With Christmas in the air and a spirit of holiday on its heels, if you’re anything like me, you might be looking for something exciting to do during your days off work with those special people in your life. If you have the wanderlust bug, Africa has a few surprises up its sleeve.

Calabar Christmas Carnival, Nigeria

Commonly known as the biggest street party in Africa, the Calabar Christmas Carnival has been drawing visitors since its inception. Held annually from December 1st to the 31st, it offers a treat for the senses, from music performances that have been headlined by big international artists, to fashion shows, Christmas shows, and cultural displays. It’s not too late to get in on the action. Pop around on December 22nd for the cultural parade or grab a bite on the 23rd at the African food fest. Catch a bit of Christmas spirit on the 24th at the festival of carols or spend Christmas day at the Christmas carnival concert. The culmination, Africa’s largest street party, will be on the 28th and the festivities will conclude on the 31st with fireworks at midnight. For a fuller description of the carnival and activities surrounding it, check out Ayiba’s Calabar Christmas Guide.

Photo Credit: Pillar: Reporting Grassroots With Passion

Vic Falls Carnival, Zimbabwe

Photo Credit: Africa Geographic

Dreading the same old New Year Eve plans? Why not make a weekend of it and head to the majestic Victoria Falls for the Jameson Vic Falls Carnival on December 29th – 31st to usher in 2017 with a three-day extravaganza! Apart from the festival line-up of Southern Africa’s biggest artists and bands, go bungee jumping or white water rafting. If that’s too daring, jump on the African carnival-themed steam train and party to your heart’s content at the secret bush party.

Photo Credit: Africa Geographic

Cape Carnival, South Africa

A New Year’s tradition in South Africa is that of the Kaapse Klopse, a festival which usually takes place on January 2nd in the streets of Cape Town. This annual event originated in the 19th century when slaves were given a day to celebrate the start of the New Year. Over the years this festival has become tradition, drawing crowds from all over the country. The parade starts in the historic District Six and winds its way through the city. Known for its colourful costumes and music, preparations start as early as July. The festival starts on New Year’s Eve and festivities can continue well into January.


Festival of the Sahara, Tunisia

The International Festival of the Sahara will take place from December 24th to the 29th in Douz, Tunisia. Held annually since 1910, this festival is one of the oldest. The festival boasts a combination of acts, drawing famous poets and writers from across the region, particularly for the “Samour Night.” Parents can rest assured that there will be a variety of activities to keep children busy and music lovers will enjoy the array of artists from countries such as Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, and Egypt. Perhaps the most popular part of the festival is “H’nich” yard, in which equestrian performances, camel wrestling, foal races, and dog hunting entertain up to 100,000 people every day.