Festivals and Events
It can only be expected that a country as vibrant and colourful and with as rich a history as Madagascar will have festivals and events to match. Often ceremonies will combine traditional customs and cultures with elements of Christianity, delicately blending the two to achieve a unique and fascinating festival that can be enjoyed by everyone.
This festival celebrates the traditional New Year for the Malagasy people and takes place during the first new moon of the Malagasy New Year, which occurs in March. During this event, people dress up in their favourite lamba, a colourful piece of fabric that is wrapped around the body, and climb to the top of a local hill to engage in singing and dancing. In Antananarivo, people head to the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga to celebrate.
Taking place in May, Zegny Zo
lasts a whole week and is a celebration of arts and culture in all its manifestations. This festival takes the form of a carnival and spectators will be able to see all kinds of performances, including street theatre, parades, painting, puppetry, circus acts and more. The aim of the event is to promote the town of Diego Suarez and to nourish the creative talents of its residents.
Celebrated on Nosy Be, Donia, a week-long festival, transforms this heavenly, tropical island into a cultural hotspot. With live music shows, songwriting competitions, beauty pageants, sporting events and all kinds of other exciting activities, this is one of Madagascar’s hottest events of the year. The main stage at the festival usually sees groups not just from Madagascar but also from Reunion, Mauritius and Comoros who perform a variety of musical genres, including rock, reggae and Creole pop.
On June 26th, the Malagasy people celebrate their independence from French rule, which they were under from 1897 until 1960. After WWII, demands for independence by the natives increased exponentially and despite around 80,000 being slaughtered during uprisings and demonstrations, the pressure continued and eventually the French withdrew. This day is celebrated with a parade by the armed forces, speeches from officials and musical performances.
In case the name didn’t give it a way, Madajazzcar
is a huge jazz festival that takes place in Madagascar every year. Originating in what is now Antananarivo, the festival was the brainchild of three young doctors who had a passion for jazz. Jazz artists from across the country, as well as from the US and Europe, gather in the capital to perform and promote jazz music to the masses.
This unusual festival is all about showing respect for your ancestors and only takes place once every seven years. During the event, which translates as “turning of the bones”, family crypts are opened and corpses are brought out to be wrapped in new silk. The living then dance with the body, play live music and sacrifice animals in honour of the dead, dishing out the meat to all in attendance and creating a lavish feast.