There were several planned events to welcome the millennium, which many of us in the West had been enjoying for the past 7.5 years. Find out what went on, check out available millennium tours and how to get to Ethiopia even if you missed the millennium celebrations.
Why Were Ethiopians Still Partying Like It Was 1999?Ethiopians follow an ancient Coptic calendar which runs about 7.5 years behind the Gregorian calendar (which most of you reading probably follow). (Hindu's are way ahead of the Ethiopians by a few thousand years, and are currently enjoying the year 5108. Those who follow the Jewish calendar are busy getting ready to celebrate the year 5768).
The Ethiopian calendar is made up of 12 months, each lasting 30 days, and then an extra month is tagged on lasting just 5 days (6 in a leap year). Most of the world's calendars are in fact based on an ancient Egyptian calendar so there are many similarities. Ethiopia is 7.5 years behind the Gregorian calendar because the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church didn't agree on the date of the creation of the world, so they started off from two different points many hundreds of years ago.
The Official Millennium CelebrationsEthiopia kick started their millennium celebrations in Addis Ababa with a huge cultural event on the night of Sept 11, in a specially built stadium. Over 20,000 people attended and musicians and media personalities from around the world were there inlcuding the US band, The Black Eyed Peas. All the proceeds from the event was earmarked for Ethiopian development aid projects.
Official celebrations took place in every region at various hotels and centers that could accommodate musicians and audiences. Churches throughout Ethiopia celebrated with psalms and prayers, and the evening ended with food and plenty of beer. Tourist hotels also put on special parties with local cultural entertainment.
Quick, Get me to EthiopiaMost people will arrive in Ethiopia by air at the Bole International Airport. Taxis are available as well as a regular minibuses and coaches to and from the city center. The airport lies 5 miles (8 km) southeast of the city center (Addis Ababa).
Ethiopian Airlines is one of Africa's best airlines with many destinations both regionally and overseas. Ethiopian has a direct flight to and from the US (Dulles International Airport in Washington DC). There's a brief stop in Rome for a change of crew, but passengers don't disembark.
Ethiopian Airlines also flies direct to London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Stockholm, Frankfurt, Rome, Paris, Dubai, Beirut, Bombay, Bangkok, Cairo, Nairobi, Accra, Lusaka and Johannesburg. The cheapest flights from Europe to Addis Ababa tend to be via Rome. Other European airlines that fly to Ethiopia include Lufthansa, KLM and British Mediterranean Airlines.
Emirates flies to Addis Ababa and you can connect via Dubai from all over the world, often for very reasonable prices.
If you are planning to fly within Ethiopia, there are discounts offered by Ethiopian Airlines if you use the national carrier on your long-haul flight as well. Call the airline directly with your itinerary to find out how much you can save.
If you're in the region already, see my tips on how to get to Ethiopia by land.
Visit Ethiopia and Enjoy Being 7 years YoungerIf you didn't get to Ethiopia in time to celebrate the millennium, but you'd still like to travel to Ethiopia -- you definitely should. Not only is the country filled with incredible historical, religious and cultural sights, but you can actually say you're 7 years younger than you really are. Here's some information to get help you plan your trip:
- Ethiopia Travel Tips
- Ethiopia Photos
- Omo River Tribes of Ethiopia
- More Ethiopia Travel Information ...