year. Local soil is blessed which afterwards is spread over the local fields to act as a form of natural pesticide. The wooden statue of Saint Domenico is then taken out of the small church and the serpari drape their found snakes over the statue and his jewel encrusted gold frame ready to be paraded around the narrow lanes of ancient Cocullo.
Leading from the front are the brass band, that ironically seems to be mostly composed of those most snake charmer-esque of instruments, the oboe & clarinets. Another Mass is broadcast over loudspeakers, which women traditionally dressed recite & sing, followed by sombre priests. They are followed by girls in traditional laced costumes carrying ciambelli which are local cakes that have a texture like doughnuts and are decorated with pastel coloured hundreds & thousands. Saint Domenic carries up the behind, his tamed snakes still entwined and their charmers following closely behind. The procession winds back down at the church where it all started, and on their arrival home, a huge banging fireworks display which sounds more like cannon shots begins its 10 minute overture.
If you love something out of the ordinary that gels pagan & Christian rites do visit Cocullo's snake festival; your next door neighbour may be stroking their snake next to you, but hey it gives you something to talk about as you gasp and think of a reason to decline their generous offer of holding their snake whilst jostling to get that ultimate photograph.
*Culled from Cocullo website.

Friday, 18 March 2016

SHOMOLU EGUNGUN FESTIVAL IN PICTURES By Olalekan Oduntan

Ariwodola masquerade comes out during Egungun ceremony and festival in Shomolu whenever they want to give chieftaincy titles to some prominent people in the society. The masquerade is made to come out whenever its services are needed in the town. Its coming out is always full of fanfare, pump and pageantry because everywhere will be agog with a lot of fun. Ariwodola is a spiritual masquerade and it is always praying for people when it is out. It is a popular masquerade in Orile Shomolu which has been coning out for the past fifteen years. The masquerade crowns new people by himself who are worthy to be given various chieftaincy titles to in the society.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

SAO TOME PRINCIPE HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

Although Saõ Tóme has a rich and diverse culture, there are not many festivals to this effect. However, there are many public Saõ Tóme and Príncipe holidays which travelers should take note of, such as Independence Day, which celebrates the nation's hard-fought sovereignty, and Labor Day, which commemorates all of the workers who have made the country great. On these days, the country generally shuts down and public amenities are closed.

International Workers' Day

International Workers' Day, or Labor Day as it is locally known, takes place on May 1 every year. This public holiday is marked by events celebrating the historic International Labor Movement, the development of trade unions in the country (which fight to protect workers' rights), and the contribution of every worker to the nation that São Tomé has become today.

Independence Day

On July 12, São Tomé e Príncipe celebrates the attainment of full sovereignty from the colonial rule of the Portuguese. This public holiday is filled with displays of tradition and culture in many different cities. Travelers can expect to see musical performances, dance shows, and theatrical interpretations of the centuries during which the region was a colony.

Argel Accord Day

Every year on November 26, São Tomé celebrates the national holiday of Argel Accord Day. Prior to the nation being granted independence, the Argel Accords―which promised to grant sovereignty―were signed in Portugal. These accords came about from the actions of Portuguese civil society against the then dictatorial government. Argel Accords Day then not only commemorates the signing of these historical documents, but the efforts of the Portuguese people who fought for the freedom of Portuguese colonies around the world.

Christmas Day

São Tomé has a large Christian population, accounting for about 80 percent of people in the country. Understandably then, Christian religious holidays like Christmas Day on December 25 are a big deal. Christmas marks the birth of the Christian messiah Jesus. The day is celebrated by going to mass and the enjoyment of feasts with friends and family. The day has taken on a cultural aspect as well as it is considered a non-working day and most people in the country, religious or not, partake in the festivities.
*Culled from iexplore.com.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

KENYA HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

Kenya celebrates a number of national and regional events and festivals throughout the year, usually connected to religion, historical events or African arts. Music, food and dance feature heavily in the celebrations, which usually emphasize family, community and unity. The vast majority of the population is Christian, so the major religious Kenya holidays of Easter and Christmas are also public holidays. The country's 11 percent Muslim population means that Islamic traditions are also observed, mainly near the coast, which had a historically stronger Arab influence.

East African Arts Festival

In March each year, Nairobi hosts the East African Art Festival, the biggest of its kind in the region, which attracts competitors and spectators from around the world. The three-day event showcases art, music, theater, music, fashion, literature, architecture, sculpture and traditional crafts. It is hosted by the Kenyan National Museum.

