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Lamu Cultural Festival 2023

Celebrate donkey races, dhow sailing, ancient bao games, and everything about the rich Swahili heritage

Dates: November 30–December 2, 2023

Lamu Cultural Festival
Lamu Cultural Festival

Lamu island community has a relaxed and peaceful lifestyle, but comes Lamu Cultural Festival, the overall vibe is suddenly changed. Locals gather to celebrate their past, present, and future with a bang. The festive program is typically comprised of a true smorgasbord of activities, including dhaw races, donkey races, henna paintings, and bao competitions. The season of the revelry usually falls on late November.

Donkey races along the Lamu waterfront must be the party's main centerpiece and most anticipated event. The town's donkey jockeys hone their skills for the entire year before participating in this challenge, but the winning rider is also going to be honored during the whole year to come. Dhow sailing across a series of buoys is likewise an amusing tradition, showcasing the strength and prowess of the Lamu residents, who must combine speed with tacking and maneuvering.

Besides racing, the festival-goers can enjoy Swahili poetry readings, traditional dancing (ngoma), dhow building, fish trap making, palm weaving, and live music performances. The true cherrry on top, the ancient Bao competitions, are known as one of the world's oldest games played for ages throughout Africa and the Middle East. Swimming is also an integral part of the celebration. Lastly, your visit to the festival would not be complete without savoring the best of local cuisine.

All in all, Lamu Cultural Festival promises a lot of unique fun and entertainment for everyone who loves to learn about the diversity of Lamu culture. So, book a stay nearby and head for an unforgettable experience in Kenya.

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin