Kenya is a land of great ethnic and cultural diversity. Archaeologist have documented that different ethnic groups from all over the continent have migrated to Kenya over the centuries, each bringing with them distinctive features of their own culture, making Kenya a fascinating country with a rich blend of traditional cultures.
Kenya holds some of the continent’s most amazing cultural events, which attract many visitors from across the world.
Mombasa Carnival Festival
The Mombasa Carnival happens every November. It is one of the biggest and most popular festivals in Kenya. The event is organized by the Ministry of Tourism, and it celebrates the traditions and ethnic diversity in Kenya. This vibrant festival in Mombasa, a city that has been influenced by African and Arabic customs for many years.
The main features of the event revolve around two colourful parades with people showcasing amazing costumes from different ethnic groups. Dance and music are also play an integral part of this festival. Men and women are often dressed in the traditional Kikoy and Kanga, which usually have Swahili phrases boldly printed.
A mix of traditional and contemporary artists join the celebration, making it a refreshing introduction to east Africa’s rich cultural diversity. Energetic traditional dances, as well as contemporary forms and belly dancers are performed as local bands showcase their art and talent.
Tourists who visit Mombasa during the festival have the opportunity to shop for souvenirs and enjoy delicious Kenyan dishes.
Lake Turkana Festival
Lake Turkana Festival is usually held around May every year. The festival brings together the various cultures of Marsabit County on the scenic shores of Lake Turkana. The Festival is a conglomerate of 14 communities that forms the bulk of the larger Marsabit County’s populace.
The event features unique performances and demonstrations of ten different ethnic communities which live in the Lake Turkana region. The presentation of their customs and living conditions, their spectacular traditional costumes, arts and crafts, dances, music and food is a unique and fascinating experience, with the main goal of promoting peace and reconciliation.
Lamu Cultural Festival
Lamu is an ancient Swahili township and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cultural festival offers an insight of how life in the old days was in terms of architecture and lifestyle.
The event is usually held annually in November, with exciting activities such as traditional Swahili poetry, henna painting, bao games, donkey races and dhow sailing, and a chance to enjoy various Swahili dishes.
Most visitors to the island fall in love with its relaxed, and peaceful lifestyle.
International Camel Derby Festival
The International Carmel Derby Festival held every year in August in the northern region of Kenya, is a blend of culture, colour, action, adventure and the finest camels races.
The derby is not only recognized as a serious Kenyan safari sport but an international sport and a great way to create awareness of the rapid onset in the desertification in Kenya. It brings colour and action to the streets of Maralal as the finest camels are gathered for the big race.
The event has been running since 1990 with visitors coming all over the world to celebrate and enjoy the camel races, cycling races for both amateurs and professional races alike, in the small town of Maralal.
Lamu Island annually hosts the historic Maulidi an Islamic festival held during the third month of the Muslim calendar (Rabi ul Awwal) to celebrate the birth of the Prophet Mohammed. The festival has been celebrated for more than a century and its now a permanent feature of East Africa’s Islamic festivities.
The festival is usually sponsored by the National Museum of Kenya. Various community building competitions take place, including swimming, dhow and donkey races, henna competitions and tug of war with a mixture of uniquely Swahili music, and dance. Muslims from all of the world who attend the event add their own variations and culture to the recitation.