Easter

In Kenya, Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays, marking the long weekend commemorating Jesus Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. Good Friday often sees processions through the streets with dramatic recreations of the Stations of the Cross, culminating in church services. Saturday often involves a bonfire outside the church and the lighting of candles and prayers inside, with Sunday being a feast marked by singing, bell-ringing, church services, and family togetherness.

Eid al-Fitr

Eid Al Fitr is an Islamic celebration that usually takes place in September, when the sighting of the moon marks the end of the Muslim holy month of fasting during Ramadan. Eid celebrations usually involve personal cleansing, communal prayers, charity donations, and three full days of feasting and spending time with friends and family. The celebrations are biggest along the coastal areas where most of the Muslim population of Kenya lives.

International Camel Derby and Festival

The annual International Camel Derby and Festival has been held on the outskirts of Maralal town in northern Kenya since 1990. The main feature is the camel racing which takes place over several days through semi-desert regions and is open to amateurs and novices. Visitors come from all over the world to take part or watch, and there are also cycle races, donkey rides, children's entertainment, and the opportunity to rent a camel for the day. The derby usually takes place in August.

Mombasa Carnival

November is when the city of Mombasa celebrates Kenyan culture with a carnival by the Indian Ocean. Artists, dancers, musicians and tribal people flock to take part in the concerts that make up one of Kenya's largest annual events. One of the major features is the main street parade with floats that showcase the different tribal identities across the nation. There are street stalls and opportunities for eating, drinking and dancing.

Jamhuri Day

Jamhuri means "republic" in Swahili and December 12 is set aside as a public holiday to celebrate Kenya's becoming a republic in 1964. The date is doubly important as the country also gained independence from Britain on December 12, 1963. The occasion is marked by dancing, parades and a speech from each of the eight Provincial Presidents. Many towns also host cultural performances, while families will often get together for meals. Fireworks are often a highlight and air shows have become popular in modern times.

Christmas

Kenya's many Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25, which is a public holiday. The events are largely religious in nature, featuring church services, caroling and nativity performances. Houses and churches are decorated with balloons, flowers and green leaves and storefronts in the larger towns are bathed in fake snow. If parents can afford gifts for the children, it will often be books, practical items or a new outfit for attending church. Families get together to attend services then enjoy a feast, usually of roasted goat.

New Year

New Year celebrations begin the evening of December 31 with parties, music and church services, leading up to the midnight countdown which sees fireworks, music and cheering to welcome in the New Year. Church services and non-religious parties take place all across the nation, many of which continue after dawn. Nairobi has the biggest event, with musical performances and fireworks displays. Mombasa is known for its New Year beach parties, often hosted by local radio stations with live music and DJs.
*Culled from iexplore.com.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

MALI HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

Nowhere are Mali's many distinct cultures more proudly displayed than during the country's numerous festivals. A large percentage of Mali holidays take place in February, including Segou's Festival on the Niger and Timbuktu's Desert Festival, two of the country's biggest celebrations. During one of Mali's most unique events, all the residents of Djenné descends upon the Great Mosque to help apply fresh mud to the community's most famous landmark.

Gouin Festival

This three-day January festival takes place around the normally quiet region of Gouina between Kayes and Bafoulabé. Goumbé and jazz musicians perform among the monkeys and hippos that live in the region teeming with wildlife. The event also features five different Kayes dance groups, craft workshops and Senegal River walks past the waterfalls.

Festival on the Niger

This Segou February festival is filled with music, dance, puppet shows, workshops, craft vendors, and pirogue boat races along the Niger River. No fewer than 15 of the Segou's unique puppetry and dance styles are represented, which also attracts many of Mali's famous musicians. Wood carvings, paintings, sculptures, and photographs from the country's most talented artists are displayed in galleries around the region. Actors, musicians and puppeteers accompany centuries-old legends that Segovian storytellers share beneath the balanzan trees.

Desert Festival

This lively February music event's location may have moved from Essakane to Timbuktu, but the likes of Robert Plant and Justin Adams still perform alongside some of Mali's most talented Tuareg musicians. The Desert Festival evolved from a traditional Tuareg gathering filled with lively discussions and fun to an international event of peace. To this day, festival attendees celebrate the 1996 Flame of Peace ceremony when over 3,000 firearms were burned in Timbuktu. Unlike many other music festivals, the stage is surrounded by nothing but desert and the audience remains still and quiet. The more lively parties begin at nearby discos during the wee hours of the night.

