It’s the end of the year. Festival time! For some odd reason, the Sahara likes to cram its festivals on top of one another, back to back, at the coldest time of the year. Make sure you bring a warm coat and mittens. Many of the festivals have important cultural and social objectives — see the attached links for more information. Hopefully this year will find a good amount of foreign visitors, not scared of by a few unfortunate but isolated security incidents. But as a friend told me: “We don’t need tourists to have a good time.” The party continues as planned.
Fete du Chameau (Camel Festival)
Tessalit, Kidal Circle, Mali
December 29th, 30th, and 31st, 2009
A lesser known festival, probably due it’s locality (deep in Azawad, near the Algerian border). Expect camel races and music from Tinariwen.
The Saharan Nights of Essouk
Essouk, Kidal Circle, Mali
January 2nd, 3rd and 4th, 2010
“The Essouk festival is a three-day celebration of music and culture, aimed largely at a local audience of nomads, but also at festivalgoers from other parts of Mali, Africa and the world.”
*due to financial reasons, this has been shifted to Feb. or March – stay tuned.*
Festival au Desert
Essakane, Timbouctou Circle, Mali
January 7th, 8th, 9th
The large and well known international festival, hosting over 30 music groups. Everyone who’s anyone from Mali and W. Africa — Tinariwen, Amadou and Mariam, Afel Boucoum, Vivian N’dour, Dimi Mint Abba — and quite a few from abroad as well. A special anniversary, celebrating its 10th year.
Bourem, Gao Circle, Mali
January 12th, 13th, and 14th 2010
A new festival, in its debut year. A long list of artists, both Tamashek and Songhai, including Etran Finatawa, Tamikrest, Kanna, Atia, Douma, Amanar, and Azawagh.