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Celebrating under the tropical blue sky of the Seychelles is a joyful experience. As the vast majority of the population practise Roman Catholicism, Christian Holidays form a large part of the national holiday calendar. Other highlights include secular festivals and the International Carnival.
Music and dancing play such a large role in Seychellois culture that no party is complete without them. And, it is not just at the weekend that people celebrate. Often, following morning church services (often only attended by Seychellois women), picnics, barbeques, and dancing take place. The year-round tropical temperatures encourage this festive culture, which is also expressed in beach barbeques, campfires, and open-air dances.
At the end of January, catamarans, yachts, and traditional pirogues come to the regattas of the Seychelles Sailing Cup on Praslin. There is also a deep-sea fishing competition as part of the event, which is hosted by a Belgian sailing organisation for one week each year. More Information.
The second major event of the year takes place on the northern peninsula of Mahé in February. Since 2008, the AIMS-certified Seychelles Eco-Friendly Marathon takes place in this location, and attracts sports enthusiasts from around the world. More Information.
In March, the International Deep-Sea Fishing Competition is held on Mahé, where the tourist office and the International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) take the lead.
This colourful homage to the culture of various nations has been celebrated each year since 2011. The Carnaval International de Victoria serves up noisy, colourful, joyous celebration of international harmony over the course of a weekend, with the island capital vibrating from all the rhythms of the world. The largest party in the Seychelles offers live shows, open-air discos, and an extended parade across town. As varied as the Seychellois themselves are the music and the costumes on show, which were made to be admired by all.
The spectacle deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as comparable events in Rio de Janeiro, Cologne, or London, and the international contingent that collects here is impressive. In 2015, nineteen different countries were represented here by show acts and creative ideas. That said, the Seychellois still form the majority of participants in the festivities, and often display original, wacky floats and zesty creations. Incidentally, there was also a carnival in Victoria in 1972 following the opening of the airport. You can find maps, information about the event, and hints and tips in the Seychelles Tourist Office (Independence House, Mon - Fri: 8.00 - 16.00, Sat: 9.00 - 12.00, tel. +248 461 0800, more information.
The Seychelles Arts Festival takes place in May. Organised by the National Arts Council, the festival gives outstanding local artists the chance to exhibit their works and give courses. Local chefs serve up some of the best Creole dishes, while music and dance groups come together with traditional storytellers to entertain guests.
Since 1999, Africa Day or the FetAfrik has been celebrated every year on 25th May. Many artists, including those from abroad, are involved in festivities.
The National Holiday of the Seychelles is on 18th June, when everyone descends on Victoria for a political day. The programme also contains shows and sporting events. Also in June, Dr. Marc Sabadin invites known artists and young talents from various countries to the Festival of Classical Music on Mahé. Listening to music under palm trees while enjoying views of endless white beaches makes for a fantastic event. Most of the concerts are held in Beau Vallon Bay. Besides that, there are events in various churches or in the international convention centre on Mahé.
Traditionally, in August there is a Sailing Regatta held in Beau Vallon, where a Miss Regatta is selected as part of the programme.
The Festival of the Assumption takes place in the middle of August, and is particularly well-celebrated on La Digue with a Mass, procession, and festival that attracts many visitors from other islands. In the weeks leading up to the event, houses are spruced up, altars are decorated, and statues are re-painted before being carried on the 15th as part of the procession to the island's church.
Encouraged by the success of the carnival on Mahé, the inhabitants of Praslin decided to host their own international event. In September 2014, the world saw its first three-day Praslin Culinary & Arts Fiesta. Traditional Thai music and dance, a marathon, exhibitions of local artists, cooking events, and much more make this event a real highlight of life on Praslin.
Also in September is the Windsurfing Race on Mahé, another sporting highlight. The Seychelles Yachting Association is responsible for the event (tel. +248 432 2232, firstname.lastname@example.org), in which windsurfers glide across the 25 km (15 mile) stretch from Victoria to Praslin. Another sporting event is the Seychelles Round Table Regatta in September at Beau Vallon.
At the end of October, the Festival Kreol takes place on Mahé on beaches and in hotels, conference halls, and theatres. Events include music, dancing, art exhibitions, theatre performances, processions, and congresses, all of which provide insight into the Creole way of life and its culture. The festival also contributes to maintaining and promoting the cultural roots of the population. Tourists can participate in the festival too, if they wish. This is thanks to it being the largest and most important on the cultural calendar of the Seychelles (more information), so many of the events take place at the country's larger hotels. The event is organised by the Ministry of Local Government, Sports, and Culture (tel. +248 432 1333). The event calendar can be found at the tourist office on Independence Street in Victoria (tel. +248 467 1200) or at the Festival Kreol Committee in Mont Fleuri (tel. +248 422 5477).
In October, the IGFA Fishing Tournament takes place, while in November, underwater photographers and videographers take part in the Seychelles Ocean Festival competition (www.subios.com). The Offshore Fishing Competition around La Digue selects the best deep-sea fisherman in the Seychelles from fifteen different categories. This event takes place in November (tel. +248 438 9696). More Information; SOF on Facebook
From October to December, First Communions are celebrated in the Seychelles, and it's worth going to church on Sundays during this period to experience the event. Meanwhile, Christmas celebrations in the Seychelles are also some of the largest of the year, and many people spend time on the beach with friends, celebrating with lots of alcohol.