Lesotho — Festivals and Events
Festivals in Lesotho are centered around Christianity and the rich heritage and culture of the country. There are also celebrations of independence, and events linked to the troubled times leading up to the political stability of the present day. The two favorites in all Basotho are the Morija Arts and Cultural Festival and King Moshoeshoe I’s Day.
On March 11, Bosotho people get together in celebration of the life and reign of Moshoeshoe the Great, Lesotho’s first king who died in 1870. A great leader and talented diplomat, the king was responsible for the preservation of much of the cultural heritage still thriving today, as well as the establishment of Christianity through his welcoming of European missionaries.
Family Day in early March is a celebration of one of the pillars of the country’s culture. Family get-togethers involve workers returning to their villages for the day to eat, drink and have a great time.
Easter week, usually in April, is the year’s most important religious festival, with all the usual parades, church attendances and family get-togethers. Most Basotho take their Christianity very seriously, with Easter Sunday a day of pure joy.
Morija Arts and Cultural Festival
The favorite event in Lesotho, the Arts and Cultural Festival, is held every September or October for five days in and around the capital. It is a feast of theater, poetry, dance, music, song, crafts, art exhibits, and everything in between. The festival showcases performances of jazz, modern music, African movies, and much more, and draws tens of thousands of visitors.
Independence Day, which falls on October 4, celebrates the country’s release from British colonialism and its emergence as a free state. The day is a national holiday, celebrated all over the little country with traditional events, costumes, songs, dance, and musical performances. The city streets and villages come alive with revelers, while the Lesotho Royal Family greets foreign diplomats and important visitors from other African countries.
Lesotho Jazz Festival
The Lesotho Jazz festival takes place in the capital every December, attracting musicians from other southern nations as well as from all over Lesotho. Jazz is popular all over Africa, with this event focusing on music as an integral part of social development. Set in the heart of the tourist season, the event draws spectators from many countries.
Almost all Basotho are Christians, with the faith’s religious holidays celebrated in true African fashion with church services, family gatherings and the glorious full-voiced African harmonies used in full effect in a capella Christmas hymns. Midnight mass on Christmas Eve is a not-to-be-missed experience.
The welcoming of the New Year takes place with typical African enthusiasm, involving street celebrations, fireworks at midnight and parties all over town.