Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Swaziland Holidays and Festivals

The Ezulwini Valley hosts two of the most magnificent traditional Swaziland holidays, neither of which has changed much during the past 200 years. Young girls cut and present reeds to Swaziland's Queen Mother during the Umhlanga Reed Dance, held between August and September, while the Incwala Ceremony pays tribute to Swaziland's royal family at Lobamba's royal palace. Swaziland's most popular performing arts festival, the Bushfire Festival, offers a far more modern atmosphere at the House of Fire nightclub each May.

Marula Festival

Swaziland's annual marula season begins in the middle of February with this lively festival which the locals call
Emaganwini. These exotic green fruits grow for several months and are most commonly used to make Swaziland's famous marula beer. Swaziland's royal family participates in the country's largest song and dance event at their Ebuhleni palace, while another celebration takes place at the Queen Mother's family home in Hlane village.

Bushfire Music Festival

Swaziland's most unusual open-air art gallery and nightclub, House of Fire, hosts the country's biggest performing arts festival each May. Dozens of musicians, poets, dancers, and theater groups from around the world perform at this spacious Malkerns Valley venue alongside food and craft fairs. Film screenings are also part of this fascinating three-day festival.

Sibebe Survivor

Mbabane Mbuluzi's Rotary Club sponsors this annual July charity trek to the summit of the world's biggest exposed granite dome, Sibebe Rock. Participants are encouraged to bring their own bottled water. Those who make it to Sibebe Rock's summit are rewarded with breathtaking views. Breakfasts, prizes, and certificate presentations take place adjacent to the Mbuluzi Clinic. Only 4,000 walkers can participate each year, so early registration is essential.

Umhlanga Reed Dance

Some of the 100,000 dancing Swazi maidens who present tall reeds to the Queen Mother during this eight-day traditional Swaziland festival are genuine princesses, who are easily identified by the red feathers in their hair. Only the final two days of the festival, which takes place between the end of August and early September, are open to the public. The reeds the Queen Mother receives from the brightly-dressed girls are used to repair the palace and make windbreaks.

Simunye Country Fair

Each October, the Simunye Country Club hosts this three-day, family-fun weekend filled with beer tents, circus acts, live music, amusement park rides, and entertainment for children. Goat races and a snake handling demonstration by the manager are among the fair's most unique events.

Incwala Ceremony

No Swazi festival is more culturally important than this annual tribute to the nation's royal family. This festival, which takes place between the end of December and the beginning of February, is also called the 'Festival of the First Fruits' because it takes place during the beginning of Swaziland's harvest season. The festival's first sacred rituals take place under a full moon before costumed warriors try to impress the king with their dancing performances at Lobamba's royal palace. The king is also presented with the harvest's first freshly-picked pumpkin.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Niger Holidays and Festivals

Around 90 percent of Niger's population is Muslim, and this influences the ceremonies and festivals that are celebrated throughout the year. For example, Ramadan and the associated Eid al Fitr are important Islamic festivals observed in Niger. The rest of the population follows the Baha'i faith, and Christianity, although the larger festivals in Niger will reflect traditional, indigenous beliefs, such as the Cure Salee (Festival of Nomads). Christian festivals are also observed as Niger holidays, such as Christmas and Easter.

Easter

Easter Monday is a national public holiday in Niger. Although Christians are a minority in the country, the government respects the beliefs of both Muslims and Christians since both holidays are observed nationally. Easter is usually April or May, according to the Christian Calendar.

Nigerien Independence Day

Celebrated on August 3 annually, this public holiday commemorates the country's independence from France in 1960. Since 1975 it has also been conjointly celebrated as Arbor Day, where citizens are encouraged to plant a tree to celebrate their young country's nascence, but also to combat desertification, which is a concerning environmental problem the country faces.

Cure Salee

This is the largest traditional festival celebrated in Niger, where the Tuareg and Wodaabe people from the north gather in the town of Ingall to celebrate the end of the rainy season. It usually occurs on the last weekend of September, just as the rains are ceasing. Cure Salee translates as 'Salt Cure' from French (the official language of Niger). The clans gather at the salt flats and pools to refresh their cattle and goats in preparation for the dry season ahead of them. It is also a time of traditional courtship, and many weddings are held during this time. The government has been sponsoring this centuries-old tradition and now heralds it as a major tourist attraction.

Eid al Fitr

This is a Muslim festival held at the end of the 30-day Ramadan fast. Ramadan is usually held between September and November, according to the Islamic calendar. The most notable gathering for the Eid al Fitr festival is the horseman show and carnival at the Sultan's Palace, in the desert city of Zinder.

Tabaski

Also known as Eid al Adha, this is an Islamic festival commemorating Abraham's sacrifice. At this time the locals feast on goat or lamb in remembrance, and it is considered an important family festival in Niger. It usually occurs in December or January according to the Islamic calendar.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Monday, 29 August 2016

Solomon Islands Holidays and Festivals

Solomon Islands holidays and festivals revolve around two main features – religion and culture. Throughout the calendar year, visitors will see some familiar celebrations, including Easter. However, there are plenty of fascinating festivals that highlight the cultural importance of the Solomon Islands' long history, such as the Spear Dancing Festival in Santa Catalina.

Easter Celebrations

Easter is an important celebration in most areas of the Solomon Islands, especially in larger cities when Christianity is practiced by the majority of the population. Honiara usually hosts a fun run during this day, and going to Mass is a wonderful way to get involved with the people.

