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Seasons and Local Holidays in Kenya

Deciding on when to travel to your next destination is an essential factor when it comes to having the trip of a lifetime, and aspects like seasons and local holidays can affect this, so let us give you an overview of the best time to travel to Kenya, and the local festivities to expect.
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Kenya

Kenya is an incredible country to think about traveling to, but it can all go downhill if you decide to travel at the wrong time, especially in the wrong season. One of the best things to do when planning a trip is to make sure that you know what to expect from the time of year you have decided on, such as the temperature, the rainfall, the chances of spotting animals, and whether or not it is high or low season there. 

As well as this, there may be some local festivities that you wish you knew about beforehand, so it is always beneficial to do some research to make sure you are picking the absolute best time to go to your next destination. Worry not, because we are here to give you an overview of the seasons and local holidays in Kenya so that you can plan accordingly. 

The Seasons in Kenya

If you are looking for ‘The land of eternal African summer,’ you have found it because Kenya, which features the equatorial line running right through the middle, tends to have more regular seasons with minor changes. Nevertheless, it is essential to know what to expect.

Dry Season:

A tree

The dry season in Kenya is between June and October, which is also the coldest months. However, this is the prime time to visit, considering this is when you can witness the Great Wildebeest Migration. Temperatures during this season can range between 23°C/73°F -28°C/82°F, with the warmer temperature being in the coastal region and the lower being at higher altitudes. This is the dry season.

There is an excellent chance of spotting wildlife, mainly the Big 5, which are famous in Kenya since they tend to congregate around a few watering holes, so this is a prime time to travel if spotting wildlife is your goal.

Wet Season:

A baby elephant

There are two wet seasons in Kenya – yes, two, so if you don’t like the rain, you will want to steer clear of these months. The wet season featuring long showers falls between March-May, while the short rains fall between November – and December. At higher altitudes, you will experience temperatures of 24°C/75°F and 27°C/81°F, while on lower altitudes, the temperature will be slightly higher. 

Aside from the wet and dry seasons, the months between December- and March is locally known as the season of intermittent rains. Although it is part of a ‘dry season’ of sorts, however weather patterns in Kenya can be unpredictable, so it is best to be prepared for rain at any time.

If you plan on diving and snorkeling, it is best to avoid the months of May – September on the coast, as this is when the monsoon wind blows strongly and can affect the sea conditions. So, depending on whether you fancy a sun holiday at the beach or prime wildlife viewing, you should consider which time best suits you.

Local Festivities

Lamu Cultural Festival – November

Kenya
Source: https://voyagesafriq.com/2018/11/23/tourists-flock-to-kenyas-coast-as-lamu-cultural-festival-kicks-off/

This annual celebration honors the traditions and beliefs of the Lamu community, who are based along the Lamu archipelago, just 341km/211miles northeast of Mombasa. They are well known for their relaxed and peaceful lifestyle, and this festival is all about them. It is one of the best-attended cultural festivities in all of Kenya. The essence of the festival is to promote and preserve the traditional Swahili way of life, which the Lamu people live by, so if this is something you want to attend, you need to be in Kenya in November, when the three-day festival takes place.

Safaricom International Jazz Festival

Safari com Jazz
Source: https://voyagesafriq.com/2018/11/23/tourists-flock-to-kenyas-coast-as-lamu-cultural-festival-kicks-off/

For anyone who loves good music and is a fan of Jazz, this is a fantastic festival that you should add to your list, featuring some of the world’s most renowned acts, making it one of the biggest jazz festivals in the country. However, one thing is for sure. If you plan to visit this unique festival, you will need to get your tickets in advance, considering the last festival sold out within a few days, so I guess we know that this is one of the best rights?

Rift Valley Music Festival – Late August

Rift Valley Festival
Source: https://lonyikalocal.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/kenya-rift-valley-festival-2013-a-musical-experience-in-the-cradle-of-makind/

This incredible music festival is one not to be missed, especially if you find yourself in this region at the right time. It was set up in 2010 and attracted a wide range of musicians from Kenya and East Africa, but don’t be surprised if you see one or two international artists performing there. The two-day-long international music event, which takes place at Fishermans Camp on the shores of Lake Naivasha in the Rift Valley, features great music performances, kids’ activities, craft stalls, and plenty of food and drink to enjoy.

Nairobi Film Festival - Varies

Nairobi Film Festival
Source: http://www.zedamagazine.com/2019/06/nairobi-film-festival-2019/

For lovers of the arts and film, the Nairobi Film Festival is a must-see when in Kenya, featuring Kenyan filmmakers showcasing their great productions with a mission to bring Kenyan film and art to the world. It aims to redefine the world’s view of Kenyan storytelling, and though these filmmakers know they are up against the likes of Hollywood, they take on the challenge with great might. This is a great chance to see what Kenyan film is all about and makes a great festival to experience, just like the many other International Film Festivals worldwide. 

Lake Turkana Cultural Festival

Kenya
Photo by John McArthur on Unsplash

After the Masai people, the Turkana people are the largest community in Kenya. So it is no wonder they have their festival promoting peace and reconciliation and their culture and heritage. This three-day celebration takes place every August and invites a host of neighboring tribes to attend the festivities, including the tribes of El Molo, Borana, Samburu, and Wata. The celebration is held in the town of Loiyangalani on the southeastern coast of the lake and has been running since 2008. Watch this short video to glimpse the Lake Turkana Cultural Festival.

International Camel Derby & Festival

International Camel Derby & Festival
Source: https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/counties/article/2001295032/thrills-and-spills-as-camel-derby-opens-county-to-visitors

Over three days of entertainment, you will experience various camel races, raced by some of the best international riders out there, cycling and donkey rides, and of course, plenty of food, drink, and other exciting activities to keep you entertained. This annual event is held every year in the northern region of Samburu and draws visitors from all over the globe for great reason. Born in the town of Maralal, which is a true haven for adventure seekers and nomadic cultures, this festival sees the city’s streets turn brightly colored. In contrast, the culture and adventurous spirit draw you in. This has to be one of the best festivals in Kenya and one not to miss out on if you are there at the right time.

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