From films to fahsion and gorillas to guitars, Rwanda has a festival for all tastes.
Whatever you’re into, coordinating a trip to Rwanda with one of our award-winning festivals is the cherry on top of any trip to the land of a thousand hills. Most festivals fall in the northern summer months, and there’s an event for everyone! Whether you want to catch some of the biggest names in African music at KigaliUP, freshen up your wardrobe at either of our two fashion festivals, see a film at ‘Hillywood’, dance at the Hobe Rwanda Festival, or celebrate our world-famous gorillas, natural wonders and conservation successes at Kwita Izina, it’s all right here.
Better known as ‘Hillywood’, the Rwanda Film Festival has been bringing films from around Rwanda, Africa, and the world to Kigali every July for more than 10 years now. While the festival is based in Kigali, they also take the show on the road to villages and towns across Rwanda, where they screen films and hold workshops for the public with their own pop-up cinema.
Since it launched in 2011, KigaliUP has rapidly become Rwanda’s premiere music festival, and one of the finest in East Africa. Every year, usually during the northern summer months, they bring local and international reggae, blues, hip-hop, and pop acts to Kigali, where they thrill their equally international audience with sounds from around the world. Thousands of fans attend every year, but it’s still an intimate, personal affair, and you’re likely to catch the same people who were rocking on stage the night before giving fans a drum lesson the next morning.
Though it’s only a few years old, the Hobe Rwanda Festival has become a much-loved fixture on Kigali’s cultural calendar since it first began here in 2013. With a keen focus on Rwandan culture, Hobe promotes local musicians, artists, and dancers with a two-day fest that usually goes on in September. International artist’s are represented here too, but if it’s a slice of real-life Rwandan creativity you want, Hobe is the place to be.
Though it would have been a pipe dream some years ago, today Kigali is cosmopolitan enough to host not one, but two fashion festivals every year, and for fashionistas and those on the cutting edge of style, they offer a fantastic opportunity to see the cultural fusion of western and Rwandan styles that the country’s finest designers negotiate and create daily. Kigali Fashion Week (www.kigalifashionweeks.com) takes place every July, and hosts dozens of international, local, and upcoming young designers, while the Rwanda Cultural Fashion Week (www.rwandaculturefashionweek.com) showcases even more local and international talent every September.
If you’re looking to get out of the big city and back into nature, the annual Kwita Izina gorilla-naming ceremony is a special time to visit Volcanoes National Park. The annual naming ceremony takes place in Kinigi, but visitors can also join a several-day guided tour from Kigali running up to the main event, where they’ll get to meet the park staff and leading conservationists, attend cultural evenings and a celebration in Musanze, tour the little-visited lakes Burero and Ruhondo, and finally attend the naming ceremony, where there’s music, dancing, and discussion on the Rwanda’s great strides that have been made in gorilla conservation, and the great challenges that remain. Dates vary, so check with the RDB to make your reservation. (www.rdb.rw/kwitizina)