Independence Day

This is one of the most important days of the year for locals. Independence Day in the Solomon Islands occurs on July 7 each year. Basically, thousands of natives flock to the capital city, Honiara. Here, a range of parades, performances and celebrations are held. Tourists will need to book a hotel in advance if they are going to travel to the capital during Independence Day celebrations.

Festival of Pacific Arts

Held every four year, the Festival of Pacific Arts is hosted by a different Pacific country each time. The Solomon Islands hosted this festival in July 2012. The event highlights the best of the Pacific's many cultures and the unique arts that stem from these. Auki, Gizo, and Honiara are the main hosts.

Spear Dancing Festival

Tourists should head to Santa Catalina in the month of May, as this is when the Spear Dancing Festival is held annually. Spear dancing is an important cultural feature for natives from the Solomon Islands. The event is one of the more exciting cultural displays experienced throughout the year.

Honiara Marathon

In the month of September, Honiara will host a popular marathon. The event is organized by the local government, but is sponsored by the country's only national carrier, Solomon Airlines. Many runners from all over the Pacific come to the capital for this run.

Lagoon Festival

Held in the month of October, the Lagoon Festival is a spectacular event which sees traditional canoe races and a host of other competitions take place. There is an open water swim, and the Tie Va Rani Triathlon is held too.

Christmas

On the 25 December, Christmas brings much joy to the people of the Solomon Islands. Most locals will move back to their home towns outside of Honiara, or visit relatives who live in the rural areas. Honiara becomes quiet for a few days. Nevertheless, churches and community halls usually hold an event or gathering on Christmas, so tourists shouldn't feel left out.

New Year's Eve

Most of the celebrations for New Year are around Honiara. However, the resorts around the country, especially beach resorts, generally organize something for tourists. If visitors find themselves along Mendana Avenue in Honiara, they should keep an eye on personal possessions, particularly when a crowd is around.

*culled from www.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 www.iexplore.com

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Cote D'Ivoire 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 www.iexplore.com

Cape Verde Holidays and Festivals

There always seems to be a Cape Verde holiday or festival going on. Whether it's a religious ceremony or an excuse to spend time drinking and dining with family and friends, festivals on the archipelago are always a colorful experience well worth checking out.
Carnival in February is a truly memorable time, while the Sao Joao celebration sees hundreds participate in processionals, folk dancing and street parties.

Cape Verde Carnival

February sees the most colorful and spectacular festival of the island's calendar and is one of the best times of the year to visit Cape Verde. No matter where you go, it is virtually impossible to escape the party and endless music in full swing. The most elaborate and hedonistic celebrations take place on the streets of Praia and Mindelo where everyone pulls out their fancy costumes and puts away their inhibitions. The dancing, drinking and debauchery goes on for days, with music, fireworks and huge parades.

Kriol Jazz Festival

Started in 2009, the Kriol Jazz Festival is held in the capital of Praia every April and attracts artists from around Cape Verde and abroad. The event promotes Cape Verde's rich musical heritage, which hails from Africa, the Caribbean and Europe. Performances are held at locations around the city and get the community moving to the music all weekend long.

The Festival of Sao Joao

A passionate affair which incorporates the country's traditional pastimes, bonfires are ignited to ward off evil spirits and bring fertility to the fields, while dancing, singing and street parties take place in San Antonio June 24th every year.

Cape Verde Independence Day

A raucous event which is celebrated on every island, Independence Day festivities are held July 5, commemorating the day the country gained its freedom from Portugal. Colorful celebrations complete with serious drinking the local favorite grogue and feasting are the norm and the fun carries through into the evening. It's a great time to visit and experience the pride and light-heartedness of the locals.

Sal Music Festival

Held for a weekend in September, the enjoyable Cape Verde music scene has evolved into an exciting and fast-growing event over the years, attracting local and international artists. A fusion of many different styles and influences, it's a great spectacle. Cape Verdean people from across the islands, as well as tourists head to Santa Maria Beach to pitch tents and setup camp for the weekend. When the sun goes down, bonfires are lit and the party rages through the night.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Libya Holidays and Festivals

Many of the Libya holidays and festivals focus on tradition, culture, Islamic holy days, and the anniversaries of important development in the country's history. Most of the events are based around Tuareg and Berber societies and are a real treat for visitors fascinated by the desert dwellers and their incredible history. Favorites include the Ghadarmes Festival and the newly-introduced Liberation Day, marking the fall of Gaddafi.

Acacus Festival

Held annually between December and January in Libya, this unique event takes place amongst the spectacular scenery of the Jebel Acucus basalt monoliths in the heart of the Sahara. Expect a variety of musical performances at sunset, breaking the stunning silence of the great desert and giving an iconic atmospheric experience.

Nalut Spring Festival

The March Nalut Spring Festival is another traditional celebration in Libya featuring local cultural events and performances including parades as well as nightly dance shows. The setting in the mountainous Jebel Nafusa region adds to the charm of this three-day event.

Zuwarah Awessu Festival

The hot summer season in beachside Zuwarah welcomes this August festival based on age-old pagan rites including ritual sea bathing for tribes and their animals. Once performed nude, the bathing portion of the ceremonies has been adjusted to suit the Islamic moral code and now features clothed swimming and sailing races as well as folk dances, music and traditional foods.

