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A Look at Some of East Africa Major Holidays

A Look at Some of East Africa Major Holidays

East Africa is one of the popular tourist destinations for all times of the year-It’s sparkling beaches, equatorial rainforests and savannah, warm and cool climate make it ideal vacation spot.

Geographically, the region is well known for its magnificent physical features. The two highest mountains in Africa are located here: Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya. The River Nile, the longest river in Africa has its source Africa’s biggest lake, Lake Nyanza also known as Lake Victoria.

But culture in East Africa is very rich and storied, and its major holidays reflect this. While not a comprehensive list of all of East Africa’s holidays, these are some of the most widely-celebrated ones. And although tourists are often encouraged to actively participate in some of the holiday traditions described below, Uganda Martyrs Day in Uganda, Serengeti Cultural festival, Wanyambo Festival in Tanzania, Maralal Camel Derby, Easter. We encourage visitors to confirm with locals the best (and most respectful) ways to participate in these holidays.

  • Easter

It falls on Sunday, March 31, 2024 and most businesses follow regular Sunday opening hours in Uganda. Easter Sunday commemorates Jesus’ resurrection from death.

In Kenya as well Uganda and Tanzania Easter celebrations begin on Palm Sunday. On this day, Kenyan children bring palm leaves to church and sing hymns to commemorate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. On Good Friday, many Kenyans participate in processions, re-enacting the Stations of the Cross.

Specifically in Uganda, for a truly different Easter, you might have to travel some way out of town. If you can get there, the Easter Weekend Yoga Retreat at Lake Bunyonyi promises a truly special and unique holiday experience. Take some time out to distress and connect with nature on the serene shores of West Uganda’s Lake Bunyonyi. You’ll also have the opportunity to go canoeing on the lake and hiking in the surrounding mountain side, before enjoying a traditional Batwa festival for a special lakeside Easter celebration.

So, whether you’re sticking with the traditional celebrations in Kampala city center or riding in and around town to enjoy the weekend with family, Bonobos Africa Safari Holidays is available to help every step of the way this Easter. Happy Easter!

  • Uganda Martyrs Day

This holiday is one of the most celebrated religious days throughout the worl. This walk is known as the Martyrs’ death match to Namugongo. On arrival, he celebrated holy mass and planted a cross at the spot where Charles Lwanga was killed. This marked the very beginning of the annual pilgrimage to Namugongo.

The origin of this special day dates back in the late 19th century when Christian missionaries from both catholic and Anglican groups came to Buganda to spread Christianity. The martyr’s day every on 3rd June is an important event in Uganda. The day, a public holiday, is fast becoming an African religious event celebrating these saints church. The day commemorates the 45 martyrs, both Catholic and Anglican, who were killed on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II, then King of Buganda between 1885 and 1887

The Uganda martyrs are celebrated and remembered by millions of people worldwide, with pilgrimages even made to celebrate their life and faith every 3rd June of the year. As this days draws closer, many people walk from long distances to Namugongo in bid to celebrate this day

  • Serengeti cultural Festival.

It is an annual event that congregates people from across the world at Serengeti National Park and the Lake Zone; this festival is a showcase of traditional art and dance Festival In Tanzania

Every third week of July the town of Mugumu in the Mara region in Western Tanzania celebrates the annual Serengeti Cultural Festival. This unique event gathers together people from different tribes that live between Lake Zone and the Serengeti National Park.


  • Wanyambo Festival

The Wanyambo Festival is one of the best opportunities to check out the local culture of Tanzania in early January. The event is staged in the northern area of Dar es Salaam known as Makumbusho, with lots of traditional music, dance, costumes, and food. It is held in early January

  • Maralal Camel Derby

The annual race in Maralal attracts riders and spectators from far and wide. It takes place from October 5 through to October 8 at Yare Camel Camp It’s a race for professionals and amateurs alike, all vying for first position. The camel race starts in the center of town, where a mass of heaving, ungainly camels, jostle for their place in history. Some run backwards, others off to the side; it is a melee of chaos noise excitement and color. The more professional riders manage to race past the line of spectators heading for the finish line.  If camel riding is not for you there is also a bike race or a 10 Km running race, where you can take in the spectacular landscape of the Samburu County as you compete over a demanding course. The bike race attracts a mixture of world class bikes and local amateurs, on bikes that don’t always manage to see the finish line.


  • Kilimanjaro marathon

Situated south of the equator – in Tanzania – at 5 895m, this is Africa’s highest mountain and the highest free standing mountain in the world (as it is not part of a mountain range).  Huge permanent glaciers flow down from the summit, and the sheer presence of this huge mountain dominates the entire area. Every year, at the end of February/beginning March, a standard 42.2 km marathon, a 21.1 km half marathon and a 5 km fun run will be held in the town of Moshi, Tanzania. This race has been set up to promote the sport in Tanzania, and has the official backing of the Tanzania Tourist Board, the Tanzania Amateur Athletics Association, the IAAF, and is registered with AIMS.

As a fully registered IAAF race, the marathon has official marshaling, time-keeping and refreshment points at regular intervals. It may be used as a qualifier for Comrades. The race is run under the watchful eye of Mount Kilimanjaro, with the altitude gain being quite manageable and with the entire race being completed between 830 and 1150m a. s. l on good tarred roads. Kilimanjaro Marathon is hosted by the city of Moshi, Tanzania.

  • Mwaka kogwa festival

There are an abundance of reasons to visit Zanzibar, and the Mwaka Kogwa Festival in July/August deserves a place on that list. Commemorating the Shirazi heritage of the first non-Africans to settle there, there are a number of associated rituals to welcome in the Persian New Year. Village men settle arguments by battling one another with banana stalks, while the women sing and dance. A straw hut is then set on fire. These activities are all symbolic, and serve to expel any acrimonious feelings from the year before, and encourage positivity for the one ahead.



If you’re planning a trip to East Africa, you may want to time your visit to coincide with one of these holidays for a truly unique and memorable experience and all with Bonobos African Safari Holidays.



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