The wide variety of music, cultural, harvest, and religious festivals in Africa is almost as unique as the continent itself. Some of these festivals are well-known and attract travelers from around the world, but all offer a distinctive form of celebration that highlights the wide array of African cultures and customs.
1. International Camel Derby in Kenya:
In the Samburu district of Maralal, Kenya’s International Camel Derby lasts for three days in August. This derby invites professional and amateur camel jockeys to race and celebrate. Originally started to promote peace among the different local tribes, this festival has started to receive international attention. Now, people travel from all over the world to participate in the derby.
2. Homowo Festival in Ghana:
Homowo Festival is a harvest festival celebrated in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana by the Ga tribe. The event is one of rememberance—the tribe celebrates the end of a great famine that occurred in precolonial Ghana. The celebration begins with the sowing of millet in May, as a 30-day ban on drumming is imposed on the land by the priests—it’s believed that the noise might hinder the crops. Today, the festival includes face painting, parades, and even a bicycle race (pictured below). And though it is a Ga tradition, many groups are welcome to join in the celebration!
3. Fétes des Masques in Mali:
Every year in April and May, the Dogon tribal communities celebrate the Fétes des Masques. Members of the tribe wear masks—important symbols of Dogon culture—and perform dances to help recount the story of the origin of their tribe. Each dancer represents a different spirit and performs a dance, looking for evil spirits that might prevent the deceased from going to paradise. This festival takes place as a memorial to those who have passed away in the village and to celebrate the harvest.
4. The Festival of Roses in Morocco:
The Festival of Roses is held in Morocco in the small town of El-Kelaâ M’Gouna, famous for its vast landscape of pink Persian roses. It’s a three-day celebration filled with food, dancing, singing, and a carnival procession where the crowning of the Rose Queen (who will reign over the year’s crop) takes place. This festival attracts around 20,000 people every year!