Kenya is rich in traditions, cultures, and belief systems. The population of the nation is made up of various ethnic groups, all of which have preserved their culture and traditions. They proudly show tourists their different celebrations. Color, music, and dances are a few of the key elements. Along with sports, gastronomy is also crucial. How many public holidays in Kenya are there? See the list below.
Due to varying religious views, they observe both major Christian festivals like Christmas and Easter as well as Muslim holidays like Eid. The day of Kenya’s independence, December 12, is one of the major dates because the nation is also rich in history and has a history of British occupation. When visiting, be sure to check out the calendar of Kenya’s holidays and festivals to enjoy the greatest events.
Kenya’s Holiday Statistics
- About 300,000 global visitors spent holidays in Kenya in 2021.
- Other 257,300 arrivals had the purpose of visiting family and friends.
- While 229,800 were related to business and attending meetings, etc.
But where to stay in Kenya to experience it all? Unable to find good hotels on the north coast of Mombasa? Keep reading to know more about one of the best beach hotels in Kenya.
Top 10 Kenya’s Holidays & Festivals
Kenya’s holidays and festival calendar are packed with activities and events, each of which highlights a different aspect of Kenyan culture. Our team of experts can customize your trip to your needs, so if you want to include a festival or two in your itinerary, they can make it happen. We’ve chosen five of our favorite festivals and five best holidays to encourage you to book that trip to Kenya. Searching for events in Mombasa this weekend? Let’s see below.
[Also, Read: Mombasa Travel Guide: Top 10 Communities & Cultures in Kenya]
1. Eid Ul Fitr
Image credit: Andrew
Eid ul Fitr, which falls in May or June, is a big event on the annual calendar because of the 11% of Muslims here. This historic event occurs as the moon appears during the holy month of Ramadan, marking the end of the fast. Muslims observe it by engaging in long days of feasting and socializing with friends and family. In addition, they practice customary cleansing prayers and rituals. It is among Kenya’s holidays that is the most religious.
2. Mashujaa Day
Mashujaa Day, also known as Heroes’ Day, is observed on October 20. It is a national holiday in Kenya in honor of everyone who helped gain its independence and all other heroes of the nation. Before 2010, Mashujaa Day was also known as Kenyatta Day and was observed only in honor of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, and a few other freedom fighters. The Mashujaa Day celebrations take place at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi.
3. Jamhuri Day
Image credit: Paul Kagame/Flickr.
What is Jamhuri day? It is one of Kenya’s holidays that honors both the nation’s independence from Britain in 1963 and its creation as a republic in 1964. The Swahili word “Jamhuri” means “republic” for this holiday, which is celebrated on December 12 every year. The 8 presidents of Kenya each give speeches at this key event. This event offers street parades, dances, fireworks, feasts, and more.
The way in which the birth of Christ is celebrated during the Christmas season in Kenya is similar to other countries, such as church services, nativity plays, carol singing, and feasting. Despite this, goat is traditionally served for Christmas dinner in Kenya, and most Kenyans prefer to use balloons, flowers and leaves to decorate their homes rather than tinsel and lights.
Even though many Kenyan parents do give their kids presents for Christmas, these are usually more useful items like books and clothes for church. Sit up from your sunbathing if you’re near the beach because you just might see Santa delivering presents while riding a camel or on water skis! The locals go all out to have a good time.
Christmas in Kenya is a fantastic time to visit if you’re planning to come in December. Not only will you get to experience the distinctive Kenyan Christmas, but this month also has pleasant weather with little to no rain. It is the best month to visit during Kenya’s holidays.
5. New Year
Along with Christmas and Jamhuri Day in Kenya, Kenyans also observe Utamaduni Day (also known as Boxing Day). It is observed with prayers, social activities, and food in Mombasa. The name “Utamaduni” means “culture”.
Kenyans welcome the new year on December 31 with church services, fireworks, music, and general revelry, just like in other countries. With beach parties and live music, these celebrations last well past dawn and even into New Year’s Day. Stay at north coast Mombasa hotels to enjoy New Year’s Eve.
6. Mombasa Carnival
Image credit: Samuel46/ Naboss Safaris.