Diamwari Festival

The Diamwari Festival has been one of Mopti's main events ever since it was held for the first time along the Bani River's banks. A weekend of "happiness," as the word translates in English, takes place for three days toward the end of February. The festival features gigantic puppets from Djenné, Dogon masks and at least four different dance troupes. Visitors can purchase unique crafts from Mali's talented artisans. The winners of the festival's
pirogue race receives money and victory flags called jonjon .

Daoula-Ba Festival

The word ba means "big" in English, and this festival held in the village of Sôh every March certainly lives up to its name. Organic cotton, Sôh's largest export is front and center with many of Mali's most important dignitaries getting guided tours of the village's organic cotton looms while costumed theater performances entertain the children. The festival's highlight, however, may be the women's colorful drum circle dances.

Dogon Mask Festival

This April festival is among Mali's most famous gatherings. The masks the men wear during these five days represent Amma, the Dogon goddess of creation, and are believed to contain the souls of the dead and drive away evil spirits. Toward the end of the event, buffalo and hyena masks are believed to predict the tribe's future.

Plastering the Great Mosque

Each year, an imam announces the date between late April and early May when the entire population of Djenné gathers to apply fresh mud to the city's historic Great Mosque. The mud is prepared in pits with young boys helping to stir it by playing in it. Women and girls bring water to the men as they carry and carefully apply the mud to the mosque. Afterwards, all of Djenné celebrates with a gigantic feast filled with dancing and drumming.

International Rails Festival

Mali may presently have no passenger rail service, but this three-day festival still takes place each June in Kayes, the "City of Rails." Train conferences and debates are held alongside dance performances, concerts, cycling races, and wrestling matches throughout Mali and neighboring Senegal.
*Culled from iexplore.com.

Monday, 14 March 2016

ANGOLA HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

There are quite a few Angola holidays and festivals. Angolans love to party and celebrations revolve around art, music and religion.

Lubango Festival

Based on the feast of Our Lady of the Hill, Lubango Festival is a 30-day celebration held in Lubango City in Angola's Huila Province. Beginning in August, it features music performances, fashion parades, a sports tournament, motorbike racing, and the prestigious Miss Huila beauty pageant. The festival also kicks off the Expo-Huila trade show, along with some workshops and a cattle auction.

Muxima Pilgrimage

Held in late August or early September, the pilgrimage n Muxima village is the most popular of the religious devotions in Angola, attracting thousands of locals and foreigners.

Sumbe Music Festival

Also known as Festi-Sumbe, this three-day September celebration is an international festival mainly taking place in Sumbe City in the Kwanza Sul province. Marked by performances, bands, singers and dancers from a wide variety of musical genres, it's quite the show.

Luanda Island Feast

Luanda Island Feast is another cultural showcase. The annual party is held on the second Friday of November to honor the deity of the waters and protector of fishermen known as Kianda in Angola.

Angola Carnival

Angola Carnival is one of the most colorful and widely celebrated festivals in the country. Beginning on the last Thursday of the Lenten season, it goes until the day before Ash Wednesday and features shows, performances, parades, and dances.
*Culled from iexplore.com.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

MAURITANIA HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

Mauritania is still developing its festival culture, but there are a few religious events and Mauritania holidays worth noting. African Liberation Day is a continent-wide celebration of unity and provides a great opportunity for travelers to learn more about the region's history. There are also cultural and religious festivities like Diwali for the Hindu community.

African Liberation Day

Every year on May 25th, Mauritania celebrates the anniversary of the founding of the Organization for African Unity, known today as the African Union. The day is memorable around the continent and is sometimes called "Africa Day" for short. It is marked by conferences, exhibitions and displays celebrating the different African cultures in the country and beyond.

Tabaski

One of the most important holidays on the Islamic, and therefore Mauritanian calendar is Tabaski, a two/three day event in October commemorating the Prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his first-born son to God. The festival is also known as the Feast of the Sacrifice because participants slaughter a sheep, mimicking Ibrahim's final actions in the biblical tale. The meat is divided amongst friends and family during feasts across the country.

Diwali

Held annually in November and celebrated by the Hindu community living in Mauritania, Diwali is a Hindu celebration of light over darkness and good over evil. It signifies the arrival of spring each year as the community bids farewell to winter. Events are generally held at Hindu temples in the capital of Nouakchott and are characterized by the lighting of lanterns and tea candles, which illuminate the city. Invariably, there are also many festivities after the religious rituals including dancing, music and fireworks.

