Shela Lamu Kenya

Events & Festivals

Lamu is known for being Kenya’s “Island of Festivals”. There are several festivals throughout the year, like the Lamu Cultural Festival, Shela Hat Contest, Maulidi Festival, Lamu Art Festival, Lamu Yoga Festival, Dhow racing


Lamu is known for being Kenya’s “Island of Festivals”.

Lamu Cultural Festival, taking place in November.

The 3 day festival is meant to give visitors a taste of Swahili life. The activities include dhow sailing races, donkey races, traditional henna paintings, numerous poetry readings, music performances and competitive Bao games. The "Bao Game" is regarded as one of the oldest games in history with evidence showing that it has been played in the region for thousands of years.

Shela Hat Contest, every even year (2018 and so forth) around mid-February.

Started by Herbert Menzer, the "Shela Hat Contest" takes place on the beach in front of "Peponi Hotel". Locals are showing off their creativity as they parade their uniquely hand crafted sun hats. There is no limit to the inspiration of the contestants as they make use of the materials available around the island, be it pieces of coral, shells, palm leaves, water pipes, or even pieces of plastics found on the beach. Please visit to view the colourful show.

Maulidi Festival, held during the 3rd month of the Muslim calendar.           

This is a four day Islamic festival to celebrate the birth of Prophet Mohammed. During Maulidi Celebration joyous and beautiful music is tuned out, veneration is done and religious scriptures recited to mark the festival. It is a celebration of a people’s culture and tradition held so dear by the residents that blends history, the present and the future.

Lamu Art Festival, every uneven year (2019 and so forth) around end February.

Launched by Herbert Menzer, over 40 African and European artists and musicians are invited to the island for the festival. Taking their inspiration from Lamu’s ever present scenery of natural beauty and harmony the artists are spread all over Lamu Island for 3 weeks working on their upcoming pieces before the festival’s final weekend. Their work is then displayed at the Lamu Fort celebrating the art works of paintings, sculptures, photographs and installations of the African and European participants. The art exhibition will be followed by a great performance of Kenyan musicians in Lamu Town Square and at "Diamond Beach Village" on Manda Island.

Lamu Yoga Festival, mid-March.

Initiated by Monika Fauth of "Banana House and Wellness Centre" the event has been rated No. 1 Yoga Destination! Featuring over 150 classes of yoga taught by 26 professional practitioners during the four day festival every participant can try the many, and perhaps yet unknown, yoga varieties. Activities include numerous yoga workshops and meditations, a chance to taste the Swahili cuisine, sail on a dhow and interact with yogis from all around the world. The festival activities are spread over Manda Island, Lamu Old Town and Shela Village.

Dhow Racing, various dates throughout the year.

The renown Lamu Dhow Races are taking place on New Year’s Day, at Easter, during August and are also accompanying the many other annually scheduled Lamu Festivals as their final celebration. Different teams from the entire Lamu Archipelago get together to compete against each other. In an electric and crisp atmosphere everybody is coming out for the spectacular show lining up on the beach awaiting the start with excitement. If there is space you may be invited to participate on one of the racing dhows or you can follow the race in a motor boat. If you are on the island during one of those races, these are definitely not to be missed!