World Party 3

Asia – Ati-Atihan

Ati-Atihan (1) Where? Kalibo, Panay Island, The Visayas, The Philippines When? Mid-January How long? 2 weeks In the sixteenth century, a pious Spanish friar noted that among the Visayan people of the Philippines it was not quite proper to drink alone or to appear drunk in public. Drinking was always done in small groups or in “gatherings where men as ... Read More »

Africa and the Middle East 8 – The best of the rest

The best of the rest (5) Mwaka Kogwa Where? Zanzibar When? July How long? 1 day Celebrating the Shirazi (Persian) New Year, Mwaka Kogwa is entirely organized and performed by the locals: the men take on each other in mock “fights”, armed only with banana leaves; the women parade around in their finest outfits choosing suitors; and there’s ritual burning ... Read More »

Africa and the Middle East 7 – The best of the rest

The best of the rest (4) Maherero Day Where? Okahandja, Namibia When? August How long? 1 day This very local festival is unique to the Herero people of Okahandja, a quaint little provincial town that’s around an hour’s drive north of the Namibian capital, Windhoek. The Herero are cattle farmers whose history is littered with bloody conflicts, both with their ... Read More »

Africa and the Middle East 6 – The best of the rest

The best of the rest (3) Gnawa and World Music Festival Where? Essaowiira, Morocco When? June How long? 4 days The music of the Gnawas (or Gnaouas), a spiritual brotherhood that has its origins in sub-Saharan Africa and melds animist, Berber and Arab influences, is mysterious, hypnotic, trance-inducing stuff that can send the musicians spinning (literally) into another plane. Essaouira ... Read More »

Africa and the Middle East 5 – The best of the rest

The best of the rest (2) Festival of the Dhow Countries Where? Zanzibar When? July How long? 10 days Though this started life as the Zanzibar International Film Festival, even before it had got off the ground the programme was extended to feature music and performing arts. The eighth festival showcased over 250 films, 40 performing artists and 10 exhibitions; ... Read More »

Africa and the Middle East 4 – The best of the rest

The best of the rest (1) Cure Salee Where? Agadez, Niger When? August/September How long? 1 day Traditional festivals are stitched firmly into the pattern of daily life in the ancient Agadez region of northwest Niger, and one of the most famous is the festival held after the rains – usually in August or September, when the area’s large salt ... Read More »

Africa and the Middle East 3 – Rustler’s Valley

Where? Rustler’s Valley, Free State, South Africa When? New Year and Easter are the big events, but there are two or three other parties held between September and April each year How long? 3-4 days Renowned even in South Africa for its small­town conservatism, the province of Free State rarely lives up to its enticing name, but the excellent Rustler’s ... Read More »

Africa and the Middle East 2 – Festival in the Desert

Festival in the Desert (2) It’s not for nothing that Mali’s best- known musical event is billed as the most remote music festival in the world. Set among the sparsely populated sand dunes of the southern Sahara, this musical bonanza is not easy to get to: after reaching the mythical outpost of Timbuktu (an adventure in itself), expect another three ... Read More »

Africa and the Middle East – Festival in the Desert

Festival in Desert (1) Where? Essakane, Mali When? Early January How long? 3 days Every January since 2003, growing numbers of foreigners have joined around 3000 Tuareg nomads to camp among the sand dunes of Essakane, northern Mali, for a shindig of music, dance, and camel racing. By world-party standard, it’s a small, even low-key affair; but the spectacle alone ... Read More »

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