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FESTIVALS IN ZANZIBAR - Discover the best Events in Zanzibar Island

FESTIVALS IN ZANZIBAR
Zanzibar's Festivals & Celebrations

Sauti Za Busara - Mid February

Sauti za Busara, East Africa’s No. 1 festival brings people together in celebration of the richness and variety of African music. The 10th edition takes place Stone Town, Zanzibar during 14 - 17 February 2013. Centred within the ancient walls of The Old Fort, the main stage hosts three nights of non-stop live music, with the main programme continuing Friday ‘til Sunday with performances from 5pm until 1am.

Celebrating ten years, the 2013 edition includes Best of the Best, including audience favourites of past years. An open air cinema in the adjacent amphitheatre screens music films from the African Continent and diaspora. Meanwhile throughout town, Zanzibar plays host to a variety of fringe events, aka Busara Xtra.

The Dhow Countries - July

The Festival of the Dhow Countries is now the largest annual cultural event in East Africa, and among the eight major festivals in sub-Saharan Africa. It is scheduled annually around the first two weeks in July. The festival celebrates the arts and cultures of the African Continent, India, Pakistan, Gulf States, Iran and the Indian Ocean islands. It features an international film and video competition, music, theatre and performing arts, workshops, seminars, conferences and other related arts and cultural programmes.

The festival programme is centred in a variety of magnificent venues near the seafront in the historic Stone Town; with a Village Panorama that extends the festival to rural communities; Women’s Panorama, which provides a focus for women’s issues; Children’s Panorama, which provides for the participation of children and youths.

Eid Al Fitr - End Of Ramadhan

Eid-ul-Fitr is the festival at the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. Also known as Eid or Sikukuu (days of celebration, festival or holiday), this festival is a time of giving charity. The fasting of Ramadan is meant to remind people what life is like for their less fortunate brethren and the alms giving at Eid (known as zakat-el-Fitr) is a continuation along the same idea. Both fasting and the giving of alms are two of the five pillars of the Islamic faith. Because the Islamic calendar is different from that of Christians, the dates for Ramadan and Eid change every year by about 10 days so check a local Islamic calendar if you’re looking to visit Zanzibar during Eid.

Ramadan is a holy month in which drinking, smoking, and eating during daylight hours for Muslims is prohibited. Dress codes should be strictly adhered to. Some restaurants are closed during this month and outside of town it can be difficult to get any food at all during daytime hours during Ramadan. All discos are closed during Ramadan.

Eid El Hajj - End Of Pilgrammage

Eid ul Hajj (also known as Eid-al-Adha or Eid al-Kabir) is the high point of the hajj season when many Muslims go on a pilgrimage to Mecca. The second celebratory feast of the Muslims is this feast of sacrifice, and Zanzibaris celebrate this three-day event with fervour. As the name implies, the importance of this festival lies in the sacrificing of certain animals as a commemoration of the prophet Ibraham (Abraham). Eid is a joyful experience and everybody is out and about celebrating. In Zanzibar the partying continues for four solid days, with many open areas around town and in the villages turning into festival venues.

There is a general feeling of celebration as people go from house to house visiting friends and relatives and attend taarab concerts and discos at night. In town, the festivities can be seen at the Mnazi Moja grounds across from the National Museum or at the Kariakoo fair grounds out by the Main Post Office.

Mwaka Kogwa - End July

Mwaka Kogwa is celebrated in several villages around Zanzibar, but best observed in Makunduchi, on the southeastern coast. The colourful festival originates in Persia and celebrates the New Year according to the Shirazi calendar. Festivities are accompanied by ancient rites and rituals, such as symbolic fires and mock fights, which are believed to ensure peace and harmony for the village in the coming year. Men taking part in the fights, defend themselves with banana stems (in place of the traditional cudgels and clubs), while women stroll through the village dressed in their best clothes, taunting the men with songs about village life and love.

There is a general feeling of celebration as people go from house to house visiting friends and relatives and attend taarab concerts and discos at night. In town, the festivities can be seen at the Mnazi Moja grounds across from the National Museum or at the Kariakoo fair grounds out by the Main Post Office.

Jahazi Literary & Jazz Festival

You’re invited to a scintillating weekend of open-air jazz concerts, poetry readings, storytelling, great debate, cultural walks and talks, VIP dinners with the stars, and the very best after-parties in town! Join us for a long and lazy weekend of literary and jazz delights. Enjoy close encounters with some of the world’s most talented writers and musicians. Put your feet up, kick back, and enjoy island-life. You can even join this year’s hot debate - ‘The current global economic state, its origin and relevance to Africa, and where should we go from here?’ It is not to be missed!

Maru Maru’s fabulous rooftop and Livingstone’s beachfront provide the ideal setting for festival-goers to enjoy open-air jazz concerts, while 236 Hurumzi Hotel, A Novel Idea bookstore and Maru Maru’s courtyard offer intimate settings for literary events. Dhow Countries Music Academy will once again kindly host to music workshops. 31 August - 2 September - Jahazi Literary & Jazz Festival.

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