Holidays and Festivals in Kenya : Kenya has an abundance of activities and events throughout its holidays and festivals, many of which showcase varied aspects of the country’s culture. If you would like to add one or more festivals in your schedule, our team of professionals can tailor your trip to meet your demands. In order to motivate you to plan your vacation to Kenya, we’ve selected five of our favourite festivals and five of the greatest holidays. Looking for something to do this weekend in Mombasa?
New Year’s holidays
In addition to Christmas and Jamhuri Day, Utamaduni Day, often called Boxing Day, is honoured by Kenyans in Mombasa and is marked by prayers, social gatherings, and cuisine. The word “culture” is what “Utamaduni” signifies.
As with other nations, religious services, fireworks, music, and general revelry mark Kenyans’ celebration of the new year on December 31. These celebrations continue far into daybreak and even into New Year’s Day, complete with beach parties and live music. For New Year’s Eve, stay at hotels in Mombasa on the north coast.
Eid ul Fitr
Muslims congregate in Mombasa for prayers during the Eid ul Fitr holiday. Because there are 11% Muslims in this country, Eid ul Fitr, which falls in May or June, is a significant occasion on the calendar every year. During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate the conclusion of the fast with extended days of feasting and spending time with friends and family. This historic event takes place when the moon appears during the month. They also carry out customary prayers and rites for purification. It is the most religious of Kenya’s holidays.
October 20 is honoured as Mashujaa Day, or Heroes’ Day. In honour of all the national heroes as well as those who contributed to Kenya’s independence, it is a national holiday. Prior to 2010, Mashujaa Day was also known as Kenyatta Day and was solely honoured in remembrance of a few other liberation fighters as well as Jomo Kenyatta, the country’s first president. The Mashujaa Day festivities are held in Nairobi’s Uhuru Gardens or any other venue that the government will announce.
What day is Jamhuri? One of Kenya’s holidays commemorates the country’s formation as a republic in 1964 as well as its independence from Britain in 1963. The word “Jamhuri” in Swahili for this annual December 12 celebration means “republic.” At this important occasion, all eight of Kenya’s presidents deliver addresses. There will be street parades, dancing, feasts, fireworks, and more at this festival.
In November, the Mombasa Carnival honours Kenya culture safaris by holding a carnival in Mombasa beside the Indian Ocean, in addition to the Kenya safari and beach safaris. Other festivities, there is a street parade including floats that represent the nation’s numerous tribal identities. While vendors sell anything from illegal reggae CDs to wood sculptures. The festival will feature performances by dancers, musicians, and artists from East Africa and other tribes. Artists from all throughout Kenya participate, transforming the funfair into a powerful display of East Africa’s vibrant culture.
For the thousands of people attending this well-known festival, there is also an abundance of food, drink, and dancing. Old-timey religious music will probably calm your eardrums just as much as brash Afro pop will. The old Fort Jesus, which overlooks the harbour, is one of the area’s attractions. Inland are the Masai Mara National Reserve and the Rift Valley. It is among the most enjoyable ways to observe Kenyan festivals. Hotels on Mombasa’s north coast abundant.
Lamu is home to one of the oldest and best-preserved Swahili-speaking tribes in all of East Africa. It’s a well-liked vacation spot in Kenya as well. The island has had a consistent population for over 700 years and continues to be an important hub for Eastern Africa. Every November, the cultural event on Lamu island brings Kenyans together to celebrate the nation’s core values and customs past, present, and future.
The three-day event takes place all throughout the UNESCO-listed ancient “old town,” which features gorgeous alleyways and seaside lanes that showcase many facets of Kenyan customs. Take part in henna tattoos, crafts, poetry readings, donkey and dhow races, and Swahili cuisine and dances. On-Swahili tribes and guests can showcase their customs and ways of life to the globe during the festival. There’s no better way to enjoy the holidays and festivals of Kenya than this. In addition, Mombasa offers thousands of pleasant spots to explore.
It is one of Kenya’s most alluring events, having begun in 2008 and distinguished by its vivid colours, exquisite cultural exhibitions, and distinct attitude of happiness and kindness. With the hope of resolving the conflict between the ten tribal groups, the event aims to promote harmony and unity while honouring the cultures of the tribes residing in the Lake Turkana region. The event showcases numerous tribes, including Turkana, Samburu, Wata, and others, with their own customs, way of life, arts and crafts, clothing, music, and dance.
Together with the wide variety of culinary alternatives and breathtaking scenery, Loiyangalani town offers a unique three-day festival that is definitely worth seeing. Every year, in May or June, it is conducted. Are you even familiar with the appearance of a Burji or a Gabra? Have you ever seen them engage in their customary singing and dancing? Have you ever had the chance to see the living room of a Dassanach hut? Have you ever had any of these groups’ cuisine? You won’t see something like that anywhere else outside the Lake Turkana Festival in Loiyangalani, Northern Kenya.
Maralal Camel Derby
This three-day yearly event, which takes place every year in mid-August just outside the town of Maralal in Samburu county, is constantly bustling with camels, colourfully dressed warriors, and traders. Every year, riders and fans travel to Maralal from all over the world for the event. In this race, novices and specialists are vying for first place.
In the centre of the town is where the camel race starts. There’s a swirl of colour, noise, excitement, and pandemonium as some individuals veer off to the side and others flee backward. When they get closer to the finish line, the skilled riders are able to outrun the throng of spectators. If riding a camel isn’t your style, you may still enjoy the breathtaking beauty of Samburu County by competing in a 10 km jogging or cycling event.
The town is also hosting traditional dance performances, which resemble live cultural events. This desert town comes to life as locals and visitors mingle and enjoy a vibrant, action-packed cultural experience that is a kaleidoscope of colour, noise, and fashion. If you are lucky enough to be in Kenya during this event, don’t miss it since it showcases the best of Samburu culture. Alternatively, schedule your travel to coincide with it to take advantage of Kenya’s festivals and holidays.
The Maulidi celebration, which honours the prophet Mohamed’s birth, is another reason Lamu is well-known. This seven-day festival is organised by religious leaders in collaboration with Kenya National Museum. The festival draws visitors and pilgrims to Lamu from a considerable distance. There are poetry readings, music and dance performances, art exhibits, dhow and donkey races, swimming competitions, and, at the end, a vibrant procession that passes through the town’s winding lanes while being applauded by large crowds.
An unforgettable experience can be had by travelling to Lamu during the Maulidi festival and Kenya’s vacations. Since it was first populated in the seventh century, this tropical island has developed a rich cultural heritage. According to the Islamic calendar, the celebration is observed in June each year at the mosque in Riyadh, which was founded in 1866 by Habib Swaleh.
Similar to other nations, Kenya celebrates the birth of Christ with church services, nativity plays, carol singing, and feasting over the holiday season. Despite this, most Kenyans choose to adorn their homes with balloons, flowers, and leaves rather than tinsel and lights, and goat is typically eaten for Christmas supper in Kenya.
While many Kenyan families do give their children Christmas presents, these are typically more practical things like church attire and books. If you’re near the beach, get off your sun lounger and look up you might see Santa delivering gifts on a water ski or camel. To have a good time, the locals go above and beyond.
If you’re thinking of visiting Kenya in December, Christmas is a great time to go. In addition to experiencing the unique Kenyan Christmas, this month offers nice weather with little to no rain. The ideal month to travel to Kenya is during the vacation season.