Holidays and Festivals in Kenya

Holidays and festivals in Kenya reveal the intricate history and diverse cultures of the people. In truth, Kenyans love their holidays, they even created one to celebrate the US President Obama’s win during the 2007 elections!

Calendar of national holidays and festivals

New Year’s Day – 1st January – Marks the start of New Year

Good Friday and Easter Monday – The Friday or Monday before and after Easter, depending on the date of Easter – Mark Easter celebrations, a Christian holiday

Labor Day – 1st May – International workers’ day

Madaraka Day – 1st June – A commemoration of Kenya’s internal self-rule status in 1963

Mashujaa/Heroes Day (formerly Kenyatta day) – 20th October – Changed from a holiday meant to commemorate Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta to a holiday that celebrates all statesmen involved in the struggle for Kenya’s freedom

Jamhuri Day – 12th December – Commemorates the day Kenya became a Republic in 1964 and attained independence in 1963

Christmas Day – 25th December – International Christian holiday

Boxing Day – 26th December – Traditionally a day where workers receive gifts from their employers, in Kenya it is extra time to spend with family and friends to relax after the hype of Christmas.

Calendar of notable countrywide festivals

Art Festivals – March – Also referred to as the East African Art Festival, this three-day event is held in Nairobi for exhibitors drawn from the entirety of East Africa. On display are works of art such as paintings and artifacts, etc.

Rhino Charge Festival – June – Meant to mobilize funds to build a perimeter fence in the Aberdare National Park to protect endangered Black Rhino, this festival is an adrenaline-charging, off-road rally and it tests your mastery in driving across rough terrain consisting of boulders, hills, valleys, shrubs and embankments.

Lewa Marathon – June – An annual fundraising marathon across the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy consisting of a 26.2 mile race through a forest, bush course, openland and going up hills.

Kenya Safari Rally – July – An electrifying 2-day car rally consisting of driving through muddy roads, open plains and wilderness and negotiating Kenya’s wildlife.

Maralal Camel Derby – August – An annual event featuring fierce camel races is held midyear in Maralal town attracting both local and international spectators and competitors.

Safari Sevens Rugby Tournament – September or October – An annual global rugby competition held in Nairobi, Safari Sevens separates the wheat and the chuff in Kenya’s rugby.

Kenya Tourism Week – September – A one-week event that showcases Kenya’s art and music, cuisine and various cultures.

Lamu Cultural Festival – November – A blend of what is modern and traditional is held in the Coastal town of Lamu to display arts, customs and traditions of the locals.

Mombasa Carnival – November – A popular festival that revels varied traditions and ethnicity in Kenya. Held in Mombasa city, the festival features colorful parades, food, poetry, music and dances popularly known as “Taarab” and colorful costumes.

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