Grab your rum and raspberry, meet like-minded travellers and celebrate the good things in life at one of these top events and festivals in Mozambique.
Combine these festivities with all that Mozambique has to offer – tropical beaches, cultural vibrancy and natural beauty. It’s a guaranteed recipe for sheer bliss. New Mozambique festivals pop up regularly and the capital city of Maputo has quickly become an exciting hub for local music festivals and art events, especially within the Kulungwana Espaco Artistico and the Centro Cultural Franco Moçambicano.
Take the hassle out of travel arrangements when planning to attend any festivals in Mozambique. Based in Maputo, Dana Tours are the local specialists with 15 years’ experience and a bilingual team.
Here are some of Dana Tours’ top festival picks for 2018.
Gwaza Muthini Festival
Date: 2 February 2018
The annual Gwaza Muthini Festival pays homage to those who resisted colonial rule along with those who died in the historic Battle of Marracuene in 1895. It takes place in Marracuene town, which is about 30 km north of Maputo and sees local Mozambicans getting together to enjoy traditional food whilst taking part in song and dance. If you decide to attend this festival, don’t leave without having a (small) taste of some ukanhi a traditional brew made from canhu, the fruit of the canhoeiro tree. It is considered to be sacred and found throughout Maputo and Gaza provinces.
Date: 20th of May 2017
Azgo is Mozambique’s international arts festival, which brings together a diverse line-up of music from jazz, soul, marrabenta, samba, Afro-beat, hip-hop, pop, electronica, reggae and many more. Held in the capital city, “Azgo” is an old Maputo slang that means, “let’s go” and it captures this contemporary celebration of arts, dance and culture, with a strong focus on artists from Mozambique and those from around the continent of Africa. This specific festival serves as a platform for emerging and acclaimed artists to collaborate and to garner a new audience.
STRAB- The Subterranean Rhythm and Blues Festival
Date: 24-27 May 2018
Venue: Ponta Malongane
If you’re in Mozambique in May, you might just have to include STRAB festival into your itinerary. This annual event first started off as a birthday party among a group of scuba divers but since then it has expanded, now featuring a number of live bands from South Africa who come together to perform. It’s one of those festivals in Mozambique that’s become incredibly popular and attendees travel far and wide to attend this beach-based, rum-and-raspberry wielding event, so be sure you’re ahead of the crowd and have your tickets and accommodation sorted well in advance.
Independence Day in Maputo
Date: 25 June 2018
Venue: Nationwide, with a larger parade in Maputo
Mozambique’s Independence Day festivities kick-off in June, particularly within Maputo. The blissful celebrations include traditional dancing and live performances at the national stadium, with a mix of live bands from Mozambique performing too. Out of all the festivals in Mozambique, even the president has been known to attend the event which commemorates Mozambique’s independence from Portugal on 25 June 1975. Be prepared for plenty toe-tapping, poetry and visual arts in the weeks leading up to this main event.
TAMBO International Art Camp / Festival
Date: July TBC
It is not only the vibrant capital of Maputo that delivers when it comes to festivals. During July, the port town of Pemba, joins in the list of fun-filled Festivals in Mozambique as it hosts this colourful art camp that celebrates cultural diversity through art, dance, theatre and music performances. During this seven day event, visitors will have the opportunity to create art together, exchange ideas and enjoy various kinds of hands-on workshops. Expect to see plenty live performances and opportunities to interact with traditional artists from Pemba and other parts of the world who have been invited to attend.
Put Foot Rally
Date: 17 June-5 July 2018
Venue: South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Malawi, Mozambique.
Adding to the list of festivals in Mozambique is the Put Foot Rally, which actually spans six African countries, including South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Malawi. It’s not quite a race but more so a test of endurance for those that are enthusiastic about heading off the beaten track. Those that participate, do so in all sorts of unique and wacky vehicles, where the main objective is to secure sponsorships for charity. It’s a noble cause that is also incredibly entertaining for spectators. If you plan on being in Mozambique when it is scheduled to end on 5 July, you can watch the enthusiastic contenders make a beeline to the finish.