Besides Kenya safari and beach, the Mombasa Carnival takes place in November and honors Kenyan culture by hosting a festival in Mombasa by the Indian Ocean. It has a street parade with floats showing the various tribal identities of the nation, but there are other events as well. While stalls offer everything from wood carvings to pirated reggae CDs. There will be shows at the festival by musicians, dancers, East African artists, and tribes as well. Artists from across Kenya join in to make the carnival an inspiring event to show the rich culture of East Africa.
Also, there is plenty of eating, drinking, and dancing for the thousands of visitors to this famous event. Your eardrums will likely be both pierced by sassy Afropop and soothed by age-old religious songs. Attractions in the area include the historic Fort Jesus, which looks out over the harbor. The Rift Valley and Masai Mara National Reserve are located inland. It is one of the best ways to celebrate Kenya’s holidays. There are many north coast hotels in Mombasa. Let’s find out more below.
7. Lamu Festival
In all of East Africa, Lamu has one of the oldest and best-preserved Swahili-speaking tribes. It is also one of the popular Kenya holiday destinations. For more than 700 years, the island has been steadily populated, and it is still a key hub in Eastern Africa. Kenyan people come together each year in November to celebrate the past, present, and the values and customs that are the backbone of this nation during the cultural festival on Lamu island.
The 3-day long festival is held across the historic UNESCO-listed ‘old town’ with stunning alleys and seafront lanes that offer aspects of the local traditions of Kenya. Enjoy dances, crafts, henna art, Swahili dishes, poetry readings, Bao Games, and donkey & dhow races. The festival also offers non-Swahili tribes and visitors a chance to show the world their customs and ways of life. What better way to celebrate Kenya’s holidays and festivals than this? Also, there are thousands of nice places to visit in Mombasa.
8. Lake Turkana Festival
Image credit: Kiboslopes.com
Started in 2008, it is one of the most enticing festivals of Kenya due to its vibrant colors, stunning displays of culture, and unique spirit of joy and goodwill. The purpose of the festival is to foster unity and harmony and celebrate the cultures of the tribes living in the Lake Turkana region in the hope of ending the conflict between the ten tribal groups. The event features unique customs, home life, arts and crafts, costumes, music, and dance of these tribes like Turkana, Samburu, Wata, and more.
When combined with the diverse food options and the amazing views, you have a special 3-day festival that is well worth the trip to Loyangalani town. It is held during the months of May or June each year. Do you even know what a Burji or a Ghabra looks like? Have you ever witnessed them performing their traditional dance and singing? Have you ever had the opportunity to see a Dassanach hut’s living room? Have you ever sampled the cuisine of any of these groups? Where else but at the Lake Turkana Festival in Loiyangalani in Northern Kenya will you ever have the chance to see that?
9. Maralal Camel Derby
Image credit: Samuel46/ Naboss Safaris
Held just outside the Marlal town in Samburu county every year in mid-August, this 3-day long annual event where the streets are always busy with camels, brightly dressed warriors, and traders. Riders and spectators come from all over the world to Maralal for the annual race. Both experts and newbies are competing for first place in this race.
The camel race begins in the middle of the town. It is a flurry of chaos, noise, excitement, and color as some people run backward and others veer off to the side. The expert riders are able to outpace the crowd of onlookers as they approach the finish line. If riding a camel is not your thing, you can also take part in a bike race or a 10 km running race, where you can admire the stunning scenery of Samburu County.
Traditional dances are also being performed in the town, which is like a live cultural show. As locals and visitors interact and share an exciting, action-packed cultural experience, this desert town transforms into a rainbow of colors, noise, and fashion. The Samburu Culture is at its best during this event, so if you happen to be in Kenya at that time, don’t miss it. Or plan your trip around it to enjoy Kenya’s holidays and festivals.
10. Maulidi Festival
Lamu is also famous for the Maulidi festival which marks the birth of Prophet Mohamed. The National Museum of Kenya and religious leaders organize this seven-day festival. The festival attracts tourists and pilgrims from a great distance to Lamu for recitals of poems, music and dances, art exhibits, dhow and donkey races, swimming contests, and finally, a lively parade that winds through the spiral lanes of the town, cheered on by crowds.
A trip to Lamu for Kenya’s holidays and the Maulidi festival is an experience of a lifetime. This tropical island has been inhabited since the 7th century and is enriched with history and culture. The festival is held in June every year as per the Muslim calendar at the Riyadha mosque where Habib Swaleh founded it in 1866. Looking for more Mombasa fun places and things to do?
