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Happy New Year! What an exciting time to be alive. New decade, new memories to be made and of course, new bucket lists. Eswatini tourism had an extraordinary 2019. We successfully adapted the world to our name change and even made it onto Lonely Planet’s list of best travel destinations. Well, now is the year for us to prove exactly why we deserved that spot and give you even more reason to start planning that long overdue trip to the Tini. Luckily for wanderlust bitten souls, our Kingdom is a yearlong travel treat with festivals, tourist hotspots and safari experiences that can be had from January to December.


The Eswatini calendar begins with the Incwala, which initially kicks off in December. This festival which is also known as the national prayer, serves to celebrate new harvest and first fruits and to pray for guidance and peace as the nation enters a new season. Tourists are welcome to partake in this ceremony.

Buganu season

February marks the start of the Marula season which runs throughout the month of love up until March. The Marula fruit is collected and brewed into a delicious beer known as Buganu. Households then convene at the Ebuhleni Royal residence for the Maganu festival to present their home brew to the King and Queen mother. Tradition permits that the nation can only drink the beer once the King has tasted it, after that it is open season nationwide. Local tour operators have been known to run Buganu tours ; a great option for anyone seeking to not only be part of the festivities but learn a little about Eswatini as well.

King’s Birthday

Once the binge drinking season dies down, April ushers in a double celebration: National Flag Day which is only celebrated as a public holiday and the Monarch’s Birthday which is an annual national affair. The festivities for the King’s birthday celebration are held at a royal residence and the public is welcome to attend.

Bushfire Festival

Lauded by international folk and anticipated by locals, the Bushfire festival is the country biggest social culture export. The Music and arts festival is held every year in May at Malandelas house on Fire in Malkerrns and draws a crowd from all over the world. Here, music lovers can expect to enjoy African and international live music, film, dance, visual arts, shop from handicraft markets and enjoy a variety of foodie stalls. What’s amazing about it too is that its family friendly as well so there’s fun to be had for everyone. 2020 tickets are already available and more information can be found on the official Bushfire fest website.

Safari experiences

Although only a few reserves in the country offer Big five viewing (Leopard, buffalo, rhino, lion and elephant), all parks still make for a memorable excursion. Take a self-guided tour at Mlawula or trek rhino on foot at Mkhaya. Watch the crocs at the watering hole at Hlane or view small game on horseback at Mlilwane. Spoilt for choice is definitely the name of the game.


The winter season is in full swing by June and is the start of the country’s cycling and biking season as well. Annual races such as the Ngwenya glass MTB challenge, Inyatsi frontier and the Imvelo Classic are a favourite for the outdoor crowd. Most of these races aim to either uplift community projects, raise conservation awareness or simply offer a well-rounded family fun experience.

Sibebe Survivor

Endorsed by the Mbuluzi Rotary club and attended every year by organisations and families, the Sibebe Survivor is a gruelling hike up the world’s second largest exposed rock. Participants can expect to have their limits pushed and tested as they trek through Highveld slopes, over streams and across lush bush. However, the view is definitely worth the struggle. The Sibebe Survivor is held in July/August every year and is a must-do for hiking enthusiasts.

Luju Food and lifestyle festival

The Luju Festival is to Eswatini what the Durban July is to the republic, except without the horses. This fest which will only be in its third year this year, is slowly growing into another of the country’s much anticipated events, coming in second after Bushfire. The food and lifestyle expo offers an African themed event with live music, art, fashion, food stalls and even live cooking demos hosted by renowned chefs. There are also exceptional wines available and tastings of locally made rum and gin. Unlike the Bushfire festival however, Luju is a one day experience.

Umhlanga Reed dance

The reed dance is one of the many traditions that Africa’s last Monarchy has upheld successfully in an ever changing world. This ceremony is celebrated every year in August and is attended by locals, heads of state and tourists. Thousands of young maidens participate in cutting of reeds that serves to rebuild the walls of the royal residence and then dance before royalty on the two main celebration days. The colourful regalia and unified dancing is what makes it an interesting spectacle to witness.

Bird watching

The spring and summer season is the best time to view stunning aviary in the country. Eswatini happens to be one the worlds birding paradises with over 500 different species. Here is where you can find the gorgeous Purple crested Turaco which also happens to be the national bird and the beautiful Narina Trogon and even Bald Ibis. For the ultimate experience, pick between Malolotja reserve and Mbuluzi.