Festivals and Holidays in Tanzania

Tanzania has 17 public holidays out of which 8 are religious holidays, 3 are national holidays, 2 observe the death anniversaries of the inaugural leaders of its constituent states, and 4 are of other national importance. The following is the list of public holidays observed by the Tanzanian government:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Zanzibar Revolution Day – This day marks the end of the rule of the Sultanate of Zanzibar.
  • Karume Day – This day is observed in honor of the death anniversary of the former president of Tanzania, Abeid Karume.
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday
  • Union Day – This day marks the unification of Tanganyika with People’s Republic of Zanzibar to form the United Republic of Tanzania.
  • Labor Day
  • Eid-ul-Fitr – This day marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan
  • Saba Saba Day – Climax of the annual Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair.
  • Nane Nane Day – Farmer’s Day.
  • Nyerere Day – This day is observed in honor of the death anniversary of Tanzania’s father of nation, Julius Nyerere.
  • Maulid Day – This day marks the birth anniversary of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
  • Independence Day – This day marks the celebration of the end of British rule in Tanzania back in 1961.
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day

Besides, the public holidays, the following are some of the festivals that a traveler might be lucky enough to witness or participate if it falls during their travel time period:

  • Wanyambo Festival – falls in early January. With lots of traditional music, dance, costumes and food, this festival is a good opportunity to check out the local Tanzanian culture.
  • Mzalendo Halisi Music Festival – a 2-day music festival during the month of May. It is staged in Kigitonyama in northwest Dar es Salaam and features traditional Tanzanian music by local performers along with art and cultural exhibitions.
  • Karibu Travel and Tourism Fair – held in May/June in Arusha where one can purchase from gemstones and furniture to safari gears and wine.
  • Mwaka Kogwa Festival – a 4-day long festival during July/August will allow you to see Tanzanian village men thrash each other with banana stalks to settle arguments of the previous year. Together with the usual singing, dancing, feasting, and drumming that goes with all east African festivals, Mwaka Kogwa includes specific rituals destined to bring good luck in the upcoming year.
  • Bagamoyo Arts Festival – This is a week-long event in September along the coastal town of Bagamoyo which is in between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar. The annual Arts Festival features traditional and contemporary dance and music and it also includes grand exhibitions, workshops and acrobatics shows.
  • Navaratri & Diwali – These are two holidays feted by Tanzania’s Indian community. Navaratri is the celebration of the worship of Shakti while Diwali is known as the festival of lights.
  • Zanzibar International Film Festival

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