[Also, Read: A Guide to Holidays at Bamburi Beach- North Coast Mombasa]
Stay in Mombasa to Enjoy Kenya’s Holidays & Festivals
As a TripAdvisor review by Waigwe M from his stay in December 2022 stated, “Very hospitable. From excellent Room service to a dedicated team of Caterers. Juma’s reception was warm and his intentionality of making us feel comfortable was greatly appreciated. Would highly recommend the hotel.”
Located within the pristine Bamburi beach on the north coast of Mombasa, Travellers Beach Hotel is the best 4 star hotel in Kenya, showcasing hospitality at its finest. We provide a wide range of activities and facilities within a relaxed and friendly atmosphere that will make your stay a captivating one. This beach hotel is ideal for Kenya’s holidays, leisure excursions, business travels, or meetings.
Each of the resort’s rooms and suites are furnished with the highest levels of comfort with exquisite sea and garden views and modern amenities like AC, Smart TV, and more. Imagine an urban oasis adjacent to the sprawling swimming pools with swaying coconut trees, a private beach, and the ocean breeze across your private patios and balconies.
Looking for the best Mombasa restaurant or places to eat in Mombasa? Seven dining venues serve a variety of cuisines and cocktails. From traditional Swahili dishes to Indian, Italian, and more, our highly skilled chefs enrich your taste buds with a burst of flavors. The beach hotel has the best restaurants in Mombasa. Go for an amazing buffet at the Safina Restaurant, relish in the diverse Indian cuisine at Sher e Punjab (one of the top Indian restaurants in Mombasa), or try a delicious menu of fresh seafood in Mombasa by the poolside at the Suli Suli Grill (one of the best seafood restaurants in Mombasa). And if you want a mouth-watering pizza or pasta, enjoy Italian cuisine at La Pergola.
[Also, Read: Mombasa’s Greatest Food Experiences & Where to Find Them]
It doesn’t stop here, if you want to listen to the calming waves crashing the shore and sip on your favorite cocktails, you better head to the Pwani Kofi Bar. What’s more? Set in the main lounge, the Msafiri Bar sets the mood with a live band & Karaoke in the evenings. One of these places offers regular traditional African shows and local cabarets as well. We also offer 24-hour in-room dining service in your own private cocoon.
The resort boasts a state-of-the-art spa and style studio, 3 swimming pools, a kids’ club, the best gym in Mombasa, and many fun activities for the sake of adventure. Are you finding the best water sports in Mombasa? Explore the hidden treasures and beauty of the coral reef with deep-sea diving, skiing, windsurfing, glass-bottom boat trips, banana boat, paddle boat, canoeing, kayaking, and snorkeling in Mombasa.
Play beach volleyball and water polo, or just enjoy nature and its bounties. Are you more of an indoor person? You could play foosball and snooker in the hotel, engage in a game of squash at the tennis court, shoot darts or read a few books while taking in the stunning views.
Cannot find meeting rooms in Mombasa? From board rooms to event venues in Kenya, we provide spaces that are perfect for a big fat wedding, a private party, or a conference with impeccable service and modern tech. Many of the main attractions are within a short distance, like the airport, Wild Waters in Mombasa, Mamba Village, City Mall, and more. Travellers Beach Hotel provides guests with the perfect place to explore the beauty and charm of the coastal city of Kenya.
Celebrate Kenya’s Holidays & Festivals with Us!
Holidays in Mombasa Kenya are one-of-a-kind. Kenya’s holidays and festivals are the best time for people to come together. The majority of Kenyan festivals involve outdoor dining and leisure due to the best climate. The feasts include grilled barbecue meats and a wide variety of side dishes. The dancing and singing may go on for hours during the celebrations, which is a huge passion among the people.
Planning for Kenya holidays 2023? Looking for the best resort in Mombasa? While you are staying at the best beach hotel in Mombasa, enjoy the holidays and festivals here like the Mombasa Carnival, Christmas, New Year, and more. There are special events going on during the holidays at Travellers Beach Hotel as well. Want Mombasa beach hotel contacts? Contact us to book a hotel room or suite and join in the festive spirit.