12 Local Kenyan Festival You Need to Diarise

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Celebrate Kenya with These Exciting Cultural Festivals & Events

Kenya is one of the East African destinations that will charm you with its wonderful attractions and exciting activities. While Mombasa is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Africa, Lamu is steeped in history and cultural experiences. Even the small towns and cities offer a wide range of natural wonders, while the national parks offer a wide range of unique wildlife as well as spectacular sceneries.

With a wide range of festivals, Kenya offers a vibrant cultural diversity that will give you a glimpse into its diverse traditions. The country features a wide range of celebrations that take place all through the year. Thus, if you want to experience the Kenyan culture at its peak, there are several cultural festivals and events that you should probably attend.

Maralal Camel Derby

The Camel Derby event lights up the whole town of Maralal and its surrounding areas, attracting both local and foreign spectators every year. This event is typically all about camel riding for virtually anyone that wants to ride a camel and take part in the 10km camel racing competition. Aside from camel riding, there is also the cultural show that displays the diversity of the beautiful people of Samburu County. 

The Maralal Camel Derby is an annual event and usually takes place around midyear.

Maralal Camel Derby

Maralal Camel Derby, Image Source: Weldon Kennedy – flickr.com

Shela Hat Contest

It is a free world, and you are free to wear whatever kind of sun hat you like, especially on a beach. The Shela Hat Contest offers you a once in a year opportunity to wear the craziest hats you can ever think of on the Peponi Beach in Lamu. You can make the hat yourself, but your materials have to be from the island. The contest gives the locals an opportunity to express their creativity and skills and get rewarded for it.

The annual Shela Hat contest usually takes place during February.

Shela Hat Contest

Shela Hat Contest

Lamu Yoga Festival

Lamu Yoga Festival takes place annually, offering five days of yoga classes, workshops, and meditations in Lamu Island. The highlights of this festival are the yoga classes; about 150 of them, with more than 25 teachers interacting with yogis from all works of life. This is one place where you can discover the real essence of yoga, while you experience the Swahili culture and cuisines.

The Lamu Yoga Festival usually takes place during March each year.

Lamu Yoga Festival

Lamu Yoga Festival, Image Source: Hapakenya.com

Nairobi Film Festival

This is a one of a kind entertainment event meant to showcase local films and the cinema life in the cities of Kenya. This presents a great opportunity for local talents to join the entertainment industry and for the international prospects to tap into the growing movie company of Kenya.

The Anual Nairobi Film Festival (NBO) usually takes place during March.

Lake Turkana Cultural Festival

There is beauty and strength in diversity they say. Lake Turkana Cultural Festival is an annual event in Kenya and it usually takes place in Loiyangalani, which is located on the south-eastern coast of Lake Turkana. The event is hosted by Marsabit County featuring 14 communities with peculiar cultural diversity. The ethnic communities including Lake Turkana, Mount Marsabit, Chalbi Desert, and Moyale Escarpments come together at the festival to display their unique cultural diversity in songs, dances, and dress patterns.

The Lake Turkana Cultural Festival is an annual event and usually takes in June.

Lake Turkana Cultural Festival

Lake Turkana, Image Source: Yetuguide.com

Rhino Charge

The Rhino Charge is off-road motorsport competition that takes place every year in Kenya. This is a fun, roll-up-your-sleeve event that requires participants to visit the 13 strategic checkpoints using the shortest (and probably toughest) distance possible across rough terrain. The aim of this event is to raise funds to support Rhino Ark Kenya Charitable Trust and their noble causes.

The Annual Rhino Charge usually takes in June.

Rhino Charge

Rhino Charge

Nairobi Restaurant Week

There are so many perks of holidaying in Kenya, and one of them is the opportunity to taste the local delicacies and a variety of intercontinental dishes during the traditional Nairobi Restaurant Week. If you’re a foodie, give yourself a treat and attend the Nairobi Restaurant Week and enjoy mouthwatering dishes to delight your taste buds.

Restaurant Week usually takes every year during late January early February in Nairobi.

Nairobi Restaurant Week

Nairobi Restaurant Week

Tandawazi Festival

Tandawazi Festival is an annual festival that celebrates the cultural diversity of Kenya through music, martial arts, and dance. If you ever visit Kenya and you want to go dancing the Kenyan classic way, then the Tandawazi Festival is for you. You’ll have the opportunities to learn different forms of dance and art like capoeira, afro-latin dance, break dance, street dance, African drumming, and yoga.

The Tandawazi Festival usually takes every year during late March in Diani.

Koroga Festival

The Koroga Festival has been going on in Kenya for about two decades now and has continued to wax stronger and contribute immensely to the entertainment and general benefit of the Kenyan society. It is a simple but fun music festival hosted by Capital FM. The festival brings together some of the biggest acts from all over Africa.

The Koroga Festival usually takes place every year during May.

Koroga Festival

Koroga Festival, Image Source: Mpasho.co.ke

Rusinga Cultural Festival

The Rusinga Cultural Festival was founded with the aim of preserving the Suba culture. The event takes place in Rusinga Island, Homabay County, which is one of the hidden gems on Lake Victoria. The festival comes with a Christmas vibe to it and a great excitement for everyone present.

The Rusinga Cultural Festival takes place every last Thursday and Friday before Christmas.

Rusinga Cultural Festival

Rusinga Cultural Festival, Image Source: Elimuasilia.org

Lamu Cultural Festival

Lamu Cultural Festival is a celebration of the beliefs, culture, and traditions of the Lamu community. It’s an opportunity to get a glimpse into the past, present and future of the island. Get a taste of the Swahili life at the two-day Lamu Cultural Festival. The festival activities include dhow sailing races, traditional henna painting, competitive Bao games, donkey races, traditional craft making, and lots more.

The Lamu Cultural Festival is an annual event and usually takes place during November.

Lamu Cultural Festival

Lamu Cultural Festival, Image Source: Magicalkenya.com

Lamu Painters Festivals

In 2011, Herbert Menzer felt the need to create a bi-annual festival aimed at bringing together both local and international to paint the scenery and people of Lamu Island. They have indeed transformed the narrow alleyways of Lamu to one big temporal art studio that attracts spectators from far and near. The Lamu Art Festival brings together international and local artists, craftsmen and musicians on the island for a 3-day creative learning, inspiration, and enjoyment.

Lamu Painters Festival

Lamu Painters Festival, Image Source: Lamu.go.ke

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