National Independence Day

Mauritania celebrated its independence from France in November 1960. National Independence Day is an important marker of liberation not only in Mauritania, but also on the African continent as a whole. The day is a public holiday so travelers should expect most things to be shut down as citizens partake in the day's festivities.
*Culled from iexplore.com

TUNISIA HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

Most of the Tunisia holidays and festivals take place in summer, and most are focused on music, crafts, or other aspects of Tunisian culture. The Tunisian Medina Festival livens up the holy month of Ramadan in the Tunisian capital each year, while Carthage and Hammamet each host their own international festivals, filled with music, dance, and creative arts. Tunisia closes each year with its oldest festival of all, the International Festival of the Sahara, a tribute to southern Tunisia's traditional Sahara Desert culture.

Tunisian Medina Festival

The municipal theater in the heart of Tunis is the main venue of this festival, which is held in the Tunisian capital during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which can fall at any time of the year. In addition to the usual array of religious ceremonies that normally take place in Muslim cities during Ramadan, this festival also features international films and musical performances. Street shows and people dressed in medieval costumes spill out across the city.

Festival of the Oases of Mountain in Tamerza

Tunisia's largest mountain oasis first hosted this annual March festival to commemorate the 100th anniversary of one of Tunisia's most famous poets, Abou El Kacem Chebbi. The smaller Degueche child festival and El Khiyam tent festival take place at the same time as this celebration of Tamerza culture. Visitors can sample local food and purchase local crafts. The festival also features two animation shows, a local art show, film screenings, horse racing, and poetry readings.

Festival of the Purebred Arabian Horse of Maknassy

No known breed of horse has a longer history than the 5,000-year-old Arabian horses that are showcased during this June festival. The ancestors of today's Arabian horses carried conquering armies across ancient Mesopotamia. An Arabian horse racing display is the main event of this festival's first day, while the next two days are dedicated to an international Arabian horse show. Africa's largest horse show also includes a craft fair featuring artisans from across Tunisia.

International Festival of Carthage

At no other time of year does the always-popular city of Carthage welcome more visitors than during this annual festival. Held in Carthage's Ancient Roman 7,500-seat amphitheater, the festival starts in the middle of July and continues into August. The first International Festival of Carthage was held in 1964, but the event has since grown into one of Northern Africa's largest entertainment festivals. James Brown, Louis Armstrong, and Ray Charles are just a handful of the legendary musicians who have performed here.

International Festival of Hammamet

Like its sister festival in Carthage, Hammamet's annual international festival is a celebration of music, dance, and other performing arts. For more than a month between July and August, this picturesque coastal community on northeast Tunisia hosts dozens of jazz and other musicians from around the globe. However, this is not longer just a music festival; visitors now also have roughly a dozen French theatrical plays to choose from.

International Ulysse Festival of Djerba

This festival on Tunisia's 'island of lotus eaters' starts in July, lasts until August, and attracts visitors from across the country and the world. Djerba's Houmt Souk is filled with performances by local actors, musicians, and visual artists. One day of the festival is dedicated entirely to children's entertainment, another day is dedicated to sports, and a third focuses on arts and crafts made by women. The 10-day Guellala Pottery Festival also occurs during this period.

Tozeur Oasis Festival

Performers from 10 different countries take part in southern Tunisia's largest cultural festival. Apart from a brief period during WWII, this festival has taken place every year in one form or another since 1938, and became international in 1991. Parades, poetry recitations, film screenings, and horseback riding and racing along southern Tunisia's oasis are among the highlights of this festival, which starts in late November and extends into December.

International Festival of the Sahara

Each December, Tunisia ends each year with its oldest and most famous festival. This Douz festival was originally named the Camel Festival when it was held for the first time in 1910. It has since grown into a four-day tribute to southern Tunisia's nomadic cultures and traditions. Douz's H'naiech Stadium hosts most of the main events, including camel marathons, Arabian horse racing, and traditional Bedouin wedding ceremonies. However, the most popular event of all may be the poetry contest, which is sponsored by Abdellatif Belgacem, a famous desert poet.
*Culled from iexplore.com.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

CAMEROON HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

Cameroon holidays and festivals are a lot of fun for travelers in the right place at the right time. Generally held in the larger cities of Douala and Yaoundé, but there are a few in the smaller regions, as well. From celebrations of the arts like the Festival National des Arts et de la Culture to traditional showcases like the Ngondo Festival, events in Cameroon have a lot to offer.

African Music Market

Music lovers should definitely attend the African Music Market or the Le Kolatier, as it's known colloquially in Cameroon. This festival which takes place every two years in Douala is an amazing gathering of some of the best African musicians in the region. These individuals and groups come together in the spirit of collaboration to perform a celebration of the region's vibrant music. There are also interactive activities like seminars, workshops and a fun trade fair.

