Sierra Leone — Festivals and Events
There are more religious and national holidays in Sierra Leone than cultural festivals, but the ones on offer are certainly worth partaking in. Film buffs will love the Sierra Leone International Film Festival, which brings together some of the most creative minds from around the world. If travelers are looking to get involved in a good cause, the annual Kiln Sierra Leone Marathon is the perfect avenue, as most of the proceeds are donated to a charity.
The new year is marked by a public holiday on January 1 and is a popular time for parties, fireworks, and other festivities.
Sierra Leone International Film Festival
Taking place annually in March, the Sierra Leone International Film Festival spans six days, showcasing the collaborative efforts of talented film makers from around the globe. The festival is held in Freetown, but secondary screenings also take place in the towns of Bo, Makeni, Kono, and Kenema. The program consists, not only of several screenings, but also of educational workshops and discussions. Aspiring filmmakers are afforded the opportunity to engage in discussions with experts in the field and attend workshops focused on specific aspects of film. This is a great festival for anyone who is interested in international film, but also simply for travelers looking for a way to spend an enjoyable evening.
Ballanta Music Festival
Organized by the Ballanta Academy of Music in Freetown, this festival spans two days in mid-March. Performances and lectures by local musicians are enjoyed by both international and domestic attendees, with the events spanning a wide array of musical genres.
This important event on the Sierra Leone calendar brings together elements of music, craft, and culture, with activities marking various significant landmark’s in the country’s history, such as independence.
April 27 marks Sierra Leone’s National Independence Day. This day is declared a public holiday in the country, and most institutions, including banks, schools, and some shops, are closed. The day is celebrated with commemorative presentations and informative discussions about the country, its history, and the path to its future.
Kiln Sierra Leone Marathon
Every year on June 9, running and cross-country enthusiasts from across the globe come together to take part in the Kiln Sierra Leone Marathon. Taking place in the stunning Makeni countryside, the marathon is held to raise money for the worthy Street Child of Sierra Leone charity. Potential runners can choose to embark on a full, half, or three-mile route, and the proceeds of the entry fees go to this great organization. This is wonderful way to meet new people, see the breathtaking Sierra Leone countryside, and contribute to a good cause. Travelers who are interested in the organization can also visit some of the Street Child projects during their stay.
August in Sierra Leone marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and the annual arrival of Eid al-Fitr, the celebration to commemorate the occasion. After a long month of fasting, Eid is characterized by great family feasts, the delivery of gifts, and the purchasing of new clothes. Religious ceremonies are also held at mosques across the country.
This lively December event sees advocates of traditional music, dress, and food, with this being a great opportunity to witness what the locals wore during colonial times.