destination malawi web header 2017

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Annual Events

Whether it’s dress, dance, masks, language or witch doctors, the cultural mix of Malawi continues to fascinate visitors. Local people and village communities welcome interest in their daily life, so that few visitors to Malawi will leave without experiencing an element of its national traditions. Places of cultural interest include Dedza, which contains a Unesco World Heritage Site, the Chongoni Rock Art Area, as well as the famous Dedza Pottery. Also worth seeing is the Kungoni Centre of Culture and Art, with its displays of Gule Wamkulu masks, Ngoni and Yao cultural artifacts, tribal photographs and student wood carvings.

Unmissable events


January

Chilimika
When: 1-5 January
Where: Nkhata Bay, Northern Region

Chilimika means ‘year’ in Chewa. The Chilimika dance welcomes the arrival of a new year and is celebrated mainly by the Tonga tribe in the northern region of Malawi. The festival usually consists of young people dancing for the older generation in their communities.

Chilembwe Day
When: 15 January
Where: Nationwide

In 1915, during the First World War, the Reverend John Chilembwe organised an unsuccessful uprising against colonial rule. Today, Malawi sets aside 15 January each year to celebrate the life of Chilembwe, who has become a national hero.


March

Martyrs’ Day
When: 3 March
Where: Nkhata Bay

This national holiday commemorates the lives of the individuals who played a role in Malawi’s struggle for independence from British colonial regime on 3 March 1959.


May

Kamuzu Day
When: 14 May
Where: Nationwide

A public holiday to honour Hastings Kamuzu Banda on his official birthday. Often regarded as the father and founder of the nation, Banda was the country’s first president. He led Malawi to independence and ruled the country for over 30 years.


June

Luwawa International Mountain Bike Challenge
When: Second weekend of the month
Where: Luwawa Forest

Although it varies, the route usually starts at Luwawa Forest Lodge and runs along the ridges of the Viphya Mountains. There are fine views throughout the course, with plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife.

Lake Malawi Sailing Marathon
When: End of June to beginning of July (six days)
Where: Lake Malawi

First held in 1984, the Lake Malawi Sailing Marathon is an epic test of speed, endurance and sheer determination. It is also an opportunity to experience Malawi from a perspective witnessed by only a few. Many sailors return annually to Lake Malawi to take part.


July

Mount Mulanje Porters’ Race
When: First week of the month
Where: Likhubula, Mulanje

The 25 km Porters’ Race is one of Malawi’s most extreme competitions, attracting elite runners from across the world. Participants ascend to Chambe Plateau, about 2,500 metres above sea level, then to Lichenya Plateau and back down to Likhubula in less than three hours.

National Independence Day
When: 6 July
Where: Rotates regionally

This day commemorates Malawi’s independence from the confederation in 1964.


August

Kungoni Open Day
When: First Saturday of the month
Where: Kungoni Arts Centre

Held in memory of Father Jean-Baptiste Champmartin, to whom the museum at Mua is dedicated, this festival brings together drummers, singers and dancers from the surrounding villages.

Umthetho
When: Second Saturday of August
Where: Hora Mountain, Mzimba

Umthetho, which means ‘custom’ or ‘governance’ in Chewa, is celebrated by the Ngoni. It promotes conventional governance, heritage and traditions.

Sand Music Festival
When: Last weekend of the month
Where: Sunbird Livingstonia Beach Hotel

This festival fosters appreciation of the musical arts by introducing quality local, regional and international talents.

Kulamba
When: Last Saturday of the month
Where: Katete, Zambia

Kulamba is a celebration of the Chewa people to pay tribute to Chief Kalonga Gawa Undi through traditional dances and the presentation of gifts.


September

National Tourism Month
When: 1-30 September
Where: Rotates

This celebration aims to create awareness of the importance of tourism as well as its social, cultural, political and economic value. Various local events are held throughout the month.

Gonapamuhanya
When: Last weekend of the month
Where: Bolero, Rumphi

Held by the Tumbukas to celebrate their heritage and Chikulamayembe Dynasty, this ceremony consists of the oral tradition of recounting the Chikulamayembe lineage and dance performances.

Lake of Stars
When: Last weekend of the month
Where: Rotates along the beaches of Lake Malawi

Lake of Stars seeks to promote Malawi’s creative industries, culture and tourism.


October

Blantyre Arts Festival
When: First weekend of the month
Where: Blantyre Cultural Centre

Blantyre Arts Festival celebrates Malawi’s cultural industries through exhibitions and workshops with arts practitioners and cultural exchange programmes.

Unmissable events

Mulhakho Wa Alhomwe
When: Sunday closest to the 25th
Where: Chonde, Mulanje

This festival marks the heritage of the Lhomwe people. It features an array of events including traditional dance performances, recitations of oral traditions and culinary displays.

Likoma Festival
When: Second week of October
Where: Likoma and Chizumulu Islands

The annual Likoma Festival is a contemporary celebration of arts and culture with a strong focus on artists and traditional dances from Malawi.

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