Eid el Fitr

Eid el Fitr is the three-day, fast-breaking festival held at the end of the holy month of Ramadan during which Muslims fast from sun-up to sundown. It's held according to the Islamic calendar, with the dates shifting between summer and autumn for the joyous, family and food-oriented celebration.

Ghadames Festival

The three-day Ghadames Festival takes place every October and is one of the best-loved Saharan celebrations of the Tuareg and Barber people living in Western Libya. Expect feasting, dancing, musical performances, horse and camel races and other traditional contests, with the heart of the old city turned into a vast market for newly-harvested dates.

Liberation Day

The newly started Liberation Day is held on October 23, the exact day in 2011 when the Libyan people broke free from the tyrannical rule of the Gaddafi family. It's a national holiday, marked in Tripoli and across the land with gatherings in Martyrs' Square and other city and town centers.

Islamic New Year

The Islamic New Year falls around November depending on the Islamic calendar and is widely celebrated as a national holiday. Visits to mosques and family time are highlights.

Ghat Festival

The dates of the three-day Ghat Festival alternate annually between November and December, but its setting in an ancient Tuareg oasis medina ensures an unrivalled cultural experience. Expect camel races, a huge outdoor market selling everything from crafts to livestock, music, dancing and feasting as highlights.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Comoros Holidays and Festivals

Festivals are often tied to religious observances, particularly Islamic celebrations that follow the lunar calendar. Comoros holidays include Independence Day and the anniversary of the death of President Said Mohamed Sheikh. Comorians observe two new years, the first which marks the start of the year, and the second, which follows the Islamic calendar. Traditional celebrations often involve music, dancing and cultural performances.

New Year

Both New Year's Days (January 1st and the Islamic New Year) are celebrated with much gusto in the Comoros. The Islamic New Year is of particular interest as it is marked by a wide range of activities that embrace the local culture and traditions, including religious rituals.

Independence Day

Comorian independence is celebrated every July 6 to commemorate the nation's freedom from colonialism. Like other events on the islands, the festivities are marked with good food, cultural presentations and merriment.

Eid al-Adha

Eid al-Adha or the Feast of the Sacrifice is a celebration of Abraham's willingness to give up his son (Ishmael) in obedience to God. It is an annual Islamic holiday observed by Muslims around the world and Comoros is no exception.

Eid al-Fitr

This feast marks the conclusion of the month-long fast (Ramadan) and is celebrated with all kinds of rituals, prayers, gifts, and lots of ceremonial food.

Christmas Day

Christmas Day is observed by the Roman Catholic minority living in the Comoros with festive gatherings of friends and families.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Monday, 22 August 2016

Niger Holidays and Festivals

Around 90 percent of Niger's population is Muslim, and this influences the ceremonies and festivals that are celebrated throughout the year. For example, Ramadan and the associated Eid al Fitr are important Islamic festivals observed in Niger. The rest of the population follows the Baha'i faith, and Christianity, although the larger festivals in Niger will reflect traditional, indigenous beliefs, such as the Cure Salee (Festival of Nomads). Christian festivals are also observed as Niger holidays, such as Christmas and Easter.

Easter

Easter Monday is a national public holiday in Niger. Although Christians are a minority in the country, the government respects the beliefs of both Muslims and Christians since both holidays are observed nationally. Easter is usually April or May, according to the Christian Calendar.

Nigerien Independence Day

Celebrated on August 3 annually, this public holiday commemorates the country's independence from France in 1960. Since 1975 it has also been conjointly celebrated as Arbor Day, where citizens are encouraged to plant a tree to celebrate their young country's nascence, but also to combat desertification, which is a concerning environmental problem the country faces.

Cure Salee

This is the largest traditional festival celebrated in Niger, where the Tuareg and Wodaabe people from the north gather in the town of Ingall to celebrate the end of the rainy season. It usually occurs on the last weekend of September, just as the rains are ceasing. Cure Salee translates as 'Salt Cure' from French (the official language of Niger). The clans gather at the salt flats and pools to refresh their cattle and goats in preparation for the dry season ahead of them. It is also a time of traditional courtship, and many weddings are held during this time. The government has been sponsoring this centuries-old tradition and now heralds it as a major tourist attraction.

Eid al Fitr

This is a Muslim festival held at the end of the 30-day Ramadan fast. Ramadan is usually held between September and November, according to the Islamic calendar. The most notable gathering for the Eid al Fitr festival is the horseman show and carnival at the Sultan's Palace, in the desert city of Zinder.

Tabaski

Also known as Eid al Adha, this is an Islamic festival commemorating Abraham's sacrifice. At this time the locals feast on goat or lamb in remembrance, and it is considered an important family festival in Niger. It usually occurs in December or January according to the Islamic calendar.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Burkina Faso Holidays and Festivals

Arts and folklore are the main elements of Burkina Faso's culture. The southwest region in particular is known for its myths and legends. In Ougadougou, a classic drama known as Nabayius Gou (translated to "empire goes to war") is shown every Friday. Music, dance, food, and other events are held throughout the year, along with different religious celebrations for the Muslim and Christian communities.
Festivals dates change regularly, and some only happen once every two years. Religious groups also follow their own calendars. Whatever date these fall under, they are definitely worth the experience not only for their delicious fare and beer, but because of the uniqueness of Burikina Faso holidays and traditions.

Tabaski Festival

In addition to Ramadan and the Feast of Eid al Ftir, Muslims of Burkina Faso also celebrate the Tabaski Festival, which involves sacrificing a ram. Traditionally, fathers of the house are tasked to purchase, slaughter and prepare the animal, while the women cook rice and sweet drinks. The date is dictated by the lunar calendar.

