Before travelling | During your journey

Holidays & Festivities

Besides to 1st May, Christmas, New Year´s Day and other Catholic holidays like Easter and All Saints Day, Malagasy celebrate their independence on 26th June. 30th December is also an important public holiday, since Malagasy celebrate then the Anniversary of the Republic of Madagascar. On 29th March Madagascar memorializes those who died in the rebellion of 1947 against French colonization.

Fitampoha festivities in Belo-Sur-Tsiribihina
© Madagascar tourisme

The traditional religion of the Malagasy is based on reverence of the ancestors, or razana. The cult is perhaps best known through bone-turning ceremonies, or famadihana, where remain of a selected relative are exhumed, passed among the guests and filled in on all the latest development. These are joyful occasions, including much partying, drinking and dancing. Some Merina and Betsileo families are now accepting tourists at their famadihanas, but be sure to arrange this in advance – one family might be happy to have guests and allow you to take pictures, but another family at a tomb a few metres away may be against it. Depending on each family, the Malagasy celebrate this event between once a year and once in ten years, with a party that can last three days during which some families spend their whole savings. During Famadihana, most families have a little parade along the street (to show to the dead what has happened in the meantime), where they carry the dead body along, often accompanied by a brass band. Best season to see Famadihana is August, September and October.

Music festivals are celebrated in May or June in Nosy Be (Donia music festival) and in November or December in Tana (Gasyfara music festival).