Events

14 Best Festivals and Events in Malawi

14 Best Festivals and Events in Malawi

Festivals in Malawi have become an integral part of social life.

They are a great way to interact with peers and network.

They are also an excellent opportunity for small businesses to thrive since most festivals have stalls where people can sell various items.

In recent years, new festivals have emerged in Malawi drawing the attention of thousands of attendants.

Meanwhile, older festivals have also revamped their activities to attract more people.

We took some time to talk to the organizers of these festivals occur, their venues, entrance fees and more in this article.

Music Festivals

1. Tumaini Festival – Dzaleka Refugee Camp

Number of People Attended Last Event 30,000
Date of Event First Weekend of November
Entrance Fee Free Entry

Founded by Menes La Plume, the Tumaini Festival was established in 2014 and takes place at Dzaleka Refugee Camp.

The Festival aims at promoting peaceful coexistence between refugees and the host community, promoting mutual understanding and intercultural harmony through the use of entertainment, artistic and cultural expression.

It is an extraordinary example of a large-scale cultural event within a refugee camp, created and run by refugees in collaboration with the host community, for the benefit of both communities.

Across the seven previous editions over 129,000 people have attended the event, and 304 performing acts from across Malawi, Africa and the world shared the same stages with performers from Dzaleka.

Tumaini Festival represents a unique opportunity for refugees to share aspects of their lives with interested visitors, to exhibit and sell their crafts and to feel the hope of connecting to a wider community.

Tumaini Festival has become a community celebration that residents of Dzaleka appreciate as their own event.

Tumaini Festival at Dzaleka Refugee Camp, DowaTumaini Festival About Tumaini Festival Number of People A...

2. Ufulu Festival – Lilongwe

Number of People Attended Last Event 16,000
Date of Event 6 July (Independence Day)
Entrance Fee Free Entry

The Ufulu Festival is a free community event and festival organized by Flood Church Malawi.

The festival which was founded in 2014 is held every 6 July to commemorate Malawi’s independence.

It provides an opportunity for the youth to celebrate and reflect on the country’s history while looking forward to the future.

Additionally, the Ufulu Festival celebrates culture, creativity and freedom through music, dance and poetry.

It is an environment of awareness and response to the gospel, mental health and social justice.

It is also a great opportunity for artists to showcase their work while honouring Malawi.

The Ufulu Festival which is held annually attracted over 16,000 people in 2019.

In 2020, the festival did not take place due to COVID but it returned in 2021 although this was online, a first of its kind.

For the 2022 festival, there were 3 stages showcasing different forms of art as well as a children’s area.

Ufulu Festival at CIVO Stadium, LilongweUfulu Festival About Ufulu Festival Number of People Atten...

3. Sand Music Festival

Number of People Attended Last Event 7,322
Date of Event September to October
Entrance Fee MK35,000 (in 2022)

Established in 2010, the Sand Music Festival which is organized by Impakt Events is Malawi’s hallmark event that draws together tourists, local people, businesses, youth, media and visitors from all over the world.

The festival takes place on an annual basis to unify local and international artists for the celebration of music amongst patrons and the promotion of tourism in Malawi.

Since its inception, the Sand Music Festival has grown in visitor numbers and now counts as one of the largest events in Malawi.

The 2021 Sand Music Festival attracted 5,000 patrons, establishing it as one of the most visible event brands in Malawi.

It boasts of both local and international imprint.

The fete has gained its place as an international festival looking at the number of patrons and artists trickling in from the entire Southern region of Africa and beyond.

It features music, dance, poetry, comedy, disruptive entertainment, sports and drama.

Sand Music Festival in MalawiSand Music Festival About Sand Music Festival Number of Pe...

4. Lake of Stars

Number of People Attended Last Event 1,500
Date of Event May
Entrance Fee Not Set

Lake of Stars is an annual 3-day festival that usually takes place in the second half of the year.

