7 Amazing events you need to experience in Zanzibar

8 January 2019

Spanning just 100km long and 40km across, the tiny island of Zanzibar still manages to squeeze in a whole bunch of celebrations along its gorgeous coastline and in historic Stone Town. Take a look at some of the exciting festivals and events you can expect on your holiday in Zanzibar.

Zanzibar Revolution Day

Held on the 12th of January every year, Zanzibar’s Revolution Day celebrates the end of 200 years of Arab dominance. This patriotic party goes on well into the evening with celebrations raging at the Forodhani Waterfront and the Maisara Grounds.

Sauti za Busara

Taking place over three days in February, this vibey carnival celebrates African music at its best. It’s up there with some of Africa’s most-loved music festivals, and features over 400 musicians from across the continent. Put on your dancing shoes and get down to the funky rhythms of taarab, jazz, Afro-pop and bongo flava.

Mwaka Kogwa

To celebrate the Shirazi New Year in July, villages across the island take part in a super unique festival you need to see to believe. This colourful festival follows the belief that to kick off the New Year on a happy note, you need to get rid of all the bad vibes. To release the tension, men get together and duel with banana plant stalks while women sing out their grievances. Once the dust has settled, they set a small thatch hut alight to ward off any potential hut fires in the future.

Zanzibar Beach and Watersports Festival

What would a Zanzibar holiday be without a bit of celebrating on the beach? In honour of the island’s awesome coastline, the locals throw an annual Beach and Watersports Festival with all sorts of beachy activities, including football, volleyball and even rugby tournaments. Not into sports? No worries. There are plenty of chilled options too, including bar-tending competitions, yoga on the beach, drumming workshops, jam sessions and more.

Zanzibar's Film Festival

Movie buffs won’t want to miss this awesome film festival. Africa’s version of Cannes, this 16-day event sees movie makers and documentarians from across East Africa and the Indian Ocean come together to tell their stories and share their perspectives. Workshops, screenings and master classes take place at various locations across the island, ending in a final awards night for the best films.


Taking placing in August, this Islamic celebration marks the end of Ramadaan - a hugely important religious event on the Zanzibari calendar. After weeks of fasting and religious contemplation, families and friends celebrate with gifts, amazing food and good times. Expect vibrant events all over the island, with concerts, games, singing and kids playing in the streets.

Jahazi Literary & Jazz Festival

September sees all of Tanzania’s best musicians and poets come out to play in a spectacular festival that celebrates music and the written arts. Open-air jazz concerts, poetry readings, story telling, cultural tours, and awesome after-parties are all on the playlist.

It’s all happening in amazing Zanzibar! Book your island holiday to Zanzibar here.