Festivals and Events
When you think of Namibia, images of safaris and the big 5 probably come to mind, but there is a lot more to this exciting country than its wildlife. Festivals are an important part of the Namibian calendar and throughout the year there are a number of carnivals, sporting events and general merry-making activities. While many of Namibia’s festivals have colonial origins, they have almost all been adapted and modified to give them a distinct African flavour.
Liberated from South African rule in 1990, Namibia celebrates its freedom every year with festivities all over the country, the most impressive of which can be found in Windhoek, the capital. A military parade passes through the city and is accompanied by sporting events, live music and general excitement. Independence Day is a national holiday and most businesses close for the day.
By far the biggest cultural event in the Namibian calendar, the Windhoek Carnival, popularly referred to as WIKA, sees thousands of attendees from all over the country and beyond. Main features of the event include dance and music performances, street parades, a masked ball and, holding true to its Germanic roots, plenty of beer to quaff throughout the day. Meanwhile, the crowning of the new prince and princess of the carnival takes place and the new royals are symbolically charged with the fate of the city.
A national holiday, Heroes Day pays tribute to the soldiers that gave their lives to fight for independence from South Africa. The day usually sees hundreds of people gather at important battle zones to commemorate veterans of the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) and to watch current military leaders give out medals to valiant soldiers. In honour of the fallen, a war memorial called Heroes’ Acre was established just outside Windhoek.
Yet another remnant of the German occupation of Namibia, this carnival takes place in the beautiful coastal town of Swakopmund. Activities include feasting on traditional bratwurst, gallons of beer and generous helpings of sauerkraut from street food vendors and taking part in the parades. Festivities start during the day and carry on through the night as people continue to make merry until the sun comes back up.
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Believe it or not, Germany is not the only place where you can spend weeks on end swigging from steins of beer whilst flaunting a dirndl or lederhosen. One of the better relics of colonial rule, every year Namibia’s capital city erupts into beer and sausage-induced mayhem as they celebrate one of Germany’s best-loved traditions. Delicious local Namibian beers and a range of German delicacies will be on offer and there will plenty of games and events to take part in.
This is an event like no other that involves intrepid runners from around the world travelling to the Namibian desert for a gruelling 250km race. The course runs through the harsh Namib desert, over sand dunes and past mountains, all the while runners must carry everything they need for survival such as a tent, sleeping bag, food and water. With temperatures regularly in the mid 30s, this is certainly not for the faint-hearted.