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Kenya North Coast hosting popular annual Lamu Cultural Festival | Coastweek

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Performers dance [left] during the East African Community Arts and Culture Festival in Nairobi. The festival provided a platform to showcase culture as a primary driver of regional integration. The east African Community intended to use this festival to promote regional tourism products to the world. LAMU (Xinhua) -- Members of the Bajuni community [right] on Kenya north coast perform a harvest song during the International Lamu Cultural Festival in Lamu County. XINHUA PHOTOS - PAN SIWEI and SIMBI KUSIMBA

Kenya North Coast hosting popular annual Lamu Cultural Festival

LAMU (Xinhua) -- More than 50,000 local and international tourists are due to attend a four-day annual Lamu Cultural Festival, a major tourism event which kicked off in the coastal region on Thursday.

The festival, which first started in 2001, is a four-day event celebrating coastal Lamu’s heritage and traditions in a carnival atmosphere.

Each year, the Lamu Archipelago, a cluster of islands along Kenya’s north coast, comes to life during the annual Lamu cultural festival.

Lamu Old Town has a unique cultural heritage passed down for over 700 years; an attribute that earned Lamu Island a place in the coveted UNESCO’s List of World Heritage Sites in 2001.

According to Betty Radier, chief executive officer of the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), the event continues to attract growing numbers of local and international tourists every year.

Under the theme ‘Tembea Lamu’ (Take adventure in Lamu), Radier said the event will showcase the diverse and distinct Lamu culture with dances, poetry, henna painting, displays of handicraft and unique competitions such as dhow and donkey races to spice up the festival.

"We expect higher participation this year owing to enhanced marketing of the event.

"Lamu Cultural Festival is among the key events that KTB is supporting in line with the tourism product diversification strategy agenda to showcase Kenya’s rich cultural diversity," she said in a statement.

Radier said the festival will also be used to affirm Kenya’s continued commitment as a destination towards the diversification of its tourist offering to complement the traditional safari and beach attractions.

Hotels and other accommodation facilities in Lamu are gearing up for roaring business as thousands of local and international participants flock into the iconic island for the 18th edition of Lamu Cultural Festival.

According to KTB, local, regional and international tourists have made bookings for the four-day event which ends on Sunday with over 50,000 participants expected to attend the festival.

Radier said the government has invested heavily in enhancing security in Lamu and the surrounding region as part of preparations for the annual event.

Most visitors to Lamu Island fall in love with its relaxed and peaceful lifestyle.

She said visitors during the festival will have a chance to experience life in Lamu at its most exuberant and joyous.

Boasting rich cultural splendor and a rare historical living heritage, Lamu cultural festival reveals an important and brilliant part of Swahili culture with a rare and wonderful opportunity to experience the island’s unspoiled beaches, medieval ambience, architecturally magnificent Old Town, gracious population, and traditions of an enchanted island where history continues to live.

Kenya North Coast hosting popular annual Lamu Cultural Festival | Coastweek

LAMU (Xinhua) — A man uses a donkey to carry goods in Lamu town while locals ride in an Arab-style sailing boat with a single lateen at Lamu beach. XINHUA PHOTOS: JOHN OKOYO



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