Nyem-Nyem Festival

Held during July in Ngaoundéré, a city in the Adamawa area, the Nyem-Nyem Festival is held to commemorate the resistance movement of the Nyem-Nyem people against German control. Locals come out in full force, showing their support for those who fought for the region's independence. The occasion is marked by cultural dances with full traditional attire.

Culture Week

Observed in either August or September, Culture Week takes place all over Cameroon. The youth travel back to their villages to pay respect to their families and ancestors. The week also involves music shows, wrestling matches, sports games and traditional dances that involve sacred masks.

African Theater Festival for Children and Young People (FATEJ)

November in Cameroon marks the exciting arrival of the FATEJ. Held every two years in Yaoundé, the festival brings together young people from across Africa and around the world to participate in theatre workshops delivered by industry professionals. The event is a great opportunity for troupes around the country to hone their craft in a cosmopolitan and collaborative environment.

Festival National des Arts et de la Culture (FENAC)

FENAC is the largest festival in Cameroon that has no religious affiliation. Simply a celebration of the country's vibrant arts scene, artists from all over help to grow the event and promote the rich heritage of the region. Taking place in Moroua in December, FENAC is characterized by lively parades, colorful music and dance shows.

Ngondo Festival

Also taking place in December, Ngondo is a celebration of one of Cameroon's many ethnic groups. Held in the city of Douala, the festival's main goal is to showcase the arts and culture of the Sawa people who mainly inhabit the region's coastal areas. The event takes place on the banks of the Wouri River and it's a wonderful time to see the streets taken over by dance, song and friendly competitions like canoe races. The lucky travelers who can make it here during this time are bound to have a good experience.
*Culled from iExplore.

Friday, 11 March 2016

NAMIBIA HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

Namibia is extremely proud of its diversity and German roots, and locals like to celebrate with loud and colorful festivals. One of the must-see Namibia holidays on the cultural calendar is the Windhoek Karneval (WIKA), which features masked balls, musical performances, and, of course, carnivals. The widely popular Oktoberfest event is also worth attending if you're in the country.

Bank Windhoek Arts Festival

Held every February, the Bank Windhoek Arts Festival celebrates local artists and their work. It encourages the development of artists, helping locals establish a name in the industry and giving people a vehicle to enjoy the local design scene. A variety of events from dance and theater to visual arts are held throughout the capital.

Enjando Street Festival

Also known as Mbapira, the Enjando Street Festival is a loud display of traditional dance, complete with live music and national costumes that is held in Namibia's capital, Windhoek, every March.

Windhoek Karneval

The biggest cultural event in Windhoek, and Namibia in general, is the Windhoek Kareneval or WIKA. A remnant leftover from German occupation, visitors in attendance will feel a distinct German vibe throughout the festival. Held in April, WIKA involves a number of events including musical performances and a masked ball for adults and carnival and Independence Avenue parade for kids.

Africa Day

Race has always been a part of the national conversation in this part of Africa, mainly due to the apartheid and other forms of discrimination the people have suffered throughout the years. Africa Day, held in May in Namibia, is when local communities come together to promote cooperation and a peaceful coexistence. It is a celebration of the diversity of the people.

Kuste Karneval

Yet another remnant of German occupation in Namibia, the Kuste Karneval, held every August, is Swakopmund's version of a street party. The festivities in this coastal city take the form of parades, food stalls and all-night ragers.

Heroes' Day (Maharero Day)

One very traditional festival that visitors to Namibia may want to check out is Heroes' Day, or Maharero Day. Celebrated every August in the town of Okahandaja, this loud and colorful festival commemorates the efforts of Namibia's war heroes with military processions and traditional costumes.

Oktoberfest

Having formally been a territory of the Germans, Namibians naturally celebrate what has become one of the world's best-known drinking events, Oktoberfest. Beer, fun and games attract people of all ages to the capital of Windhoek.
*Culled from iExplore.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

FESTIVALS OF GHANA

One of the most attractive aspects of the Ghanaian culture is the colorful traditional festivals and durbars which are held yearly in all parts of the country. These festivals reveal some common features and beliefs of our society. Through the festivals, the people remember their ancestors and ask for their protection. Festivals are also held in order to purify the whole state so that people can enter the New Year with confidence and hope. Below are some major festivals to which you are invited.

A Description of a few of the major festivals in Ghana.

DIPO (Puberty Rites)

A puberty festival to initiate young girls into womanhood with a parade in attire close to nudity. Held in Krobo land, 50 miles east of Accra. April.

