Swaziland's Reed Dance Dates Announced

The dates for Swaziland's biggest cultural event have been announced and a hive of colourful activity will soon descend upon the country in the form of the festival known as 'Umhlanga' or Reed Dance.

The Festival is set to start on the 29th of August, with the main day (Day 7) taking place on Monday 4th September. It will be on this day when the main ceremony occurs, with the dancing attended by the King signalling a public holiday in Swaziland.

The ceremony is an amazing spectacle and residents of this tiny mountainous Kingdom are intensely proud of their deep culture. Taking part in the Festival is a proud and privileged moment for all the family.

This centuries-old tradition is when the Kingdom's unmarried and childless females present their newly cut reed to the Queen Mother to protect her residence. The King sometimes makes use of the occasion to publicly court a prospective fiancée or Liphovela.

When the Festival arrives, young women from all over Swaziland and beyond her borders converge on Ludzidzini, the Royal Homestead in Lobamba for this momentous occasion. Maidens gather in groups and head out along riverbanks to cut and collect tall reeds, bind them and return to Ludzidzini. Tens of thousands of maidens, led by Swazi princesses, provide a sea of colour as they dance and sing, proudly carrying their cut reeds.

The highlight of the event is the reed-giving ceremony - one of Africa's largest and most colourful cultural spectacles. The maidens gather at Ludzidzini dressed in traditional attire; bright short beaded skirts with colourful sashes revealing their bare breasts to dance and sing and celebrate the unification of the Kingdom's women. His Majesty King Mswati lll joins the celebrations to pay tribute to the maidens.

At the end of the day, the maidens present their cut reeds to the Queen Mother, Ndlovukazi, and the protective Guma (reed fence) around her homestead will be rebuilt.

The Umhlanga Festival is a visual spectacle that bonds this small but perfectly formed nation. Its ever- increasing popularity defies the apparent decline of traditional cultures elsewhere in Africa. Witnessing this festival is a truly unique experience. Visitors are welcome, but are vastly outnumbered by the participants! This is a traditional event that allows spectators, not one that exists for spectators.

See it for yourself and experience Swaziland's unique blend of ancient culture, pristine wilderness, year round wildlife and spirit of adventure!

For more information contact Bex Knight, PR Executive at Kamageo (bex@kamageo.com) on +44 (0)1664 823759