The Ethiopian calendar is filled with festive events that celebrate the country’s rich traditions. Cultural affairs and sporting events abound throughout the year, the biggest of which are held in the thriving capital city of Addis Ababa. Dance and musical performances are a common theme of traditional events, along with art and religion.
Genna Festival celebrates the Ethiopian Christmas. It falls on January 7 each year (according to the Julian calendar) when night-long church services are held followed by fun fellowships with townsfolk.
The Timkat Feast is a three-day festival on January 19 that celebrates the baptism of Christ on theJordan River. Beautifully decorated tabots (tablets onto which the Ten Commandments are enscribed) that represent the Ark of the Covenant are paraded around the city.
All Ethiopian Games
This huge sporting event is held every four years in March to celebrate athletes from all over the country. The competition last a week, enhanced by all kinds of cultural and traditional performances, making the games among the most popular events in Ethiopia.
Addis International Film Festival
This acclaimed film festival features both international and local movies, documentaries and shorts. It celebrates the growing African motion picture industry from May 14 through 19.
Tensae Cycle Race
An annual Easter race, athletes from all over the world come to compete and watch as cyclists complete 22 laps around the Addis Ababa Stadium.
Ethiopian Film and Music Festival
Two festivals in May that bring Ethiopia's culture centerstage, you can expect outdoor film screenings, as well as a series of musical events and concerts that celebrate the wide variety of genres and styles that have emerged in the country.
While Ethiopia is a predominantly Christian country, it is home to a Muslim minority. Ramadan is closely observed in eastern areas, as well as in the town of Harar. The exact dates vary depending on the Islamic calendar.
Ethiopians still use the Julian calendar, which is why their New Year falls on September 11. This day overlaps with the end of the rainy season and is celebrated with all kinds of merriment, gift exchanges, flowers, and cards.
The Meskal Festival is celebrated on September 27 with floral processions and the burning of torches. It commemorates the discovery of the True Cross, part of which is preserved at the Gishen Marien Monastery.
This September pilgrimage event is held around Lake Hora. The Oromo tribes visit yearly to perform different religious rites and ceremonies.
Festival St. Aregawi
A biannual celebration, the dates change yearly for devotees to take a pilgrimage to the sacred Debra Damo Monastery.
The Great Ethiopian Run
One of the most outstanding races in Ethiopia, this late November event attracts thousands of runners and athletes to compete on a 6.25 mile track.
Celebrations of Kullubi, or the Feast of St. Gabriel, are marked by a long procession on December 28. Participants typically depart from St. Gabriel Church and parade around Addis Ababa.
Arba Minch Festival of Music and Dance
This December musical and dance event is celebrated in the southern regions of Ethiopia. It showcases the distinct local culture and rich African traditions.