ABOAKYIR (Deer hunting)

A hunting expedition by two Asafo groups to catch live antelope. The first group to present its catch to the Chief at a colorful durbar is declared winner and is highly regarded for bravery. Winneba, 17 miles west of Accra. May.

BAKATUE (Fish Harvesting)

A royal procession of chiefs and stool holders riding in palanquins through principal streets to a sacred shrine where chiefs pour libation and sprinkle sacred food. Pouring of mashed yam and eggs into the Bake (lagoon), followed by scooping with a net, after which permission is given to fishermen to open the fishing season, after a ban. Festival culminates in a regatta. Edina/Elmina, 99 miles west of Accra. July.

FETU AFAHYE (Harvest commemorating first contact with whites)

A colorful procession of chiefs, amid drumming, dancing and firing of musketry. There is a uniqueness in the attire. Sacrifice of a cow to the seventy-seven (77) gods of Oguaa. Cape Coast (Oguaa), 90 miles west of Accra. August/September.

HOMOWO (Harvest/Thanksgiving)

Ceremonies for this festival include a procession of chiefs through principal streets with all twins in the area dressed purposely for the occasion. All this is done amidst the sprinkling of festive food kpokpoi to the gods and ancestors of the state. Accra/Ga Traditional Area. August/September.

ODWIRA (Harvest/Thanksgiving)

This festival dramatizes the tradition myths and legends of the people, and commemorates a period of remembrance and thanksgiving to the gods for their mercies in the past year, and renewal of family and societies. A durbar of chiefs crowns the celebration amidst drumming and dancing. Akropong Traditional Area, 90 miles north of Accra. September.

DAMBA

Originally linked with the birth of Mohammed, the Prophet of Allah. This festival has assumed a traditional character A two- day festival full of pageantry, showmanship and horse riding. Tamale/Yendi, 425 miles north of Accra. September/October.

HOGBETSOTSO

Symbolizes the migration of Anlos from the tyrannical ruler of Notsie in older day Togoland to their present homeland in Ghana. There is a re-enactment of this migration, which involved walking backwards, performed by women, children, the old and the young alike. Anlo Traditional Area, 88 miles east of Accra. November.

FIOK (War festival)

A war festival to re-enact ancient historic exploits of the Busa people. There is a durbar, as well as drumming, dancing, and thanksgiving to the gods. Sandema. December.

ADAE (festival of Purifying of the Ashantis' ancestral stools)
Festival of the Asante. Celebrated every 40th day. Especially magnificent when it falls on a Sunday. Kumasi, 168 miles (272 kilometers) north of Accra.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

SENEGAL HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

Senegal's most famous sporting event, the Paris-Dakar Rally, has been held in South America since 2009. However, there are tons of Senegal holidays and lively festivals to enjoy, most of which are stunning showcases of Senegalese music and art. The Senegalese ring in every New Year by drumming and celebrating at the Abéné Festivalo and wind down each year with the Les Blues du Fleuve acoustic blues concert series. Contemporary artists from across Africa seize the opportunity to display their talents at the Dak'art Biennale, held only once every two years.

Abéné Festivalo

The annual 10-day drumming festival in the Casamance community of Abéné begins at the end of December and extends into the New Year. The djembe and percussion players may be the festival's main event, but visitors can also enjoy nightly dancing and traditional Senegalese wrestling matches. This celebration of Casamance culture attracts performers and visitors from across West Africa and even as far as Europe.

Senegal Independence Day

Senegal celebrates its independence day on April 4, the day the territory first became independent from France as part of the short-lived Federation of Mali. Schools are closed for two weeks and most Senegalese spend this national holiday visiting family and friends. Drill teams and color guards from Senegal's military and police forces march down Dakar's streets during Senegal's largest Independence Day parades.

Dak'Art Biennale

This colorful Dakar festival may only take place once every other May, but it is well worth the wait. The festival attracts contemporary artists from throughout Africa, who display their paintings, sculptures, and other masterpieces in galleries and venues across Senegal's capital.

St Louis Jazz Festival

Each May, St Louis hosts one of Africa's largest jazz festivals, where legends such as Joe Zainul and Herbie Hancock perform alongside no fewer than 30 new artists every year. The event has expanded to include soul, blues, and even rap performances held in venues across St Louis. However, Senegal River cruises may be the most romantic ways to enjoy these unforgettable musical performances.

Kaay Fecc

This Dakar festival held between late May and early June is a celebration of traditional and contemporary dance from across Africa and the rest of the world. However, the focus is on African choreographic expression, entertainment, and education.

