🇿🇼 Harare International Carnival

The Harare International Carnival in Zimbabwe is a carnival that breathes multiculturalism.

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    When is the 2022 Harare International Carnival

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    When is the Harare International Carnival? The Harare International Carnival is generally held at the end of May. However, it can sometimes take place anytime between June and August.

    How long is the Harare International Carnival? The Harare International Carnival runs for a full week sometimes it goes for 9 days.

    Please note that the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority has advised that the carnival is currently being postponed at the moment. We will advise here when the carnival is back.

    What is the Harare International Carnival?

    The Harare International Carnival is one of the most important celebrations in Zimbabwe. In fact, it is one of the best carnival celebrations in Africa! Carnival in Zimbabwe continues to grow bigger and better over the years.

    Life can be tough and Zimbabwe has certainly seen its fair share of problems, so Carnival was created to make people happy! The Harare International Carnival is all about enjoying life and forgetting your worries for a while.

    The Harare International Carnival is dedicated to promoting the culture, customs and heritage of Zimbabwe! It celebrates the traditional music, art, dance and rituals of times gone by.

    The Harare International Carnival is known as the “people’s carnival” and was created to promote diversity and bring communities together. It celebrates multiculturalism and there are over 20 international carnival groups that perform at carnival.

    Where does the Harare International Carnival take place?

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    The Harare International takes place in the great continent of Africa, specifically in Zimbabwe in Southeast Africa. As the name suggests this carnival occurs in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe. Harare is the busiest and most populous city in all of Zimbabwe.   

    Harare is famous for its unique streets, which are adorned with jacaranda trees, creating an urban landscape colored in purplish blue. The city’s true strength lies in the fact that the Harare International Carnival is hosted there. Many of the carnival activities take place in the African Unity Square.

    How do they celebrate the Harare International Carnival?

    The Harare International Carnival is a carnival of beauty and creativity, showcases the magical Zimbabwean culture to the world. The Harare Carnival puts on full display the talent, artistic and creative skills of the Zimbabwean people.

    Every year the locals take to the streets dressed in stunning costumes, accompanied by rhythmic percussion groups and put on the most amazing traditional dance performances that go for the entire week.

    This carnival has become the most important celebrations in Zimbabwe. The Harare International Carnival is filled with parades, parties, people in costumes, musical performances, live entertainment, stand up comedy, faith displays and of course lots of delicious food and drink!

    The Harare International Carnival also invites carnival groups from all over the world to perform. Groups from over 25 countries worldwide perform every year at the celebration. The Harare International Carnival is a platform created to appreciate and acknowledge other cultures and embrace multiculturalism.

    What is the History of Harare International Carnival?

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    The Harare International Carnival is a relatively new carnival in comparison to most carnivals like Venice or Rio Carnival. The Harare International Carnival first took place in 2013 thanks to the Ministry of Tourism of Zimbabwe and was such a success that around 10,000 people attended.

    The carnival was created to bring some happiness to people’s lives. Zimbabwe has suffered many economic and social problems, and they wanted to create something that would showcase the best of Zimbabwe.

    The Harare International Carnival was created to increase people’s awareness about Zimbabwe and showcase their iconic African culture to the world. The carnival has been extremely successful in increasing both domestic and international tourism and in turn boosting the economy. 

    Fun fact! Did you know that carnival is thought to have started in Africa! Many believe that carnival began some 5000 years ago in Egypt and Sumaria and then was imported to Europe, where it spread to the rest of the world!

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    Harare International Carnival Events

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    Throughout the week of Harare International Carnival there are a lot of exciting events you can attend. Over 9 days the Harare International Carnival has events for all ages.

    The week during the carnival is loaded with activities that get the citizens of Zimbabwe excited. The seven days of festivities are very rich and joyful, where the fun, singing and dancing keep the carnival going.

    The carnival begins with the Miss Carnival Pageant, where candidates battle it out in the hopes of being crowned the new Carnival Queen.

    Following this event is the Carnival Jazz Night which is one of the highlights of carnival. Another popular event is the Exotic Night that was created to celebrate ZimDancehall which is a music genre that is especially popular with Zimbabwe’s youth.

