Middle East & Africa


DECEMBER 19-29, INTERNATIONAL NILE ROWING REGATTA, Cairo and Luxor. This 2,000-meter rowing competition follows a pattern introduced by ancient Egyptians. Teams fromt around the world will compete.

LATE JANUARY-EARLY FEBRUARY, CAIRO BOOK FAIR. About three dozen countries will be represented at this sprawling fair. Traders, collectors, and buyers as well as publishers will be present, to haggle over antique scrolls and new paperback releases.

For information: Egyptian Tourist Authority, 630 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10111. (212) 246-6960.


DECEMBER 8-15, HANUKKAH CELEBRATIONS, throughout Israel. Candle-lighting ceremonies and special programs will be held in the major cities.


DECEMBER 26-JANUARY 4, LITURGICA, Jerusalem. A pageant of vocal music by choirs and soloists from around the world.

APRIL 24-30, EIN GEV MUSIC FESTIVAL, Gev. The Ein Gev kibbutz overflows with folk-dance troupes, choirs, and concert performers from Israel and abroad during the Passover holidays.

For information: Israel Ministry of Tourism. 350 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10118. (212) 560-0650.


NOVEMBER 14, AQABA WATER SKIING FESTIVAL, Aqaba. One of Jordan’s prettiest Red Sea resorts hosts a birthday celebration for king Hussein, with group skiing performances and competitive water sports such as ski jumping.

For information: Jordan Information Bureau. 1701 A St. NW, Washington, DC 20006. (202) 659-3322.


JANUARY, INTERNATIONAL BILLFISH COMPETITION, Malindi. On Kenya’s eastern coast, 60 miles north of

Mombasa, deep-sea enthusiasts from around the world gather to troll for blue marlin and other top game fish.

MARCH 27-31, SAFARI RALLY, Nairobi. An international field of competitors set off from Nairobi for a lengthy tour of the Kenyan countryside on some of the most rugged roads in the world.

For information: Kenya Tourist Office, 424 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10017. (212) 486-1300.


NOVEMBER, WAX LANTERN FESTIVAL, Sale. Dor Esh Shemaa, the waxlantern procession, is preserved intact from Sale’s Barbary period, when corsairs carried wax lanterns to the sanctuary of the town’s patron to implore his protection before a long voyage. This beautiful event takes place in the Bou Regreg estuary, near Rabat.

MID-FEBRUARY, ALMOND BLOSSOM FESTIVAL, Tafraout Valley. Almond blossoms ranging in color from pure white to blushing pink cover the valley at this time of year. Excursions are available so that visitors may see this great natural spectacle.

For information: Moroccan National Tourist Office, 20 Fast 46th St., Suite 503, New York, NY 10017, (212) 557-2520.


DECEMBER, IGUE FESTIVAL, Benin. In this colorful seven-day festival, which is said to date back nearly 600 years, Oba people perform traditional dances in full regalia, and their chiefs hold a mock battle and dance in procession to the palace to reaffirm their loyalty.

JANUARY, BULAUSUBOU OGE, Tuomo, Western Ijaw. Boa constrictors and other reptiles abound in Tuomo and neighboring villages, where they are held sacred. Visitors share a lounge, bedroom, and chair with boa constrictors. Dancers carry around live reptiles, kissing and embracing them.

FEBRUARY, ARGUNGU FISHING FESTIVAL, Sokoro state. Every man and boy in the area arms himself with a large fish-net scoop, enters the water, and, to the accompaniment of drummers stationed in canoes, helps drive the fish into shallow waters. The festival offers displays of barehand fishing, duck hunting, swimming and diving competitions, and canoe racing. Drinking, drumming, and dancing continue into the night.

For information: Nigerian Information Services, 575 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10022. (212) 715-7200.


NOVEMBER, HABYE FESTIVAL, LamaKara. A festival of purification held every five years by the Kabye tribe in the north of Togo. There will be dramatic demonstrations of magic, including men walking on the unsupported fronds of the tallest palm trees.

JANUARY 13, NATIONAL LIBERATION DAY, Lome. A vast parade makes its way through the streets of the capital city.

MARCH, TILSM FESTIVAL, near Kante. The Bassar people give over three days of the March dry season to predicting the crop. Men perform sintou, a magical dance that can last as long as the festival does.

For information: Togo Information Service, 1625 K St. ATE, Suite 102, Washington, DC 20006. (202) 659-4330.


DECEMBER-MID-JANUARY, CAMEL WRESTLING, Aydin province. The wrestling pits camel against camel and is accompanied by music played on the davul drum and the zurna reed flute.

DECEMBER 14-17, FESTIVAL OF MEVLANA, Konya. In honor of the great Moslem mystic, poet, and philosopher Jalaludin Rumi, founder of the order of Whirling Dervishes, Whirling Dervishes perform the Serna ceremony, to the accompaniment of music played upon the ney reed flute.

For information: Turkish Government Tourism and Information Office, 821 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017. (212) 687-2194.


MARCH, KUOMBOKA (LOZI) CEREMONY, Western province. This festival is held when the Zambezi River swells; kuomboka means “getting out of the water.” The main event is a very colorful regatta in which thousands of boats and canoes are led by the Royal Barge, which carries the Paramount Chief. The barge is powered by 60 paddlers whose chants are accompanied by drums and xylophones.

For information: Zambia National Tourist Board, 237 East 52nd St., New York, NY 10022. (212) 758-9450.