Gorée Diaspora Festival

This artistic festival was established to promote links between Senegal and the descendants of the slaves forced to leave Africa from Gorée Island. Conferences and meetings filled with debates and discussions are held alongside lively dancing and musical performances. Many performers and visitors of African descent have rediscovered their roots at this emotional festival held between November and December each year.

Festival International du Film de Quartier

Each December, Dakar hosts Senegal's largest film festival, originally created in 1999 as a showcase for Media Centre of Dakar production trainees. Today, filmmakers from across Senegal can have their productions screened at restaurants, museums, and other centers of culture throughout Dakar. Many Dakar institutions mount special screens during the festival.
*Culled from iExplore.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

IVORY COAST HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

Festivals in the Ivory Coast are often a celebration of cultural traditions. With a good number of the population adhering to the Muslim faith, religious events related to Islamic beliefs are widely observed. Côte d'Ivoire Holidays also include celebrating different pieces of history, many of which are characterized by festive parades and colorful performances.

Carnival in Bouaké

The Ivoirians version of Mardi Gras, this week-long carnival is one of the most well-attended events in the Ivory Coast. It is held in Bouaké in March each year.

Fête du Dipri

This eccentric April celebration is held in the town of Gomon, where people perform different kinds of rituals in order to exorcise and drive evil spirits out of the village. The event starts at midnight and continues until late afternoon the following day.

Independence Day

Ivory Coast's Independence Day is celebrated on August 7 each year to commemorate the country's liberation from France. The event is marked by all kinds of cultural activities, lively performances, parades, and other festivities.

Fêtes des Masques

The most popular of all the Ivory Coast events, Fêtes des Masques, or the Festival of Masks, is an annual event held in November. It is a time to pay homage to the forested spirits embodied by the villagers who wear colorful costumes and masks. The celebration is held in the northern region in the town of Man.

Christmas Day

Christmas Day (December 25) is celebrated by local Christians with all-night church services that start on Christmas Eve (December 24) and end at 6:00 a.m. During worship, you can expect singing, group dancing, poetry recitation, skits, testimonies, prayers, and a sermon. Ivoirian Christians do not exchange gifts on Christmas, they wait until the new year to signal good prosperity.

Islam-Related Holidays

Major Muslim holidays are celebrated and observed in the Ivory Coast. These include the period of fasting known as Ramadan and the post-Ramadan feast known as Eid al-Fitr. Tabaski, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, is observed by religious families. The event dates vary according to the lunar calendar.
*Culled from iExplore.

Monday, 7 March 2016

TOGO HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

Togo is a society that encompasses 37 ethnic tribal groups, and the variety of festivals celebrated throughout the year in different parts of the country reflects this diverse mix of African traditions. For example, Gbagba, which celebrates traditional African agricultural values, is one of the largest Togo holidays. Voodoo is also followed in Togo, an aspect which is reflected by the annual Voodoo festival.

Gadao

Celebrated in the central city of Sokode, this three-day festival is usually held in March. Each day, different ceremonies take place: the purpose of the first day is to thank ancestors for their harvests; the second day is known as the "Feast of Knives" and is a show of might dating back to the days of Semassi warriors; the final day is called 'Kosso' and is when women come to celebrate the role of warriors.

Evala

Held in July every year in Togo, this festival of initiation for young ladies is held in Kabye land. Locals dress in traditional costume and there are several dancing ceremonies.

Gbagba

Held every August in the Kpalime region, this multi-day festival has three purposes: firstly, to worship the animist deities; secondly, to signal the end of the farming cycle with the harvest; and thirdly, to celebrate the beginning of the rest period. There are many songs and dances performed, all with an undercurrent of traditional African drumming.

Voodoo Festival

This Togo event is held in the village of Glidji every September and celebrates the indigenous beliefs and the start of the new year. The highlight of the festival is a sacred stone, the color of which predicts fortunes of the coming year. Blue indicates abundant harvests, red means it will be a year of war, black means famine and floods, while white means the year will be blessed with luck. The festival is held 30 miles from Lome and is a time of year which many families use to reunite.
*Culled from iExplore.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

BENIN VOODOO FESTIVALS - IN PICTURES

The Egungun wear flamboyant sequin-spangled capes adorned with animal and human motifs. Their faces were veiled by cowry shell screens and it is said to be bad luck if you see their eyes
Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

BENIN VOODOO FESTIVALS - IN PICTURES

Voodoo priests ask the gods to intervene on behalf of people but local adherents stress that they have nothing to do with sorcery or black magic. They also sometimes ask for offerings, such as a chicken or a sheep, which is then sacrificed to the divinity, or some alcohol is poured onto the floor
Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

