Botswana’s traditional village festivals were held in the same manner for hundreds of years until the country achieved independence. During the following decades, many of the smaller celebrations were combined to make more modern events, and now draw thousands of tourists to the fascinating indigenous displays of African music and dance. Two of the favorite offerings are Gaborone’s Maitisong Festival and the Maun Festival.
New Year’s Day
As in the rest of the world, the arrival of each new year is a Botswana holiday celebrated with street parties, dances, traditional music, and inordinate amounts of food and drink. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are great times to celebrate another year of life.
World Wetlands Day
This February event is popular across the country for its focus on environmental, conservation and tree-planting, as well as a Wetlands March. There’s great concern in Botswana over the protection of its wildlife and unique environment.
Gaborone’s major festival takes place in March, and is a performing arts cornucopia of traditional music, dance and theater held all over the city and its suburbs. The event lasts for nine full days and sees the entire population take to the streets in carnival mode.
Traditional poetry, music and dance are the hallmarks of the Maun Festival, held over a two-day period in April. The visual arts also have their place in this celebration, which is held for the benefit of local schools, as well as honoring northwestern Botswana’s rich tribal culture.
Tjilenje Cultural Festival
This festival takes place in May and is held in Botswana’s northeastern regional town of Nlapkhwane. Totally traditional, the event involves ancient games, dances and stalls crammed with local food and drink.
Toyota 1000 Desert Race
A must-see for fans of off-road motor sport races, this thrilling annual June event involves quads, bikes and cars, with 25 spectator areas set around the country.
Botswana’s President’s Day in July is a four-day national holiday across the country and sees inhabitants returning to their home villages for celebrations including speeches, traditional dance and singing.
Kuru Dance Festival
This unique event takes place every August on the only Bushman-owned game farm in Botswana. The Dqae Game Farm lies in the Kalahari Desert close to D’Kar and comes alive with traditional dance and music for three days.
The Batswana are proud of the advances their country has made since independence, happily hitting the streets in celebration every year on September 30. Traditional events, street parties and parades are the order of this important day.
Most Batswana follow the Christian religion, and Christmas is a great time to visit as it’s a major holiday here. Seasonal events take place across the region and local choirs sing their hearts out in iconic African style at carol concerts. Western-style restaurants and pubs offer Christmas dinners and everyone gets together to celebrate.