Exploring the major Holidays and Festivals of Senegal
A Look At Senegal’s Biggest Annual Holidays & Festivities
Senegal is famous for being a land of music and art, something that many of the holidays and festivals celebrated there are largely focused on. Artists and musicians from all over Senegal commonly use these opportunities to showcase their talent, to each other, and to the world.
Senegal Independence Day
Otherwise called “Independance Du Senegal” or “National Day”, every year Senegal celebrates its independence from France and the Federation of Mali. Although the country officially became independent on August 20th 1960, the transfer of power agreement, however, was signed earlier that year on April 4th. The latter is therefore deemed to mark the true beginning of their independence and is celebrated across the country with great festivities. In Dakar, the capital and largest city of Senegal, colourful parades and marching bands are common out on the streets, amongst much dancing, singing, and jubilant celebration.
The Abéné Festivalo, held for 8-10 days over New Year, is another highly popular festival in Senegal. Musicians from around the country, particularly djembe players and percussionists, flock to the town of Abéné to play at the festival’s main event. Visitors can enjoy non-stop music and dancing, as well as watch exciting Senegalese wrestling matches. The festival is also known for attracting artists and performers from across West Africa, and sometimes even Europe.
Held in May, the festival of Dak’Art Biennale is well-known for being an annual showcase of Senegal’s most talented artists. It also attracts artists and art-lovers from far and wide, coming to see the beautiful paintings, sculptures, and other incredible works of Senegalese art.
St Louis Jazz Festival
Also in May, one of the largest jazz festivals in Africa is held in St. Louis, Senegal. Here, no fewer than 30 artists get to perform alongside jazz legends like Herbie Hancock, Zainul, and more. Over time, the event has grown to include other musical genres like soul, blues, and even hip hop. One of the most well-loved features of the festival though, are the jazz-infused Senegal River boat cruises.
The Kaay Fecc festival is an important cultural celebration of traditional and contemporary dance, held each year in Dakar, between late May and early June.
Gorée Diaspora Festival
Established to strengthen the bonds between Senegal and descendants of Senegalese slaves taken from the island of Gorée, the Gorée Diaspora Festival is an emotional annual artistic rediscovery of Senegalese culture and tradition. It is commonly held over November and December.
Festival International du Film de Quartier
In December each year, Dakar hosts Senegal’s biggest film festival. Here up-and-coming filmmakers from all over Senegal meet to showcase their work. Over time it has also become a popular day of entertainment for the people, and visitors travelling to the country looking for taste of Senegalese film that’s as entertaining as the sports betting NZ offers.
Something For Everyone
Although the world-famous Paris-Dakar Rally is no longer being held in the country since 2019, Senegal has no shortage of exciting events and festivities to explore and experience. With an incredible landscape, people, art, music, and culture, Senegal is one of the top places in Africa to visit, and indeed, the world.