    Another key event is the Samba Night as well as the highlight of carnival – the Zimbabwe Street Parade and Party, which is a huge parade that runs through the streets of Harare ending at Unity Square. Harare Carnival closes on the final night with the Carnival Music Concert which is a special event with international guests.

    Miss Carnival Pageant – Carnival Queen Election

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    The Harare International Carnival hosts the Miss Carnival Pageant. This is one of the most eagerly anticipated events of Harare Carnival. Female candidates compete to win the honor of being crowned the Zimbabwe Carnival Queen.

    The Harare Carnival Queen Pageant runs for an entire day and is taken pretty seriously by contestants. The event also provides a platform for these talented women to showcase their talents whether that be singing, dancing, playing an instrument or something else.

    During the Pageant the women also wear the most unbelievable costumes. You can expect a lot of color, sequins and even some uneven shapes, which will surprise first time visitors. The costumes and the hard work that goes into their creation, are an ode to the beauty of African art.

    The Harare Carnival Jazz Festival

    Throughout the year, several jazz festivals are celebrated in Zimbabwe. This has been possible thanks to an initiative promoted by UNESCO in African regions. The Harare International Carnival hosts a large and exclusive Jazz festival with some of Africa’s most talented Jazz Musicians.

    The Harare Carnival Exotic Nights

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    The organizers of the Harare International Carnival, as well as other government officials, planned an event called “exotic nights”. This is a set of events that exclusively take place at night.

    Some of the acts are:

    • Comedy Night: Monologes and comedy performances are held in various spaces.
    • Rumba Night: Rhumba is a type of ballroom dancing and an event not to be missed.
    • Samba Night: Various exotic dances fill the atmosphere of the carnival.
    • Tourism Night: Relaxed walks at night to learn more about the country’s history.

    The Harare Carnival Music Festivals

    What is carnival without music? The Harare International Carnival places a big emphasis on music with loads of incredible musicians and groups performing throughout the carnival. Musicians from all over Africa will perform during carnival, as well as a number of international special guests too.

    The Harare Carnival Street Parade

    zimbabwe harare carnival

    The highlight of Harare Carnival is the Harare Carnival Street Pararde which takes over the city.

    Harare International Carnival Parades is a huge and colorful spectacle that features dancers, musicians, performers, drummers, amazing costumes, floats, musical groups and of course the Zimbabwe Carnival Queen.

    Performers showcase traditional Zimbabwe dances and wear colorful costumes that are truly beautiful works of art. The parade themes relate to things like Zimbabwe traditions or Zimbabwe culture.

    Every year the parade features performers from all over Africa. There are also many international countries that participate like the Brazilian Samba dancers. The organizers want to encourage diversity and celebrate the various nations and cultures around the world, as well as provide an opportunity for the locals to be introduced to those cultures.

    The parades are all about community participation and having fun! You can expect big crowds, loud music and people of all ages coming out to see the show. The celebration doesn’t finish at the end of the parade, people continue to party afterwards.

    Harare International Carnival Parade Route

    Where does the Harare International Carnival parade take place? On the second-to-last day of the carnival, the parade runs through the streets of the capital of Zimbabwe. Make sure not to miss any of it!

    Learn about the Harare International Carnival route here:

    • The parade starts on Simon Muzenda St. It is a very wide, big and long street, so the location is simply great for the audience. Thanks to its width, those wearing costumes are able to perform and dance freely.
    • After a long walk, the parade makes it to Jason Moyo St. Like before, this one is also a very wide street with considerable width. The best thing about this location is that it has many shops and malls where you can eat, so it’s a great place to sit down and enjoy the show.
    • The parade ends at Africa Unity Square. Its large water fountain becomes the stage for carnival costumes, and the square’s unique rounded shape means that the last performance of the parade can be seen from all angles.

    What to eat at the Harare International Carnival?

    The Harare International Carnival is the perfect opportunity to discover Zimbabwe’s unique cuisine. Who would miss the opportunity to try out the typical dishes of this African country?

    Near the parade route made you can find food stalls and open establishments where you can enjoy an appetizer; and the best thing about tasting the local food is that you can tell it’s made with love and dedication.

    Zimbabwe has a high meat consumption, which includes: chicken, pork, cow, goat, etc. Fish caught from freshwater rivers are also eaten.  

