Three brightest African Festivals


Authentic African art is unlike anything else. It reflects traditional beliefs, rituals, ways of life, and the eventful history of the continent.

Time does not stand still, the world is changing, and so is the culture of the region with it. Authentic motives blend with familiar music to create a new sound. And the African kizomba and kuduro dances are already dancing all over the world.

Festival au Désert, Mali

festival in the desert

The “Festival in the Desert” is a grand African event not only for Mali but also for the whole of North and North-West Africa because the main characters of the festival are the Tuaregs, the indigenous people of this region.

The Tuaregs are nomads. And they live on a fairly vast territory, which now includes several countries: Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Burkina Faso, Algeria, and Libya. In the distant past, when modern state borders did not divide the world into pieces, the Tuaregs living in different parts of the country met once a year in a place near the modern city of Timbuktu (Mali). At these annual meetings, which were called Tokubel, they had fun, shared news, discussed all the African events that have taken place during the year, and those to come, resolved conflicts, and found solutions to complex situations.

And so, after centuries, when even nomads had mobile phones, there was no need for such meetings. But the Tuaregs decided to preserve the tradition by modifying it. So appeared the “Festival in the Desert” – a holiday of peace, traditions, and culture. In its 15-year history, the festival has gone beyond the borders of Mali to become international.

The African celebration is held every year in early January right in the Sahara, near the legendary and mysterious Timbuktu. For a few days a stage grows in the middle of the sands, tents and tents appear, and a parking lot is formed. And all so that guests can get acquainted with the traditional music of the Tuaregs. Now, when the festival brings together both spectators and musicians from different countries, including Europe, the music program has expanded – now you can hear performers of various genres.

Music plays from the evening to the morning, and during the daytime, there are film screenings on the big stage. And if you don’t want to watch a movie, you can go to Timbuktu, which is filled with the sands of the Sahara every year with strong winds.

FESTIMA, Burkina Faso


Masks are an integral part of African culture. Weddings, funerals, harvesting – no ritual can do without them. In every country of the continent, every nation has its own “good” and “evil” masks, used for centuries in everyday life. The twenty-first century, with its technology, has invariably replaced traditional African beliefs, so it is time to take care of the preservation of cultural heritage.

A group of students in Burkina Faso, a West African nation, were among the first to think about it. The students founded ASAMA, an organization aimed at preserving and promoting African traditions. In 1996 ASAMA became the organizer of the largest festival of masks – FESTIMA (International Festival of Masks and the Arts).

During the festival, the streets of Dedugu are transformed into venues for masquerade processions and true African mask dance. Participants wear fancy costumes that the uninitiated viewer will not understand – so incredible are the costumes. But each item, accessory, and detail has its sacred meaning. Communities from all over the country as well as from neighboring countries come to perform here: Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Nigeria, Mali, and Senegal.

Other African celebrations are also part of the festival. For example discussions on the theme “The role of women in the rituals and practices of the mask”. Also, a huge market is being organized where traditional African souvenirs can be bought.

FESTIMA is held every two years in February and lasts a week.

Asa Baako, Ghana

asa bako

Every year, Ghana, a small country in West Africa, hosts the Asa Baako Festival of African Culture. It was first held in 2011 when organizers from Great Britain and Ghana together with locals decided to turn a small fishing village Busua in the west of the country into a center of attraction for representatives of different directions of African art and thus increase interest in the traditions of the region.

Over the past five years, the festival has evolved from a single-stage and a couple of hundred guests into a large-scale African festival that attracts several thousand people – all those who are passionate about African culture.

The festival offers a wide range of entertainment: performances, beach parties, surfing, art exhibitions, small tours of the surrounding area, cinema, and even yoga.

These are just the top 3 festivals we’ve talked about. Let us know if you liked this theme and want more articles about festivals in Africa.

Read more about festivals in our article about The vibrant experience of Indian festivals

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