#AfriTravel: Top festivals and events to plan around in 2019

2018-10-09 18:00 - Ethan Van Diemen
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africa, festivals, south africa, cape town, events

(Photo: iStock)

Africa may be renowned and loved for its richness in natural diversity, but the continent boasts a plethora of culture, man-made marvels and unique festivals that are all worth experiencing. With a vast cultural diversity and a climate largely favourable to major festivals and events, Africa is definitely one of the best locations to host and enjoy events.

Over the past weekend, the travel industry assembled at the Durban International Convention Centre for the World Travel Awards (WTA) Africa & Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony 2018, known as 'The Oscars' of the travel awards to find out who among them would be crowned best of the best. 

South Africa's Cape Town took home the gold medal as the winner of the title of Africa's Leading Festival & Event Destination 2018 and with annual events like the 2 Oceans Marathon, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival and Rocking the Daisies it is easy to see why.

SEE: From Big 7 to Big 6: Cape Town's top tourist attractions ready to usher in summer

Here are the rest of the nominees and some festivals and events worth looking into: 

Accra, Ghana

Homowo Festival - This harvest festival takes place in the capital city every year in May. Homowo starts with the planting of crops before the rainy season starts. It traces its origins to a story of a famine which was followed by a prosperous harvest which led to the naming of the period as 'homowo' which refers to the act ‘hooting at hunger’. There is folk singing, libation pouring and invocations said to the gods for another good season. 

Sabolai Festival - Every December, the streets of Accra are filled with the melodies of African indie music at the Sabolai festival. There’s the best of original music from the mainstream and alternative scene, the contemporary to traditional tableau, fusions and non-conventional and much more for people to enjoy. Find out more here

SEE: Ghana with the wind: Visit these two must-see Ghanaian sites

Durban, South Africa

Durban Fashion Fair - One of the leading fashion events on the continent, the Durban Fashion Fair is an attempt to position Durban as an international fashion capital. You can find more information on their Facebook page or their website

Durban July - South Africans are by now well-acquainted with this staple of the South African social calendar. The horse races have in recent times been overshadowed by celebrity, fashion and sparkling wine - but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Don't horse around, make sure to plan ahead and check out this major annual event. Find more information here

SEE: #AfriTravel: 3 Things to get up to in each of these 8 top African cities

Johannesburg, South Africa

Global Citizen Festival - Headlined by Beyoncé & JAY-Z, Cassper Nyovest, D'banj, Ed Sheeran, Eddie Vedder, Femi Kuti, Pharrell Williams & Chris Martin, Sho Madjozi, Tiwa Savage, Usher, and Wizkid this Free-ticketed concert is being held to celebrate the centenary year of Nelson Mandela, honouring his legacy in the fight to end extreme poverty. Find out more here.

Whisky and Spirits Live Festival - Whether you're the ‘just curious’ newcomer to whisky or the seasoned connoisseur, whisky-Lovers all over have something to look forward to at this year's annual Whisky and Spirits Live Festival. Held at the Sandton Convention Centre, the Whisky Live Festival is one of the largest consumer whisky shows in the world featuring more than 180 top brands. Follow this link for more information. 

Kigali, Rwanda

Rwanda Film Festival - For over a decade, the Rwanda Film Festival, better known as 'Hillywood', has during every July been bringing films from around Rwanda, the African continent and the world more generally to Kigali. The festival has film screenings as well as workshops and pop-up cinema events. Find out more here.

Kigali Fashion Week - Rwanda is not oft considered to be one of the style corners of the world but they sure are trying to change that perception. Contemporary Kigali is a cosmopolitan hotspot that has two annual fashion festivals where fashion-conscious locals and visitors mingle showing off cutting edge styles and fashions influenced by Rwanda and the west. Find out more about Kigali Fashion Week here and Rwanda Culture Fashion Week here.

SEE: Roaming Rwanda: Your Kigali checklist

Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech Marathon - The King himself has been a part of this marathon so you know its a big deal. Over 8000 athletes from around the world head on over to Marrakech annually for this fast-paced race around the medina ramparts and through the Palmeraie. Find more information here.  

Marrakech Popular Arts Festival - Beyond the prosaic entertainment of musicians and dancers, visitors to the Marrakech Popular Arts Festival can expect to see fortune-tellers, acting troupes, snake charmers and fire-swallowers. With the main events taking place in the ruins of 16th-century El Badi Palace and Djemma el Fna, this is an event you don't want to miss out on. Make sure to stick around after sunset to see the 'Fantasia', an after-dark spectacle held outside the city walls that features hundreds of charging horsemen robed in traditional dress. Find out more here.

WATCH: Meander through the magic of Marrakesh

Nairobi, Kenya

Pawa Festival - Hosted in December annually by PAWA254, this annual street festival is a rich visual feast with arts, performances and more keeping locals and visitors to Nairobi enthralled and inspired. 

Nairobi Film Festival - Following on the success of the previous year, the Nairobi Film Festival has gone from stride to stride and is well on its way to becoming a cultural fixture and highlight on the events calendar in Kenya. Showcasing local films and growing cinema culture throughout the city, this is definitely the place to enjoy some of the best African cinema has to offer. Find out more here

SEE: Quick Guide to Kenya: Visa-free travel for South Africans

Rabat, Morocco

Mawazine Festival - This festival is significantly more modern in its content and origin. Mawazine (Rhythms of the World) is a music festival that is spread over eight stages with performances by major international artists as well as local Moroccan musicians. Find out more here.

Wax Lantern (or Candle) Festival - This annual festival is lit - literally. The Wax Lantern Festival takes place in Sale close to Rabat. The festival sees processions of people carrying glowing lanterns about. The history of the event has its origins in the times when Corsairs carried lanterns to the Sidi Abdallah Ben Hassoun, in order to secure his protection in the town before a long voyage. Find out more here.

SEE: #AfriTravel: Which tourist attraction is Africa’s best?

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