Organized by Lake of Stars Africa, the festival was established in 2003.

The festival features live music, poetry, drama, discussion panels, cinema and more.

Lake of Stars provides a unique platform for local artists to display their work to a global audience as well as attracting high profile names from across the world to perform.

The platform caters to 80% of Malawian artists and 20% international artists.

Lake of Stars aims to create a platform that promotes the arts, culture and tourism of Malawi to the local and global market.

The festival also generates positive news and adds value to the economy of Malawi by promoting local hospitality businesses during the festival.

The festival includes the surrounding communities by bringing them a free concert a day before the main festival as a Corporate Social Responsibility activity.

Previous international artists that have graced the Lake of Stars stage include Mafikizolo, Major Lazer and many more.

Alongside the flagship festival, the Lake of Stars Project produces a number of other cultural events including the Children’s Future Festival, Lilongwe Shorts film festival, Euro Film Festival and Island in the Sky Festival.

Lake of Stars in MalawiLake of Stars About Lake of Stars Number of People Attende...

Culture, Art, Fashion and Film Festivals

5. Likoma Festival – Likoma

Number of People Attended Last Event 4,500
Date of Event Mother’s day weekend (15 October)
Entrance Fee Not set

Likoma Festival which was established in 2014 is Malawi’s annual island festival.

The festival takes place at Likoma Island accompanied with a ship cruise from any port on Malawi mainland.

Apart from the cruise to the island, patrons can also enjoy a boat cruise to Chizumulu Islands and Mozambique, play beach games, race canues and go sightseeing.

Aimed at marketing Likoma Island and Lake Malawi for tourism growth and investment through travel, the festival usually takes place during Mother’s day weekend.

This is an annual festival, it hasn’t occurred since 2018 due to unforeseen circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although there is no set entrance fee and the full package is inclusive of transport by water or road, entry fee and camping fee (3 nights) is less than MK100,000.

Likoma Festival is the only festival that is held on the magnificent island and boasts of treating its revellers to a fantastic experience.

Likoma Festival in Likoma IslandLikoma Festival About Likoma Festival Number of People Att...

6. Blantyre Arts Festival – Blantyre

Number of People Attended Last Event 3,000
Date of Event October
Entrance Fee Free Entry

Held in Blantyre over three to four days, the Blantyre Arts Festival (BAF) is an annual festival that was established in 2009 by Thomas Chibambo with the aim to respond to the need for development and promotion of various aspects of arts and culture by organizing events, festivals, cultural exchanges and local and international performances.

BAF also provides a platform to not only local and international artists but also to the youth on local and international artists but also to the youth on local and international levels.

Additionally, BAF runs cultural tailored projects that present the best of Malawian creativity to the widest possible audience and also provides social and creativity development trainings, capacity building and cultural initiative programmes to uplift tourism, creativity and the enhancement of arts and culture.

BAF has established various partnerships with schools and the students use the knowledge earned to address the challenges which affect their livelihood.

The last BAF took place in 2019 and close to 3,000 people attended over a period of 3 days.

This year, BAF is rebranding so for the first time ever, there will be no entrance fee for the festival.

The idea is to provide an opportunity to corporate for their products to be viewed by many.

It is also to give the audience a chance to view the arts without any restrictions in terms of entry fees.

Blantyre Arts Festival at Njamba Freedom Park, BlantyreBlantyre Arts Festival About Blantyre Arts Festival Number...

7. Zomba City Festival – Zomba

Number of People Attended Last Event 800
Date of Event 28 April – 1 May 2023
Entrance Fee Day Ticket: MK10,000, Pre-sale: MK16,000, Weekend: MK24,000

Founded in 2020, Zomba City Festival which is organized by Zomba Arts Platform is in its second year running.

The aim of the festival is to attract visitors to Zomba to explore and discover what the historic college city has to offer.