Festival International de la Culture Hip Hop

Otherwise known as Waga Hip Hop, this annual festival is one of the biggest of its kind in West Africa. This celebration of urban cultures is usually held in mid-October, attracting thousands of international artists and media. In addition to hip hop, the festival also celebrates beat-boxing and other forms of vocal tunes not only in Ouagadouga, but in other cities such as Bobo-Dioulasso, Koudougou, Fada N'Gourma, and Pô.

Festival Jazz

Held in Ouagadougou and Bobo, the Jazz Festival of Burkina Faso features some of the biggest names in music on the continent. It is marked by performances from established names, as well as rising stars.

Festival des Masques et des Artes

FESTIMA or the Festival of Arts and Masks feature inspiring performances from different masked dance troupes hailing from West Africa. The main objective of this biennial event is to protect and promote the rich tradition of mask-making in Burkina Faso.

Festival Panafricain du Cinema

Held in various countries throughout Africa, FESPACO or the Panafrican Film Festival celebrates film and filmmakers screening their best work and builds stronger connections and relationships between industry professionals. FESPACO attracts participants from all over Africa and beyond. The top prize is the prestigious Etalon de Yennenga award, which honors the best national film to showcase "Africa's realities."

Semaine National de la Culture

Also known as National Culture Week of Burkina Faso, this festival is the most widely celebrated cultural event in the country. It alternates with the Panafrican Film Festival and features a wide range of spectacles including trade fairs.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Saturday, 20 August 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 www.iexplore.com

Friday, 19 August 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 www.iexplore.com

Thursday, 18 August 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 www.iexplore.com

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Botswana Holidays and Festivals

Botswana's traditional village festivals were held in the same manner for hundreds of years until the country achieved independence. During the following decades, many of the smaller celebrations were combined to make more modern events, and now draw thousands of tourists to the fascinating indigenous displays of African music and dance. Two of the favorite offerings are Gaborone's Maitisong Festival and the Maun Festival.

New Year's Day

As in the rest of the world, the arrival of each new year is a Botswana holiday celebrated with street parties, dances, traditional music, and inordinate amounts of food and drink. New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are great times to celebrate another year of life.

World Wetlands Day

This February event is popular across the country for its focus on environmental, conservation and tree-planting, as well as a Wetlands March. There's great concern in Botswana over the protection of its wildlife and unique environment.

Maitisong Festival

Gaborone's major festival takes place in March, and is a performing arts cornucopia of traditional music, dance and theater held all over the city and its suburbs. The event lasts for nine full days and sees the entire population take to the streets in carnival mode.

Maun Festival

Traditional poetry, music and dance are the hallmarks of the Maun Festival, held over a two-day period in April. The visual arts also have their place in this celebration, which is held for the benefit of local schools, as well as honoring northwestern Botswana's rich tribal culture.

Tjilenje Cultural Festival

This festival takes place in May and is held in Botswana's northeastern regional town of Nlapkhwane. Totally traditional, the event involves ancient games, dances and stalls crammed with local food and drink.

Toyota 1000 Desert Race

A must-see for fans of off-road motor sport races, this thrilling annual June event involves quads, bikes and cars, with 25 spectator areas set around the country.

President's Day

Botswana's President's Day in July is a four-day national holiday across the country and sees inhabitants returning to their home villages for celebrations including speeches, traditional dance and singing.

Kuru Dance Festival

This unique event takes place every August on the only Bushman-owned game farm in Botswana. The Dqae Game Farm lies in the Kalahari Desert close to D'Kar and comes alive with traditional dance and music for three days.

Botswana Day

The Batswana are proud of the advances their country has made since independence, happily hitting the streets in celebration every year on September 30. Traditional events, street parties and parades are the order of this important day.

Festive Season

Most Batswana follow the Christian religion, and Christmas is a great time to visit as it's a major holiday here. Seasonal events take place across the region and local choirs sing their hearts out in iconic African style at carol concerts. Western-style restaurants and pubs offer Christmas dinners and everyone gets together to celebrate.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Tuesday, 16 August 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 www.iexplore.com

Monday, 15 August 2016

Chad Holidays and Festivals

There are 12 main Chad holidays, most religious in nature. Political events such as Independence Day and the Proclamation of the Republic are particularly festive, complete with parades and sports.

New Year's Day

January 1 is a national holiday in Chad. The New Year's Day celebration typically involves fun, food and festivities. All offices and shops are closed.

National Day

National Day is held every April 13 and is celebrated to honor Chad's independence.

Labor Day

Like many other countries in the world, Chad celebrates Labor Day on May 1. Government offices and private businesses are closed.

Liberation of Africa

May 25 is the celebration of Africa's liberation from colonial Europe. It is observed in other countries like the UK, US, Tanzania, Spain, Kenya, and Ghana. There are plenty of street marches, school lectures and artistic rallies.

Independence Day

Chad's Independence Day is celebrated annually on August 11. This public holiday commemorates the country's freedom from France. Sports and political assemblies are common and delegates from around the world visit at this time.

Muslim Events

The Feast of the Sacrifice, Ramadan, and Eid-al-Fitr are among the notable Muslim holidays in Chad. These religious events are celebrated by Muslim communities across the nation and honored by other Chadians. The dates vary with 2012's festivities in August, but the traditions remain the same. During the holy month, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. The End of Ramadan (Eid-al-Fitr) is celebrated with prayer, festivals and food.

