African Music Culture

Electifying African Festivals Worth Travelling to in May

MTN Bushfire Festival
Written by Abraham Odhiambo

There are countless reasons to visit African countries, but the continent’s endless array of festivals and celebrations in May 2023 are the most alluring. From South Africa to Morocco and Swaziland to Mozambique, there are major festivals happening this month.

With more than 3,000 ethnic groups, be ready to be exposed and experience cultural diversity at its best in the African continent. African festivals are so special and deep-rooted such that you can’t plan a trip to this magical place and not attend one of the several hundreds to choose from. If you’re not sure which festivals to attend, here are three African celebrations worth travelling for in May 2023.

1. MTN Bushfire Festival

MTN Bushfire Festival

MTN Bushfire Festival is held each year in North West Eswatini. Photo/ Swaziland News.

MTN Bushfire Festival is Eswatini’s internationally acclaimed music & arts festival that celebrates creative expression whilst promoting social responsibility. This festival, which has been drawing talent and tourists from across Africa and around the world, is worth travelling for.

Born in 2006, MTN Bushfire Festival has a well-deserved reputation for its visionary approach. CNN has lauded it as one of the ‘7 African music festivals you really have to see’ whilst BBC recently named it as ‘Top African Festival’. About 20,000 people travel to the scenic Malkerns Valley every year to experience an eclectic Pan-African and international line-up of live music, dance, theatre, film, poetry, circus and visual arts.

This  Festivl is one of the African festivals that you can’t miss in May 2023. This year’s edition will run from the 26th-28th.

2. Azgo Festival

To begin with, ‘Azgo’ is a Maputo slang which means ‘Let’s go’. Azgo Festival is a celebration of arts and culture hosted in the marvellous city of Maputo in Mozambique. The festival, which serves as a platform for emerging and acclaimed artists, brings together a diverse and quality program of music, film and dance.

It is organised by Khuzula Productions and is part of the African Music Festival Network. Since its inception in 2011, this festival has hosted various artists from Senegal, Cape Verde, Swaziland, South Africa, Angola, New Zealand, Portugal and Mozambique itself.

Running for two days, Azgo has been of great importance to the locals over the years as it creates business opportunities and a range of fun educational activities. It also enhances social responsibility by donating a portion of its proceeds to support children. This is one of the must-attend African festivals in May 2023.

3. Zakifo Musik Festival 

At the moment, there are no events planned for Zakifo Musik festival. However, it is one festival that promises a wide-ranging line-up of cutting-edge musicians from across the African continent and beyond hence worth attending.

Zakifo Musik Festival is an eclectic live music event which connects Africa with the Indian Ocean Islands, Australia, India, Europe and beyond. The festival, which was started by Jerome Galabert, Andy Davis and Sipho Sithole, is a member of Igoda, a music festival circuit.

4. Bassline Africa Day concert

Bassline Fest 2023 is one of the highly anticipated African festivals set to take place in May. The festival, which will be on May 20, is set to be a day of music and celebration of African humanity, resilience, and the overall incredible creativity and talent of the continent.

Some of the artists who will be performing at Bassline Africa Day Concert include Sjava, techno-punk act Scurru Fitchada, DBN Gogo, Simmy afro-futuristic act Afrotronix, and dance hall act Fayazer from Reunion Island, among others.


Sjava will be performing at Bassline Africa Day Concert this month. Photo/ ZAlebs.

What is the Largest Festival in Africa? 

National Arts Festival is the largest annual African cultural event and celebration. It takes place from June to July in Grahamstown, South Africa annually. This extravaganza sees the normally quiet street of Grahamstown transform into a hive of colorful activity attracting local and international stars.

How do Africans Celebrate? 

African traditions and celebrations are expressed through many different art forms such as music, dance, sculpture, art and beadwork. These traditions are deeply ingrained into the whole African culture and you’ll see them in May festivals 2023.

What Holiday is Celebrated in Africa? 

Africa Day is celebrated every year on 25 May to commemorate the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity. It is an opportunity to celebrate African diversity and success as well as highlight the cultural and economic potential that exists on the African continent.

Several holidays in Africa are generally celebrated worldwide. These include:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Easter Monday
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day
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About the author

Abraham Odhiambo

Abraham Odhiambo is a writer with interests in nature, travel, African safari and sports. I'm pursuing a bachelor's degree in Media and Communication at Egerton University.

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