Zanzibar Events, Things to Do and Festivals 2014 / 2015
(Zanzibar, Tanzania, TZ, East Africa)
Zanzibar's calendar includes a host of traditional festivals that have been staged on its islands for hundreds of years, often being set to music. These include several Islamic festivals that serve as milestones in the islands' year.
Nowadays, the islands of Unguja and Pemba also stage several sporting and music events that are relatively new arrivals on the scene, with visitors finding plenty of things to do and attend most months.
Perhaps the most popular event in Zanzibar is Sauti za Busara, held every February. Events like these are a great opportunity to find out more about the culture of this fascinating East African country. They are also, of course, a chance to have some fun.
Zanzibar Calendar of Festivals and Events
- Zanzibar Revolution Day / Anniversary - held every year on January 12th to commemorate the ending of 200 years of Arab dominance. At midnight, a gun salute is heard, along with the tooting of horns from boats moored on the waterfront
- Sauti za Busara - mid-February, widely regarded as one of the best music festivals in East Africa, Sauti za Busara attracts around 400 musicians from Tanzania and other African countries. A carnival-style street parade is also held, along with music films, documentaries, workshops and concert screenings
- Zanzibar Cultural Festival - this lively event is a great way to get to know local culture, music and dance traditions. Various venues are used, with many events - such as canoe races and carnivals, taking place in Stone Town itself
- Maulid Day / Mawlid Day - late March, a public holiday held throughout Tanzania
- Easter Celebrations - although Easter is not widely celebrated in Zanzibar because of its mostly Islamic population, Good Friday and Easter Monday are given as public holidays
- Labour Day / Worker's Day - a public holiday in Zanzibar that is celebrated on May 1st each year
- Zanzibar International Film Festival - generally held in June or July, this has to rate as the biggest of East Africa's film fests. It showcases musical creativity, both within Africa and further afield. A whole host of screenings, workshops, children's events and performances make up the proceedings
- Mwaka Kogwa - mid-July, a festival that is held in seven villages in Zanzibar to celebrate the start of the Shirazi New Year. The best place to witness this spectacle is the southern part of the main island of Unguja
- Eid-al-Fitr - an Islamic celebration to mark the end of fasting. Many restaurants close during this four-day festival
- Jahazi Literary and Jazz Festival - late August to early September, a weekend of al fresco concerts, poetry readings and debates held in various venues around Stone Town
- Tanzacat Open - late September to early October, a sailing regatta that is organised by the Dar es Salaam Yacht Club. It includes Round the Marks Bay Racing and the Zanzibar Raid
- Zanzibar and IBMC Kids MTB Race - mid-September, this children's cycling event is held on Jan Thiel Beach and around its historic salt ponds area
- Visa 2 Dance Festival - opens in Dar es Salaam at the beginning of October, with an extra event staged in mid-October in Zanzibar
- Eid-al-Hajj (Feast of the Sacrifice) - annual Islamic celebrations take place to mark the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca
- Zanzibar Island Run - this newly established running event is held at the beginning of December in Stone Town. The programme includes a half marathon distance race and a shorter fun run
- Christmas - the festive season is celebrated in Tanzania, with many hotels offering visitors the opportunity to enjoy traditional Christmas celebrations