Proclamation of the Republic

Chad remembers the declaration of its republic status every year on November 28. This day is all about fun and festivities, regardless of your religion. Some local communities organize political assemblies and sporting events.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Algeria, Dakhla Refugee Camp

The annual Western Sahara International Film Festival (FiSahara) brings entertainment, culture and hope to the Western Sahara´s refugees, who have lived in exile for over three decades. The festival takes place every year in the Sahrawi refugee camps in Southwestern Algeria. FiSahara's activities include film screenings, audiovisual workshops, a traditional Sahrawi cultural fair, a camel race, concerts, a soccer match, roundtables and numerous other cultural activities.

The festival is held in the Dakhla camp and lasts about five days. It holds day and night time film screenings for all audiences, as well as roundtables and filmmaking workshops. It also includes parallel cultural activities such as concerts, a cultural festival and children's activities.

Visitors to the festival include international filmmakers, writers and musicians, journalists and people interested in the refugees' plight. In addition, visitors to the camps stay with Sahrawi families and visit the camp's clinics, schools and municipal offices.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Democratic Republic of the Congo Holidays and Festivals

The Democratic Republic of the Congo holidays include the usuals – New Year's Day, Labor Day and Christmas – plus local events commemorating heroes and significant dates in history.

Commemoration of the Martyrs of Independence

This annual celebration is held every January 4th. Also known as Martyr's Day, the Commemoration of the Martyrs of Independence is held as a double event to remember the victims of violence against human rights and also the martyrs of justice.

National Heroes' Day

Referred to as "Heroes' Day," this public holiday is celebrated annually on January 17. It commemorates the death of Patrice Lumumba, the Congo's popular leader. It is one of the two festivals that commemorate Lumumba's fight for human dignity in the region.

National Liberation Day

The Congo observes National Liberation Day every year on May 17. This is a public holiday, so all offices and most businesses are closed. It pays tribute to the efforts of the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo rebel group who fought the government during the second war. MLC was led by Jean-Pierre Bemba, the son of Bemba Saolona, a Congolese billionaire. Street parades and cultural shows are held.

Independence Day

Independence Day is celebrated every June 30.

Parents' Day

The world observes Parents' Day every August 1, but in the Congo, it is considered a public holiday. Locals are enthusiastic about giving greeting cards and gifts to their family.

Youth Day

The Congo celebrates Youth Day on October 14. During this national day, different organizations host sporting events and other festivities for young people.

Army Day

An observed as a national holiday, the country honors its military forces every November 17.

Christmas

Unlike most Western countries, the Congo treats Christmas as a religious festival. It is less commercialized, so presents are uncommon. On Christmas Eve, churches stage musicals with at least five to six choir performances and nativity plays. Some communities enjoy festivities until dawn when Christmas Day services start at 9:00 a.m. Families typically prepare a feast at home, and for those who can afford it, pork and chicken are staples.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Lesotho Holidays and Festivals

Lesotho holidays are centered around Christianity and the rich heritage and culture of the country. There are also celebrations of independence, and events linked to the troubled times leading up to the political stability of the present day. The two favorites in all Basotho are the Morija Arts and Cultural Festival and King Moshoeshoe I's Day.

Moshoeshoe's Day

On March 11, Bosotho people get together in celebration of the life and reign of Moshoeshoe the Great, Lesotho's first king who died in 1870. A great leader and talented diplomat, the king was responsible for the preservation of much of the cultural heritage still thriving today, as well as the establishment of Christianity through his welcoming of European missionaries.

Family Day

Family Day in early March is a celebration of one of the pillars of the country's culture. Family get-togethers involve workers returning to their villages for the day to eat, drink and have a great time.

Easter

Easter week, usually in April, is the year's most important religious festival, with all the usual parades, church attendances and family get-togethers. Most Basotho take their Christianity very seriously, with Easter Sunday a day of pure joy.
Morija Arts and Cultural Festival
The favorite event in Lesotho, the Arts and Cultural Festival, is held every September or October for five days in and around the capital. It is a feast of theater, poetry, dance, music, song, crafts, art exhibits, and everything in between. The festival showcases performances of jazz, modern music, African movies, and much more, and draws tens of thousands of visitors.

Independence Day

Independence Day, which falls on October 4, celebrates the country's release from British colonialism and its emergence as a free state. The day is a national holiday, celebrated all over the little country with traditional events, costumes, songs, dance, and musical performances. The city streets and villages come alive with revelers, while the Lesotho Royal Family greets foreign diplomats and important visitors from other African countries.

Lesotho Jazz Festival

The Lesotho Jazz festival takes place in the capital every December, attracting musicians from other southern nations as well as from all over Lesotho. Jazz is popular all over Africa, with this event focusing on music as an integral part of social development. Set in the heart of the tourist season, the event draws spectators from many countries.

Christmas

Almost all Basotho are Christians, with the faith's religious holidays celebrated in true African fashion with church services, family gatherings and the glorious full-voiced African harmonies used in full effect in a capella Christmas hymns. Midnight mass on Christmas Eve is a not-to-be-missed experience.

