Events in Kenya in 2016

by Annabel Jenkins on 05 February 2016, 14:02PM

Incandescent hues of red, orange and yellow fill the sky, silhouetting the giraffes, birds and acacia trees as the sun descends on the Serengeti. This iconic image is what has become emblematic of Kenya, safaris and Africa as a whole. While sunsets here make for incredible photographs, no picture can truly capture the majestic beauty and rewarding experience of watching some of the world’s most revered animals in their natural habitat. However, there is mo much more that Kenya has to offer visitors. Here we look at some of the fantastic events that are taking place throughout 2016.

Lake Turkana Festival: 19th to 21st May 2016
Proposed by the local community of Loiyangalani, Kenya back in 2008, the Lake Turkana Festival has become an important festival on Kenya’s events calendar. The annual festival features unique performances and demonstrations by ten ethnic communities which live in the Lake Turkana region: El Molo, Rendille, Samburu, Turkana, Dassanach, Ghabra, Borana, Konso, Wata and Burji. For Kenyans and visitors alike, the presentation of the customs of the ten tribes, their spectacular traditional costumes, arts and crafts, dances and music is a fascinating experience in particular in light of the stunning geographical characteristics and the limited general knowledge about the Lake Turkana region. At over 250km in length, Lake Turkana is truly one of the natural wonders of the world. As the festival goes from strength the strength the organisers look forward to welcoming more visitors to the region and showcasing the cultures and practices of its people. 

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The Wildebeest Migration: July - October 2016
The thrilling wildebeest migration takes place from July to October each year.  With over 1.5 million wildebeest and zebra on the run for the green pastures of the Maasai Mara, it is one of Kenya’s most dramatic and memorable safari experiences. Wildebeest can be heard for miles away as they thunder over the Kenyan border towards freshly grown and nutritious lands. Zebra are swept up in the flow, peppering the herds with colour as they head towards the mighty Mara River. Visitors watch in awe as the river banks swell and burst with wildebeest as they storm down into the water, certainly a sight not to be missed!

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Maralal Camel Derby: August 2016
Held annually in the northern region of Maralal, this is Africa’s most well-known camel race and is attended by enthusiasts from across the world. The event offers a fusion of colours, cultures and marvellous animals. The derby spans three days and attendees can either stay in tented camps in Maralal or at the famous five-star Maralal Safari Lodge. The course is 42km long and passes through the Maralal Township and surrounding desert landscape. The event is sponsored by KTB with a focus on the theme of ‘environmental conservation’. The KTB has identified this event as one of the key platforms that will showcase Kenya’s unexplored tourism products not only in Samburu county but also the northern tourism circuit.

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Rift Valley Music Festival: 2nd to 4th September 2016
This music festival is an intimate gathering of local and international artists, combining traditional African roots and global styles and providing a stage for established as well as developing talent. The event is also an opportunity to showcase the local arts, crafts and culture of the Rift Valley. The line-up includes local Kenyan bands as well as UK artists. In 2014 the festival will be in its fifth year and organisers are keen to make the event a popular highlight on the Kenyan calendar.

Storymoja Festival: September 2016
The Storymoja Festival, held each year in Nairobi, is a platform to showcase and discover local talent while providing an opportunity for interaction with international talent. The festival started out in 2007 as a Nyama Choma Fiesta with a small gathering of 300 people and has grown to become a vibrant gathering of the greatest minds in Kenya and beyond, celebrating ideas and culture. The festival offers activities and events to cater for all age groups. Books are brought to life through poetry and storytelling, attendants can get to know local and international artists, enjoy music, workshops, film and much more. In addition, topical issues such as health, careers, politics, technology, human rights, environment entrepreneurship and youth empowerment are presented in very interactive and stimulating sessions. Regional festivals also take place in various parts of the country.

