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Top 8 December Festivals and Events in Africa


If you're planning to be in Africa in December there are plenty of exciting festivals and events going on. Christmas is of course celebrated throughout the continent by Christians (a little later in Ethiopia which follows the Coptic calendar) and New Years Eve is also much cause for celebration. You can enjoy a cultural festival in the Tunisian desert complete with camel racing or celebrate a harvest festival in Swaziland.

1. Cairo International Film Festival

The Middle East's most established and important film festival takes place at the end of November every year. Egypt's movies have great influence in the region and this year's entries will be eagerly awaited. Films from all over the world will be shown in various venues throughout the city.

Where: Cairo, Egypt
When: Postponed for 2013

2. Maasai Olympics

The final games resulting from many smaller games at the group ranch level will be held at Kimana. Warriors from four ranches will be participating in running, jumping, rungu throwing, javelin, etc. There will be grand prizes in each category including a breeding bull. The guest of honor will be David Rudisha, record-breaking winner of the 800 meters at this year's London Olympics. The games are a way to encourage the young men to compete and excel in ways that are compatible with conservation.

Where: Kimana, Amboseli region, Kenya
When: December, 2012/13

3. Thousand Stars Rift Valley Music Festival

Three wonderful days of music and dance from the heart of the Rift Valley in Ethiopia. More than 50 tribes come together to celebrate their culture and heritage in this colorful festival. Read a review from the Guardian.

Where: Arba Minch, Ethiopia
When: Annual (usually week before Christmas) August (2013)

4. Ncwala Festival

Also known as the "Festival of the First Fruits," Ncwala is Swaziland's biggest festival and one of Africa's most interesting. Ancestors are remembered, the first harvest is celebrated and above all, the King is honored. The two main celebrations are Little Ncwala and Big Ncwala. The exact timing of the festival is up to the king's astrologers but it starts in December.

Where: Swaziland
When: End of December (annual)

5. Christmas in Africa

There are approximately 350 million Christians in Africa. Christmas is celebrated throughout the continent by Christian communities large and small. On Christmas day carols are sung from the Congo on down to South Africa. More about Christmas in Africa...

Where: Throughout Africa
When: 24-25 December (annual)

6. International Festival of the Sahara, Douz, Tunisia

Attracting more than 50,000 people, this annual festival celebrating the culture of the Sahara desert is quite a spectacle. The festival takes place in the heart of the Tunisian Sahara in the small oasis town of Douz. Originally a bedouin marriage market, the festival is now a four day affar filled with singing, dancing, feastng and camel racing.

Where: Douz, Tunisia
When: 22-25 December (2013)

7. Cape Town Minstrel Carnival

It's summer in Cape Town and the New Year is celebrated in great raucous style in the form of a carnival. The parades are huge flamboyant affairs with grand costumes, wonderful marching bands, singing, dancing and more. Needless to say, few Capetonians make it to work on the 2nd of January.

Where: Cape Town, South Africa
When: 31 December - 2 January (2013/14)

8. New Year's Eve in Africa

New Year's Eve is celebrated in many communities across Africa. In most African cities, hotels and bars will be full of party goers celebrating the New Year. Every country in Africa enjoys a public holiday on January 1st, regardless if they celebrate their traditional New Year on that day.

Where: Throughout Africa
When: 31 December - 1 January (2013/14)

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