New Year

The welcoming of the New Year takes place with typical African enthusiasm, involving street celebrations, fireworks at midnight and parties all over town.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Wednesday, 10 August 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 www.iexplore.com

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Mozambique Holidays and Festivals

Compared to many other African nations, Mozambique holidays and festivals are minimal, although new tourist-focused events are being introduced every year. Maputo is the hub for art exhibitions, music fests and local gatherings, with the Kulungwana Espaco Artistico and the Centro Cultural Franco Mocambicao worth checking out. New Year and Independence Day are everyone's favorite excuse for a party.

New Year

One of the most-loved festivals in Mozambique is New Year's Eve, welcomed with sparkling lights, decorated buildings, street parties, and fireworks at midnight. It's a great time to be here, with everyone joining in the fun.

International Labor Day

International Labor Day, a national holiday celebrated around the world and across Mozambique takes place on May 1 with marches, parades and a great deal of enthusiasm.

AZGO Festival

This annual open-air music festival is held in Maputo over three days in May, bringing together local and international bands performing for a number of attendees. Workshops, musical documentaries and craft and fashion shows take place against a background of street food and drink stalls.

STRAB Festival

The popular Subterranean Rhythm and Blues festival kicks off in Ponta Malongane along the border with South Africa every May, having grown from humble beginnings as a birthday bash eight years ago to a huge event featuring 20 live bands. Rock and roll, blues and fusions of the two are a highlight of the three-day event. Love, harmony, respect and a great beach party the day before kicks off the celebration.

Independence Day

Celebrated in Mozambique on June 25, Independence Day is the favorite of all national festivals. Maputo stages a fabulous concert at the stadium featuring celebrated Mozambican bands and cultural events involving the visual arts, music, dance and the iconic traditional poetry common to all African countries take place all over the country during the preceding week.

Tambo International Art Festival

July sees Pemba's Tambo International Art Festival celebrate cultural diversity through a raft of music, dance and theater performances and art exhibitions. The Mozambique event lasts for a week and includes workshops for visitors as well as locals given by Pemba's traditional craftsmen, women and international artists.

Chopi Music Festival

Held in Inhambane Province's town of Quissico, this unique festival kicks off the end of July and continues into August with concerts of traditional, local Chopi music recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural property. Groups of players of the mbila (a form of xylophone) drums, rattles, pan pipes, and animal-horn trumpets give concerts to preserve the unique musical form.

Christmas

The festive season in Mozambique is enjoyed by both Christians and those of other faiths with concerts, parties, music, and songs at large family get-togethers. The Catholic churches hold midnight masses and choirs fill the air with carols rich in glorious a-capella African harmonies.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Monday, 8 August 2016

Rwanda Holidays and Festivals

Most of the Rwanda holidays and festivals are focused on the country's rich culture and the arts. From events which celebrate the long standing culture of visual art, like the Hillywood Film Festival to those using theater as a vehicle of social change like the Centre X Centre Festival, there is something for every artistic taste.

The Rwanda Mini Film Festival

Held annually in March the Rwanda Mini Film Festival allows amateur film makers from around Rwanda to showcase their talents. Entry is open to everyone, including students, professors, novices and established filmmakers, who are shown in several different categories. The festival takes place in many different venues across Kigali so interested travelers will have to keep an eye out for schedules closer to the time. The event is a great one to attend as the short films tend to highlight issues of people on the ground and provide great insight into the country.

Gorilla Naming Ceremony

An interesting festival worth attending, the Gorilla Naming Ceremony is held every June in Kiningi. This ceremony is influenced by a similar one for humans during which all members of the local Rwanda community recommend names for a newborn child. In this version, it is the park guides who do the suggesting and ultimately choose the names of all the newly born gorillas. The ceremony is characterized by great displays of music and traditional dance and travelers who attend the festival can even choose to sponsor a gorilla if they like.

Hillywood Film Festival

Another popular film festival, Hillywood is aimed at showcasing Rwanda's budding film industry in the hope that it will one day rival a similar industry in Nigeria. Held every July, the festival highlights the talents of filmmakers from across the African continent. There are several activities including screenings, workshops and discussions on the films by their directors and actors. Anyone interested in learning more about local culture, or simply looking to catch a good film, should make a point of attending.

Centre X Centre Festival

Newly renamed, the Centre X Centre Festival is an annual celebration of Rwandan theater which takes place every August in Kigali. Every year the festival has a theme which is generally related to the ideas of Arts and Peace. The messages of most pieces stem from the effects of the Rwandan genocide and are quite powerful. It is the hope that the theater festival not only forms the ground for critical discussion but is also a process of healing.

KigaliUp! Rwandan Music Festival

September marks the arrival of the lively outdoor music festival in Kigali. The event aims to bring together local artists from several different genres including traditional folk music, R&B and Rwandan Pop. There are also many international stars who grace the stage every year. The aim is to cross genre divides to create a community of artists who collaborate to make the county's music industry even stronger than it already is.

Festival Arts Azimuts (FAAZ)

Rounding off Rwanda's festival calendar is the Festival Arts Azimuts in October. A feast of the arts, FAAZ brings together dancers, musicians, theater makers and visual artists from both Rwanda and abroad. There are also many renowned speakers who are invited to give talks to inspire the values of love, hope and faith in the festival goers.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Traditional Marriage System in Yoruba Culture, Nigeria

Marriage is seen as an important culture among the Yoruba people. A woman who is single at a marriageable age is seen as a crownless woman. Husbands are seen as crowns and a single lady is seen as incomplete without her crown. Another reason why marriage is seen as an essential practice is because Nigerians love and cherish children. Mothers are fond of pestering their children (bachelors and spinsters) to get married so that they can see their grand-children before going to their graves.
After the selection of mate, both of them will visit their parents' house for consent to continue the relationship and proceed with the marriage rites. The traditional marriage system is divided into two sections: Introduction and the Engagement Ceremony.