Zomba City Festival is not just a music festival, it is truly a city festival with a focus on arts, nature and heritage.

During the festival, patrons can enjoy a historic walk, coffee tasting, an art exhibition, a fashion show, cycling, hikes and much more.

The festival is open to all ages and this year, 2022, it was very evident that this was well understood by the public, as the festival welcomed young families, teenagers as well as older people.

There were over 50 performing artists, of which more than half came from Zomba.

The festival took place over 4 days from 29th of April to 2nd of May 2022 in 7 venues across Zomba: The Heritage Centre, Mango Lodge, Pakachere, The Mixed, Gymkhana Club, Sunbird Ku Chawe and Zomba’s scenic Botanic Gardens.

The Zomba City Festival did not take place in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021, it was small and had 800 visitors.

Zomba City Festival in ZombaZomba City Festival About Zomba City Festival Number of Pe...

8. Art in the Park – Lilongwe

Number of People Attended Last Event 536
Date of Event 11-13 November 2022
Entrance Fee MK5,000

Previously known as WESM Art Festival. this festival was re-invented to Art in the Park (AITP) in 2019.

The change was essential because different members from different entities were involved in the organization of the event.

Some of the organizers include Four Seasons Nursery, House of Messiah, Nyangu Chodola who is the director of Mwawala Art Hub.

The Department of Arts also occasionally supports this event.

AITP happens at the Four Seasons garden in Lilongwe twice a year mainly May and November and the day varies depending on other events that are happening during that time.

It is a three-day event that begins on Friday night with some opening activities.

Throughout the weekend, artists exhibit their work while musicians serenade the audience with music.

There are also interactive workshops available.

The purpose of Art in the Park is to promote artists in the country and provide them a platform to showcase their talent and also to bring artistic value to clientele that ranges from government officials, expatriates, tourists, and art lovers.

In May 2022, AITP had close to 40 artists and on the first day, there were over 60 attendants, Saturday had 270 and Sunday had over 190 patrons so in total there were 536 people that attended Art in the Park this year.

Art in the Park at Four Seasons, LilongweArt in the Park About Art in the Park Number of People Att...

9. Mzuzu Fashion Week

Number of People Attended Last Event 150
Date of Event June 2023
Entrance Fee Varies

Mzuzu Fashion Week (MzFW) was established in 2015 by Kwanza PR and Zik Garvey.

MzFW is Malawi’s Premier fashion event that happens annually since its inception and only took a hiatus in 2021 due to COVID-19.

The event presents a national platform to the world of designers, models, artisans, specialists and entrepreneurs as well as growing audience at its events.

It is a platform for fashion industry to promote their brands.

Mzuzu Fashion Week is also helping to influence the use and widespread acceptance of products from the textile industry in Malawi in high end fashion and design.

The aim of Mzuzu Fashion Week is to contribute to the growth of the national economy by creating and building sustainable businesses through creative ideas.

MzFW initially started in Mzuzu but also has events across Malawi mainly in the main cities of Mzuzu, Lilongwe and Blantyre.

The main events take place in October but there is continuous work throughout the year through other events such as Tumaini Festival where they arrange “Fashion in the Dust” among others.

Mzuzu Fashion Week in MalawiMzuzu Fashion Week About Mzuzu Fashion Week Number of Peop...

10. European Film Festival

Number of People Attended Last Event 500
Date of Event Dates to be announced
Entrance Fee Free Entry

The European Film Festival is an annual event that showcase acclaimed European features alongside Malawian short films.

Organized by the Lake of Stars team, the first European Film Festival in Malawi was held in 2019 at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe and the Jacaranda Foundation in Blantyre.

Although each screening is free entry, there is limited capacity.

The purpose of the festival is to create a platform to showcase European films and Malawian films.

It also aims to connect European film makers and Malawian film makers and conduct workshops and exhibitions in further developing the film industry of Malawi.