Jamhuri Day: 12th December 2016
Jamhuri Day is Kenya's most important holiday marking Kenya’s independence from the United Kingdom as declared on 12th December 1963 with feasting, dancing, parades and colourful air shows. Kenyans love to celebrate with food, so Jamhuri Day is a good chance to try local delicacies including Ugali (ground maize, flour and water) and fish, Githeri (boiled maize and beans), Mursik (fermented milk) and Ingoho (a traditional chicken dish). Visitors will be in for a treat as they witness Kenya at its best as Kenyans from different tribes and generations across the country come together to celebrate this anniversary. 

SPORTS EVENTS:

Rhino Charge: 30th May 2016
Rattling through the African wilderness is ‘Rhino Charge’, an annual 4WD fundraising race held in the bush approximately eight hours from Nairobi. The adrenalin-packed competition raises money for Rhino Ark, which plays a large part in the protection of Kenya's Aberdare National Park, a sanctuary for the endangered Black Rhino and many other rare species which are being threatened by deforestation. Rhino Charge has become a sporting event in its own right, and competitors come from all over the world to battle it out to raise the most money and become the ultimate champion.

Safaricom Marathon & Half Marathon, Lewa: 25th June 2016 
There are few more extraordinary places in the world to run a marathon than a wildlife reserve in Kenya. Participants in the 17th Safaricom Marathon and Half Marathon in 2016 will share the running route with giraffe, zebra and even elephants in beautiful open savannah. Organised by Tusk and supported by Safaricom, this fundraising event hosts over 1,000 runners from 20 different countries and is regarded as one of the toughest marathons in the world. Runners of all abilities take part including Paul Tergat, the Kenyan former world record holder. The marathon’s backdrop includes some of East Africa’s most beautiful scenery. The 2015 event on June 27th attracted over 1,400 runners from 20 countries including the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister, Pippa Middleton.

Mount Kenya Extreme Sports Challenge: 24th July 2016
Meru County in the centre of Kenya is fast gaining a reputation as a mecca for extreme sports thrill-seekers.  The annual Mount Kenya Extreme Sports Challenge takes place in Kenya each June and attracts hundreds of participants, local and international, keen to challenge themselves in the wilderness of Mount Kenya. Extreme adventure activities include rock climbing and abseiling, orienteering, high ropes and obstacle crossings, and treasure hunts. A particular highlight is the bush race in which local athletes from as far as Iten in western Kenya compete.

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Cycle with the Rhino: 17th September 2016 
Located in Lake Nakuru National Park, Cycle with the Rhino is an annual fund-raising initiative by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). The main aim is to restore the 74km electric fence, which is key in providing a successful rhino breeding sanctuary while protecting this internationally renowned bird watcher’s paradise famous for its 1.5 million flamingos.  The funds are also used to carry out CSR projects for various communities around the park, promoting community conservation education around Lake Nakuru National Park. Activities include a cycling race, game viewings and children’s activities. Each participant receives a certificate and additional cash prizes are up for grabs.

Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon: October 2016
The Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon attracts thousands of participants each year. From humble beginnings back in 2003 with 4,000 participants to its current participation of 21,000 runners, the Nairobi marathon has achieved its goal in becoming a key event in the Kenyan athletics calendar. The marathon brings runners and supporters from all over the world to Nairobi, the beautiful capital city of Kenya, a country home to some of the greatest distance runners in the world.

Maasai Olympics: December 2016
The Big Life Foundation’s Maasai Olympics will take place in December 2016 in the Kimana Wildlife Sanctuary (now renamed the Sidai Oleng Wildlife Sanctuary) in Kajiado County, Kenya.  This cultural sporting event sees the Maasai warrior generation of the entire Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem compete for medals and prizes. Prizes include a premier breeding bull for the winning village (manyatta), student scholarships and a sponsored trip for two winning runners to compete in the New York Marathon. The event, organised by the Big Life Foundation, is sponsored by the National Geographic Society, the UK’s Chester Zoo as well as the African Wildlife Foundation, InterActions & Solidarity (Monaco), Charles Tate (USA), and the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust.

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