1. The Introduction

This is the first marriage rite where the parents of the groom-to-be meet the parents of the bride-to-be. The meeting place is usually the in the partner house of the bride (bride's father's or kinsmen' house). Introduction is informal as the groom's family members come with bottles of wine, palm wine and few tubers of yam. On the other hand, the bride's family serves their guests with foods and drinks. After the parents' agreement, a date will be chosen for the engagement and the wedding ceremonies. In most cases, the date selection is done by the bride's family members but in some situations, the couple chooses the date convenient for them.

Couples or parents do consult their oracle or religious leaders before they pick the D-day so as to know if the day is free from danger or safe. In the Yoruba culture, the date picked is always dedicated and consecrated so as to avert evil or the plans of the wicked ones. The prospective couples are advised to stay where they are and not to travel when the marriage ceremony is near. Friends and family members travel and go around in preparation of the ceremony instead of the couple.

2. The Engagement

The engagement ceremony is the most crucial and recognized part of the marriage rites. They call this "idana" where the bride's family gives out their daughter to the groom's family. Both families are also married to each other through the union of the children. This ceremony takes place at the bride's house. The bride's father or the oldest kinsmen (if the father is dead) have the sole responsibility of handling over the bride to the groom.

There is always one or two women that coordinate the ceremony. They are known as the 'Alaga Ijoko' or "Olopa ijoko". These women make sure all the engagement items are complete, they sanction anyone who violates rules (especially the groom). The groom enters the venue in company of his friends and prostrate many times depending on the instructions of the 'Alaga Ijoko'. There is also the presence of the "Alaga Iduro" or "Olopa Iduro", which is from the groom' side. She has the responsibilities of assisting the groom, his friends and family members beg the bride's family for their permission to give out their daughter. Both the Alagas are familiar with the tradition and they know what to do.

A letter, which is written by the groom's family is being read by a young lady from the groom's side asking for the bride's hand in marriage. The letter is being replied to through another letter written by the bride's family accepting the proposal. This letter is also read by a young girl from the bride's family.

Bride price is been given in form of money in an envelope from the elders to the brides' family members which is always returned indicating that they are not selling their daughter but giving her away. The engagement items include tubers of yam, kolanuts, bitter cola, alligator pepper, bottles of honey, dry fish, suitcase that is filled with clothes, bag of salt, bag of rice, vegetable oil, bag or cartons of sugar, sugar cane, palm wine, plate of "aadun", pairs of shoes and bags, scarf, wine, juice, umbrella, Holy Book (Bible or Qu'ran). The quantity of these items varies according to clans and family in Yoruba land. The couple are being prayed for and joined by their parents and joined as husband and wife.

*culled from www.informationparlour.com

Friday, 5 August 2016

Ethiopia Holidays and Festivals

The Ethiopian holidays celebrate the country's rich traditions. Cultural affairs and sporting events abound throughout the year, the biggest of which are held in the thriving capital city of Addis Ababa. Dance and musical performances are a common theme of traditional events, along with art and religion.

Genna

Genna Festival celebrates the Ethiopian Christmas. It falls on January 7 each year (according to the Julian calendar) when night-long church services are held followed by fun fellowships with townsfolk.

Timkat-Feast

The Timkat Feast is a three-day festival on January 19 that celebrates the baptism of Christ on theJordan River. Beautifully decorated tabots (tablets onto which the Ten Commandments are enscribed) that represent the Ark of the Covenant are paraded around the city.

All Ethiopian Games

This huge sporting event is held every four years in March to celebrate athletes from all over the country. The competition last a week, enhanced by all kinds of cultural and traditional performances, making the games among the most popular events in Ethiopia.

Addis International Film Festival

This acclaimed film festival features both international and local movies, documentaries and shorts. It celebrates the growing African motion picture industry from May 14 through 19.

Tensae Cycle Race

An annual Easter race, athletes from all over the world come to compete and watch as cyclists complete 22 laps around the Addis Ababa Stadium.

Ethiopian Film and Music Festival

Two festivals in May that bring Ethiopia's culture centerstage, you can expect outdoor film screenings, as well as a series of musical events and concerts that celebrate the wide variety of genres and styles that have emerged in the country.

Ramadan

While Ethiopia is a predominantly Christian country, it is home to a Muslim minority. Ramadan is closely observed in eastern areas, as well as in the town of Harar. The exact dates vary depending on the Islamic calendar.

Enkutatash

Ethiopians still use the Julian calendar, which is why their New Year falls on September 11. This day overlaps with the end of the rainy season and is celebrated with all kinds of merriment, gift exchanges, flowers, and cards.

Meskal

The Meskal Festival is celebrated on September 27 with floral processions and the burning of torches. It commemorates the discovery of the True Cross, part of which is preserved at the Gishen Marien Monastery.

Irecha

This September pilgrimage event is held around Lake Hora. The Oromo tribes visit yearly to perform different religious rites and ceremonies.

Festival St. Aregawi

A biannual celebration, the dates change yearly for devotees to take a pilgrimage to the sacred Debra Damo Monastery.

The Great Ethiopian Run

One of the most outstanding races in Ethiopia, this late November event attracts thousands of runners and athletes to compete on a 6.25 mile track.