Swimming with whale sharks
Date: June-September 2018
Venue: Bazaruto Archipelago
This is one of the more natural selections in the line-up of festivals in Mozambique and events and it’s a big deal for those in search of encountering whale sharks. These slow moving creatures are usually seen filter-feeding on krill near the surface in Bazaruto Archipelago National Marine Park and Tofo Beach, situated just north of Maputo. As long as you are comfortable in the water and can snorkel, then this is easy and safe. The best times to go snorkeling with whale sharks in Mozambique is from June to September, when the whale sharks arrive to feed and mate.
Whale Watching Season
Date: June-October 2018
Venue: Ponto do Ouro, Inhambane, Pemba
Every winter, pods of migratory Southern Right whales and the Humpback whales embark on their annual migration from Antarctica to the South East African coast of Africa to mate and calve. Whale watching season in Mozambique is a proper event, as nature-enthusiasts seek to experience these ethereal mammals in all their glory, as they breach, lop-tail and fin-slap. Out of the full list of Mozambique festivals and events, this is a spectacle you won’t want to miss!
CHOPI Music Festival
Date: End of July- start of August
If you love music and are keen to fully immerse yourself into Mozambican culture and experience true local flavour, the UNESCO recognised CHOPI Music Festival is exactly where you should go. It was set up to help preserve the musical heritage of this part of the world, celebrating in particular, the mbila, a handmade xylophone which is unique to this region. You’ll be truly amazed by the talent of the CHOPI musicians as they show off their skills on other traditional instruments too, such as animal horns, rattles, drums and whistles. It might be good to go with a local insider to this festival, so that you can get a more immersive experience.
Date: September TBC
Venue: Ponta Malongane
FORR Fest is much more than just a music festival. It’s more of a shared adventure to the gorgeous coastal village of Ponta Malongane. This is one of those festivals in Mozambique where you can really appreciate some of the best music on offer on the Southern African scene, while making the most of those palm-fringed beaches, as you swim in the warm waters of the Indian ocean. Opt for some scuba diving or go test your 4×4 skills in the sand while you’re at FORR-FEST, there are plenty of good times to be had with old and new friends as you sip on ice-cold rum-and-raspberries at sunset.
Xai-xai Beach Festival
Date: September TBC
Venue: Praia de Xai-xai, Gaza
Xai-xai Beach Festival ticks all the right boxes. If you’re in Mozambique in September be sure to add this one to your itinerary. You’re in for a real treat with the gastronomy on offer along with exhibitions set against the backdrop of traditional and modern dance. Expect a variety of music to enjoy with more than 50 local and international guest artists from António Marcos, Dilon Djindji, Lourena Nhate, Refila Boy, Mr. Bow, GPRO FAM, Cláudio Ismael and Isac Matusse. You will be sure to walk away with some new favorite artists to add to your playlist.
Date: October TBC
Venue: Praia de Zalala, Quelimane – Zambezia
This fun-filled event serves to promote local tourism in Mozambique. Held during the month of October, it has been so successful that it has already celebrated its 10th edition and attracts up to 36 000 people from many different countries. Each year you can expect to be entertained by a line up that boasts up to 70 artists and performers from different provinces such as Maputo, Sofala and Nampula. Expect a good vibe with lots of dancing well into the night.
Festival do Tofo
Date: November TBC
Venue: Praia da Barra, Inhambane
This festival held at Barra Beach takes place each year at the start of November. The dates for 2018 are still to be announced but be sure to keep your eyes peeled as it promises a jam-packed line-up of local artists and guests such as Matilde Conjo, Eduardo Paim, and Grace Evora among others. The aim of Festival do Tofo is to bring tourists and foreigners together, especially from South Africa, in order to encourage and promote cultural tourism. It also features various activities to look forward to, along with a craft fair and plenty food stalls.
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