Among the many events in Africa; festivals occupy a prominent position, ranging from religious to cultural to musical. Among the most prominent and popular African festivals are Fespaco African Film Festival, African Arts Festival, Aboakyir Festival, Panafest, the Homowo Festival, International Camel Derby & Festival and the Lake of Stars Festival. However festivals and events in Africa may vary depending on which part of the country you are in. Different holidays are observed by different African tribes.
Some events in Africa are held throughout the continent. To these belong the Fespaco African Film Festival, regarded as the largest film festival in Africa and attended by more than 40,000 people. The next edition of the festival will take place in March 2007 on the main stadium in the capital city Ouagadougou.
Seen as a festival of African music, dance and other arts, Panafest is one of the bi-annual events in Africa, and celebrated every two years in Ghana. The mission of the festival is to enhance the cultural development of the African continent.
Meanwhile, the origin of the Homowo Festival is related to the ancient migration of the Ga tribe to Ghana. Homowo means "to make fun of hunger" and reflects the joy of the Ga tribe surviving a famine.
It should be mentioned that carnivals play a significant part in the cultural life of the African continent. Each year, the week-long carnival in Bouake attracts thousands of visitors, who observe this festival which takes place in the beginning of April. One of the most famous carnivals is the Fetes des Masques, which occurs each November in the region of Man. Numerous contests are held to determine the best dancers and to show respect to the spirits embodied in the masks. Held in April, Fete du Dipri Festival starts around midnight and continues until afternoon of the next day.
Some events in Africa are celebrated by people of specific regions, like Aboakyir Festival, which marks the migration of the people of Simpra from the ancient Western Sudan Empire to the Central Region of Ghana. Anlo Ewes of the Volta Region observe the Hogbetsotso Festival, known as the Festival of Exodus and held on the first Sunday of November annually to commemorate the Anlo Ewes' escape from the despotic rules of Notsie-Akogoli of Togo.
New Year and Christmas are seen as the greatest events in Africa. New Year's Day in the Cape Province is full of a carnival-like atmosphere due to a large number of people dancing in the streets dressed in colorful costumes. The Mandingo tribe of Sierra Leone celebrates the New Year's Day at the seed-sowing time, which puts an end to the dry season. Water - bringing new life - is regarded as the turn of a new year for the Mandingo tribe.
Due to the penetration of Western culture into African, many African tribes have adopted the ideas of the settlers and made them part of their lifestyle. Thus Christmas is now considered one of the celebrated events in Africa. Native Africans have the tradition to exchange gifts on Christmas day. The festival resembles a carnival with a week of feasting, dancing and singing. Christmas in South Africa is a summer holiday, when people go to rivers and mountains and children sing carols and put out stockings for Father Christmas.