Kullubi

Celebrations of Kullubi, or the Feast of St. Gabriel, are marked by a long procession on December 28. Participants typically depart from St. Gabriel Church and parade around Addis Ababa.

Arba Minch Festival of Music and Dance

This December musical and dance event is celebrated in the southern regions of Ethiopia. It showcases the distinct local culture and rich African traditions.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Major Festivals and Traditions In Brazil

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 www.traveltrips.usatoday.com

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Indian Festivals

India is known to be the country of festivals. Every month of the calendar holds a festival that one can enjoy in India. Being a secular country it houses more than four religions. Every religion has its own set of festivals that the entire nation celebrates. Each festival has its own signature style of celebration. All festivals are unique in their own sense. The traditions and celebrations of the same festival also vary from one region to another. The festivals have a significant story or history behind it. This story is the key reason to all the rituals and customs that are performed for them. This is the reason for the amount of importance given to the rituals and customs. However, the spirit of festivity remains the same among Indians through all of them. It is not just in India that these festivals are celebrated; Indians abroad have not forgotten their roots and culture and celebrate each of the festival with immense fervor. Today, round the globe wherever there are Indians, these festivities are enjoyed!
Being a highly spiritual country, festivals are at the heart of people's lives in India. The numerous and varied festivals that are held throughout the year offer a unique way of seeing Indian culture at its best. The following popular festivals in India will provide you with a truly memorable experience.

1.Diwali

Diwali is a five day festival that represents the start of the Hindu New Year. It's known as the "Festival of Lights" for all the fireworks, small clay lamps, and candles that are lit during the celebrations. These lights are said to represent the victory of good over evil, and brightness over darkness. The candlelight makes Diwali a very warm and atmospheric festival, and it's observed with much joy and happiness.

2.Ganesh Chaturthi

The spectacular eleven day Ganesh Chaturthi festival honors the birth of the beloved Hindu elephant-headed god, Lord Ganesha. The start of the festival sees huge, elaborately crafted statutes of Ganesha installed in homes and podiums, which have been especially constructed and beautifully decorated. At the end of the festival, the statutes are paraded through the streets, accompanied by much singing and dancing, and then submerged in the ocean.

3.Holi

Holi is a two day festival that also celebrates the victory of good over evil, as well as the abundance of the spring harvest season. It's commonly referred to as the "Festival of Colors". People exuberantly throw colored powder and water all over each other, have parties, and dance under water sprinklers. Bhang (a paste made from cannabis plants) is also traditionally consumed during the celebrations. Holi is a very carefree festival that's great fun to participate in if you don't mind getting wet and dirty.

4. Navaratri, Dussehra, and Durga Puja

The first nine days of this festival are known as Navaratri, and are filled with dance in honor of the Mother Goddess. The tenth day, called Dussehra, is devoted to celebrating the defeat of the demon king Ravana by Lord Rama. It also coincides with the victory of the revered warrior Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura.
In eastern India, the festival is observed as Durga Puja. Huge statues of the Goddess are made and immersed in the holy Ganges River. The festival is an extremely social and theatrical event, with drama, dance, and cultural performances held throughout the country.

5. Krishna Janmashtami/Govinda

Krishna Janmashtami, also known as Govinda, commemorates the birthday of Lord Krishna. An extremely fun part of the festival involves people climbing on each other and forming a human pyramid to try and reach and break open clay pots filled with curd, which have been strung up high from buildings.

6. Kerala Temple Festivals

The south Indian state of Kerala is filled with temples that are renowned for their exotic temple festivals. The large processions of elephants, resplendent in ornaments, are the main attractions of these festivals. The processions are accompanied by colorful floats, drummers and other musicians.

7. Onam

Onam is a traditional ten day harvest festival that marks the homecoming of the mythical King Mahabali. It's a festival rich in culture and heritage. People strikingly decorate the ground in front of their houses with flowers arranged in beautiful patterns to welcome the King. The festival is also celebrated with new clothes, feasts served on banana leaves, dancing, sports, games, and snake boat races.

8. Pushkar Camel Fair

An astonishing 50,000 camels converge on the tiny desert town of Pushkar, in India's state of Rajasthan for the Pushkar Camel Fair. For five days, the camels are dressed up, paraded, shaved, entered into beauty contests, raced, and of course traded. It's a great opportunity to witness an old, traditional style Indian festival.

*culled from www.loginmytrip.com

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Muju Firefly Festival In South Korea

Taking place from August 29th to September 6th in Korea, the Muju Festival is organised to celebrate the beauty of fireflies and to raise awareness among people about recent environmental issues. As Muju is located in the country side, it boasts beautiful mountains and pristine valleys which citizens try to maintain clean in order to protect the glowing insects.

Taking place at the habitat for fireflies, the festival features beautiful illuminations, fireworks and cute lanterns or hands-on activities such as environmental exploration during which visitors will be able to witness the fireflies in their natural habitat. Festival-goers can also try to catch trouts with their bare hands at the water stream, or attend several of the numerous cultural events such as dance troupes or martial arts performances.

Thanks to its natural environment, Muju is a really nice place to go hiking in the beautiful mountains and valleys. So if you're going there, do not miss it!

How to get there: Take an intercity bus from Seoul Nambu Bus Terminal (subway line 3) to Muju Intercity Bus Terminal.

*culled from www.onedaykorea.com

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