    Some of the typical Zimbabwean dishes are:

    • Muriwo Unedovi: Green cabbages mixed with peanut sauce.
    • Muboora: Stew made of pumpkin leaves and meat.
    • Kapenta: Local fish from Lake Tanganyika.
    • Sadza: Local bread and a staple in Zimbabwe.
    • Nyama: Roasted beef with mixed greens.
    • Maheu: Non-alcoholic corn drink.

    Many of the recipes are centuries old and were discovered by natives of yesteryear. We highly recommend that you try out the exotic flavors of these dishes.

    Harare weather

    According to weather sources, there is usually an average of 24°C maximum and 10°C minimum in May, with unusual rainfall.

    In June and August, both with a very similar weather, there is an average of 22°C maximum and 7°C minimum, with virtually no rainfall.

    Where to stay during the Harare International Carnival?

    Harare is quite a big city so you have a lot of accommodation options. As the cost of living is much cheaper in Zimbabwe foreigners can stay in more luxurious places to suit their budget.


    Check out some accommodation deals in Harare here.

    Is the Harare International Carnival Safe?

    Harare is probably one of the safer destinations in Africa. The Zimbabweans are beautiful and warm people that are incredibly welcoming of outsiders. Like any major city around the world, you just need to know what areas are safe to visit and which ones you should avoid. Crime rates are relatively low in Harare, however you should watch out for pickpocketing which can occur.

    How to get to the Harare International Carnival?

    There are only a few airlines that fly directly to Zimbabwe. The majority of people will fly to South Africa, usually Johannesburg and then catch a connecting flight to Harare. The Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare is only 15 minutes into Harare’s city center.

    Top things to do and see in Zimbabwe?

    In the 8 provinces of Zimbabwe there are always many activities and places to visit. For this reason, visitors should plan ahead during the week of the Harare International Carnival.

    Most of the carnival activities are focused in Harare, but you can also find cultural events in the entire country. The festivity is celebrated in many forms across all cities, making the carnival a nationwide event.

    Make sure to visit these 4 resorts in Zimbabwe during the Harare International Carnival:

    • National Botanical Garden of Zimbabwe: Located in Harare and 4 kilometers from the city center. This garden is a mandatory stop for visitors, where you get to enjoy a space of up to 7 km2 full of vegetation.
    • Hwange National Park: this 15-kilometer long area can only be visited in a guided tour. Here you can find up to 500 types of different species, which include elephants, lions, giraffes, and much more.
    • Victoria Falls: An indescribable place you won’t find anywhere else. This rare and incredible waterfall in the middle of the Zambezi River covers about 1.7 kilometers long and 108 meters high.
    • The ruins of Zimbabwe: If you are a fan of archeology, you cannot miss the ruins of this country, believed to date back to the 11th century. Without a doubt, you will be able to discover unique experiences by walking where the ancestors of Zimbabwe walked.

    Top tips for visiting the Harare International Carnival

    We recommend that if you are thinking about visiting the Harare International Carnival you check with the organizers and government authorities to ensure that the carnival will be taking place. The carnival has experienced some postponement over the years due to budget constraints and now with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

    What makes the Harare Carnival ‘international’?

    In 2013, the Harare International Carnival welcomed more than 1 million visitors from up to 14 different countries. Then in 2014, it surpassed that number, with attendees of more than 19 countries around the world. The figures continued to rise, making the carnival earn worldwide recognition.

    Countries like Italy, Brazil, Zambia, United Kingdom, Ethiopia, United States, and many more have attended the carnival… this is why the African holiday is considered international, since major countries have their eyes on this unique event.

    The main reason for this holiday was having a time to celebrate the diversity of Zimbabwe. With this simple idea in mind, the country managed to attract millions of people from all over the world to watch more than 7,000 dancers in costumes parade.

    Everyone gets to participate in the Harare International Carnival

    The Harare International Carnival is also called the “people’s event” because all the Zimbabweans join in the mysterious acts that the celebration entails.

    The event organizers say that the purpose of the performances and dances is, to a large extent, showing the world the artistic skills of the participants as a major goal they have set themselves.

    The culture of the African country is quite diverse among each community, and expands even further thanks to the Harare International Carnival, which brings together the citizens to celebrate the most important event of the year for Zimbabwe.

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