Several times in the year, Lamu island, off Kenya’s Coast, comes alive with cultural festivals that attract visitors in droves.

There are 7  festivals held annually.
The most popular ones are the Lamu Food Festival, Lamu Arts Festival, Lamu Maulid Festival, Lamu Yoga Festival and the biggest and oldest, the Lamu Cultural Festival.

The Lamu Cultural Festival is one of the best attended community-based cultural festivals in Kenya. The aim is to promote the rich Swahili culture, and open up the archipelago to outsiders.

Lamu Cultural Festival take place in November.
This 3 days festival is meant to give visitors a taste of Swahili life. The activities include dhow sailing races, donkey races, traditional henna paintings, numerous poetry readings, music performances and competitive Bao games.

The “Bao Game” is regarded as one of the oldest games in history with evidence showing that it has been played in the region for thousands of year.

The most unforgettable events of the festival are the dhow race and the donkey races.

These competitions stem from the culture of the Lamu people.

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Donkeys are ubiquitous features of Lamu Island, and the race was one of the highlights of the festival. Riders train for the whole year preparing for the event.

They lined up at the starting point and were flagged off, donkey jockeys urged their animals along as they ran along the streets of Lamu.
Tourists and locals cheered on their favourite riders and donkeys, and even bet on this hilariously entertaining spectacle.

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Being a winning donkey jockey requires a specific set of skills.

As with most such races, small physical stature is helpful, but keeping a stubborn donkey moving and on course requires a definite talent ?

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The dhow race and the swimming competition are another important part of the festival.

These cultural competitions show how living on an Island requires to have different kind of skills.

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Taarab is a music genre popular in Tanzania and Kenya.

Enjoy women performing it during the day untill its end in the Lamu Town square in a big community reunion event.

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Lamu Cultural Festivals are a celebration of both the past and the future, and the beliefs and traditions that are the heart and soul of this community.

Most visitors of the Island fall in love with this relaxed and peaceful lifestyle, and visiting during the Lamu Cultural Festival is a chance to experience Lamu life at its most exuberant and joyous.

Thanks to our copywriter directly from Lamu.

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Shaimaa Mohamed Khalid, a 23 year old Lamu girl. Proud nurse and free time blogger whattpad icon