BENIN VOODOO FESTIVALS - IN PICTURES

Voodoo is more than a belief system, it is a complete way of life, including culture, philosophy, language, art, dance, music and medicine
Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

BENIN VOODOO FESTIVALS - IN PICTURES

A week of activity centred around the worship of voodoo culminates when people from across Benin, as well as Togo and Nigeria, decend on Ouidah for the annual voodoo festival
Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

BENIN VOODOO FESTIVALS - IN PICTURES

Shrouded in mystery and often misunderstood, voodoo was acknowledged as an official religion in Benin in 1989, and is increasing in popularity with around 17% of the population following it
Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

Friday, 4 March 2016

BENIN VOODOO FESTIVALS - IN PICTURES

An Egungun spirit stands during the ceremony. Ouidah is Benin's voodoo heartland, and thought to be the spiritual birthplace of voodoo or vodun as it known in Benin. Ouidah, a former slave port on the Atlantic Ocean, about 25 miles from Cotonou, Benin's capital city, is known by many as the birthplace of voodoo.
Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

BENIN VOODOO FESTIVALS - IN PICTURES

An Egungun spirit from the Nigerian Yoruba clan, stands during a voodoo ceremony. The Egungun are masqueraded dancers that represent the ancestral spirits of the Yoruba, a Nigerian ethnic group, and are believed to visit earth to possess and give guidance to the living.
Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

BENIN VOODOO FESTIVALS - IN PICTURES

Benin's voodoo festival is held every year and is the west African country's most vibrant and colourful event. It features voodoo dolls and devotees in animal skins chanting and dancing to drumbeats, as well as horse racing on the beach and food and drink.

Topics Benin Festivals Religion:

Nigerian Yoruba dressed as voodoo spirits perform during a voodoo ceremony in Ouidah, Benin. Each spirit represents the reincarnation of a dead member of the Nigerian Nagu clan
Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.
*Culled from theguardian

The Famous Adire Merchants of Abeokuta (Concluding part)

She lamented, however, that Custom officials harass them on the road and extort money from them. "A consignment of goods just came in a few days ago that was delayed for several days by customs officials. They only released it when N1 million was paid to them. Several consignments have been seized in the past and nothing was done about them. Why should we be harassed just for going to bring down goods from Kano? We need the federal government to look into this issue as it is affecting our business. We are just business people making honest and legitimate living. We also want government to resuscitate our moribund textiles industry like the United Textiles, Gaskiya Textile, Arewa Textiles etc so that we will not need to look outside the shores of the country to get materials. Even the candles we use in processing the Adire is imported from England. We also urge the state government to quickly finish the road construction at Kemta, so that our members that have been displaced can return to their stalls. God has blessed this country. It is only in this small Kemta enclave in Abeokuta that people come all the way from different parts of the world to buy Adire. So why don't we celebrate ourselves?"
Mrs Temilola Sadiq is one of the numerous traders at the market. She said she has been in the trade for over 17 years. "I was born into it. Initially I was not so involved in it. I was just soaking the fabrics for new to production. But now I am fully into it. When I started I was using a small shack at the roadside but over the years I have saved enough to have my own shop in the market. We are making sure that the trade does not die with us that is why we involve our kids in the day to day running of our businesses. Although I do not have a daughter, I have a son who I am training to take over from me."
Princess Mansurat Adunni also shares the same excitement. "I started over 17 years ago. My mother introduced me to it when I was young. The proceeds from the trade were used by our parents to train us. We are doing the same. My daughter follows me to work every day to learn the trade. We face challenges everyday but with God's grace we are surmounting them."
One of the products of the informal 'Adire making' school is young graduate, Folashade, who spoke to Sunday Trust. She said she has taken her mother's line of work when she could not get gainful employment after graduating from university.
"When I graduated I waited for like three years without a job. Then I decided to help out in the trade. This is what I have been doing since I was in primary school, so deciding to use it as means of making ends meet, was an easy decision for me. I have no regrets. If I get a white collar job today I will not abandon the trade. I even intend to pass it on to my kids when they come of age and show interest."
A customer, Mrs Adeko who came from Ondo town to buy the fabrics, told Sunday Trust that the Kemta market is a magnet for all lovers of quality fabrics. 'I came all the way from my base to buy materials here. Here you get the original. They have unique Kampala products you cannot get anywhere else. I also brought my faded clothes so that they can dye them for me with quality dye," she said.
*Culled from www.dailytrust.com.ng
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...