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The seasons and local holidays in Tanzania

Tanzania is one fascinating place to visit, but if you stay at the wrong time, it can impact your trip, so here is a look at the seasons of Tanzania, as well as the local festivities, which can make your trip a hassle-free and a truly memorable one.
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Tanzania

There is so much to see and do in Tanzania that you will most likely need more time than you first anticipated, and this is a positive aspect of traveling to this diverse country, however one of the main things you should research when traveling there is the weather, the best season to travel in and of course the local festivities which you should not miss out on.

Considering many of the highlights of this incredible travel destination are outdoor, including the various famous National Parks, Mt Kilimanjaro, the tropical beaches of Zanzibar, and all the activities that go hand in hand, it is essential always to check the best time to travel, which suits your needs and expectations. With that being said, one of the best ways to get an authentic cultural experience is to get involved in some of the local festivities which happen during the year. So if this is something you are interested in doing, you might want to make sure you are there at the right time. 

Getting in touch with a ‘Tanzania Destination Expert’ who has valuable knowledge on these topics can ensure that you don’t miss any of the local and regional festivities. Plus, you will get some invaluable tips and tricks, so what are you waiting for? Many of us have had those trips where we wished in hindsight that we had done more research, and if you have a trip of a lifetime to Tanzania coming up, knowing these things will make a massive difference to how enjoyable your trip is. So let us give you an overview of the principal seasons and local festivities of Tanzania and the best times to travel to this beautiful country.

Seasons in Tanzania

When looking at a map, you may notice that Tanzania is relatively close to the equator, which has a significant impact on the seasons and weather there. There are two main seasons in the country, which we will explain a bit about, and depending on what you plan to do with your time, one of these seasons may suit you best, so let’s take a look:

Rainy Season:

Rhino

March/April/May is when the most rainfall happens in Tanzania, although this can vary from region to region, so make sure to research where you plan to go. You can expect heavy afternoon rainfall, high humidity, and hot temperatures. If you find yourself mainly along the coast during the rainy season, you can expect the rain to be more predictable, but still, it might not be enjoyable to be rained on while sunbathing. 

It is worth noting that there is a second rainy season around November/December time. Although the rains are shorter and less heavy than in the primary rainy season, they still occur and should be expected anytime.

Dry Season:

Deers

June-October, is when the dry season happens in Tanzania, and this tends to be the peak season for traveling. You can expect little or no rain, high temperatures, clear skies, and sunny weather.

January and February are generally Tanzania’s short dry season, and this can also be an excellent time to visit before the real rainy season kicks in again in March. 

Best time to travel

Buffalos

If you visit Tanzania for outdoor activities, which many people are, it is best to travel between June and October, when the skies are clear, and the weather is dry enough to do what you have planned without worrying about rain. The wildlife viewing is generally the best at this time of year, too, because many animals gather around fewer watering holes and can be easier to spot, so if you are planning to tick the Big Five off your bucket list, then this is the time to visit. 

The wildebeest migration draws many people to Tanzania each year, but this fantastic natural event happens throughout the year if you know where to look. Of course, it is worth checking each region for the seasons to avoid any unwanted surprises.

Local Festivities

When it comes to getting involved in the local festivities, it can be done at various times of the year, so it is worth looking at the main holidays and the most exciting celebrations, which coincide with your trip. Here are a few of Tanzania’s main festivities to look out for:

Mwaka Kogwa:

Tanzania
Source: https://face2faceafrica.com/article/mwaka-kogwa-the-tanzanian-festival-where-men-fight-to-settle-grudges-as-women-sing-seductive-songs | Photo: Msada's Blog

This four-day celebration happens mainly in the south of Zanzibar Island, marks the beginning of the Persian New Year, and is held around the third week of July. You can expect a fairground feel here, with lots of activities, including mock fighting and the burning of thatched huts made especially for the festival. You may also get to witness some of the traditional rituals made to bring good fortune and luck into the new year, and it is a grand celebration to be a part of in Tanzania.

Festival of the Dhow Countries:

Festival of the Dhow Countries
Soruce: https://filmfreeway.com/ZanzibarInternationalFilmFestival/photos

Otherwise known as the Zanzibar International Film Festival, this is an annual event that is, in fact, the most significant cultural event in all of East Africa and is well worth a visit if you are here at the right time. Like many other festivals of its kind around the world, you can expect to see various types of films, international music and performing arts too, so if this is your thing you cannot miss out! 

Eid-al-Haj:

Eid-Al-Haj

This is a public holiday in Tanzania and is the most important of all Islamic Festivals. It comprises animal sacrifices, family gatherings, big feasts, and reflection, all celebrated by Muslims worldwide. Still, for Tanzania, it is mainly Zanzibar and along the country’s coast. The celebration happens at different times each year, depending on the Gregorian calendar, so check in advance for the year you are visiting.

Serengeti Cultural Festival:

A man smiling
SONY DSC

If you fancy enjoying a cultural event in Tanzania, you should not miss the Serengeti Cultural Festival, which happens in the third week of July in Mgumu town in western Tanzania. It is a traditional art and dance festival, one of the country’s top cultural festivals, and features many East African traditions, culture, and art. 

Here is a quick video by Tanzania Tourism to give you a little insight into what this grand festival is all about.

Karibu Travel and Tourism Fair:

Karibu Travel and Tourism Fair
Source: https://www.tanzaniatourism.go.tz/en/things-to-do/karibu-travel-and-trade-fair

This travel and tourism fair is held in Arusha every May and promotes various companies based in the region of Kilimanjaro. The festival began around 16 years ago, and since then, it has had massive success with the development of tourism in the area. It is a great event to visit, learn more about local companies, and get some local knowledge and insights into the travel industry in the area. 

Bullfighting on Pemba Island:

zanzibar bullfighting on pemba island
Source: https://rove.me/to/zanzibar/bullfighting-on-pemba-island | photo by © Marc Weinberg

Yes, you read it right; bullfighting exists in Tanzania and is an event that happens explicitly on the island of Pemba due to its history of Portuguese occupation. Unlike in European bullfights, there is no harm done to the bulls in this setting. The owners treat the animals with great respect, and the event makes for a great experience. It is held throughout the year, although the best time is during the hot season between August and February.

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