European Film Festival in Lilongwe and BlanrtyreEuropean Film Festival About European Film Festival Number...

Food Festivals

11. IWAM International Food Festival – Lilongwe

Number of People Attended Last Event 500-800
Date of Event June 2023
Entrance Fee Adults: MK2,000
Children 5-12: MK1,000
Children below 5: Free

Founded in IWAM (International Women’s Association of Malawi) is a group of around 120 women from various backgrounds and over 20 countries, including the host country Malawi.

IWAM supports various projects and initiatives around Malawi.

The group collects membership fees which they use to fundraise projects through various initiatives including the IWAM Food Festival and the annual IWAM Christmas Bazaar.

The IWAM food festival which takes place annually with alternating venues is aimed at raising funds and supporting charitable activities and projects.

It is also an opportunity for people to showcase their culinary skills.

The last IWAM International Food Festival took place on the 5th of June 2022 at Woodlands in Lilongwe.

With stalls from more than 10 Asian and African countries, visitors were able to enjoy unusual dishes not usually available in Malawi.

IWAM International Food Festival in LilongweIWAM International Food Festival About IWAM International Food Fest...

12. Wine Festival – Lilongwe

Number of People Attended Last Event 300
Date of Event Mid-2023
Entrance Fee MK25,000 ticket, MK30,000 at the door

The first of its kind to be held in Malawi, the Wine Festival is an annual event organized by Wines and Wings which took place this year at Kumbali Lodge in Lilongwe.

Featuring various wine collections, participants get to taste different wines paired with a selection of bread and dips.

There are also food stalls available if you need to grab a bite in between tasting the wines.

The purpose of the Wine Festival is to introduce South African brands of wine to Malawi.

The first Wine Festival took place in June 2022 at Kumbali Lodge and was attended by 300 people.

Wine Festival at Kumbali Country Lodge, LilongweWine Festival About Wine Festival Number of People Attende...

13. Beerland Festival – Lilongwe and Blantyre

Number of People Attended Last Event 500-800
Date of Event 29 October, 2022
Entrance Fee MK3,000

Beerland festival which was established in 2019 is a social event that takes place at various venues in both Blantyre and Lilongwe.

The event is organized by Lucy Msowoya of Lakini Enterprise and Kennedy Maluwa of DJ Kenny Entertainment.

The aim of the festival is to provide an opportunity to young entrepreneurs to showcase their talents whether in the world of fashion, food, beverages, music and dance, a modern manner of socializing, and everything in line with such.

This is true for both serial entrepreneurs as well as casual entrepreneurs.

Beerland Festival brings together different groups of people onto one arena thereby increasing the market base for everyone showcasing their products.

In this light, Beerland Festival could be said to be a modern social fun market-place. The more young entrepreneurs set up stalls at Beerland festival, the higher their likelihood of selling more due to the aspect of recycled customers.

Seeking a direction novel of its kind, the festival seeks to bring forth entertainment and a social lifestyle available to all groups of people in a modern era.

Beerland Festival takes place every 2 months in both Lilongwe and Blantyre.

Beerland Festival in Lilongwe and BlantyreBeerland Festival About Beerland Festival Number of People...

14. Summer Jam Gardens – Lilongwe and Blantyre

Number of People Attended Last Event 500
Date of Event November 2022
Entrance Fee MK5,000

The Summer Jam Gardens (SJG) which were established in 2018 are a series of social summer events focusing on funfair events with the best outdoor activities and a stage for music performances.

The event is organized by DJ Nathan Tunes, Alinane Njomole and Chikayiko Nkhoma.

SJG is aimed at promoting up and coming artists, local businesses and outdoor social events.

Since its inception, each Summer Jam has attracted not less than 500 people.

The official Summer Jam 2022 is expected to start in September with various events leading up to the festive season.

Summer Jam Gardens in Lilongwe and BlantyreSummer Jam Gardens About Summer Jam Gardens Number of Peop...