Festivals & Events in Ghana

Akwasidae, traditional Festival at the Royal Court of the Ashanti King in Ghana, in Kumasi

The first day of a new month is a huge celebration called the Akwasidae festival. It takes place in the royal palace and gathers hundreds of people, all dressed traditionally.

The ceremony opens in the throne room, where only the initiates are allowed. Ritual libations of blood and schnapps are poured onto the thrones of the former kings as offerings to them and to the ancestors.

Then the king, the Asantehene, makes an appearance in the royal court where he takes a seat under a large brightly colored umbrella. Dressed in vibrant colors and adorned with large pieces of antique gold jewelry, he greets his people. (Ashanti gold jewelry and masks are part of the master pieces of the African art)

In front of the king, a corridor opens up where members of the court come to swear allegiance to the king and give him some gifts. There are chiefs in the shade of their umbrellas, sword carriers, bearers of ritual knives, armed guards with loaded rifles and nobles with ostrich feather fans. Sitting next to the king are found the dignitaries of the court. The royal speaker, called a “linguist”, is standing by the king’s side and holds in his hands a golden scepter as a symbol of the Asantehene power. The Queen mother, the most important woman in the realm, is also present and surrounded by her court exclusively made up of women. To accompany the ceremony, “griots” tell the glorious stories of the past Ashanti kings, musicians play drums and ivory horns giving the rhythm to the ceremony and women wrapped in bright red clothes dance performing traditional steps characterized by a succession of delicate and rapid movements.

Tours with this festival:

Ashanti Funerals, Traditional Ceremonies to Commemorate the Deceased in Ghana, around Kumasi

The Ashanti funerals are celebrated to commemorate the deceased and are a unique event that takes place after the burial. It celebrates the transition of the soul of the deceased, called Okra, into the ancestral world where it becomes a protective spirit for the clan, therefore highly venerated. Family, friends and acquaintances, sometimes in their hundreds, take part in the celebrations. They all come dressed traditionally. Men wear a large piece of black cloth over their shoulder, just like a toga, and relatives can be recognized as they only wear black or red clothes. The chiefs attending the funeral sit in the shade of large colorful umbrellas surrounded by their court. After the traditional greetings on arrival, everyone takes a seat. Some start to dance, performing slow and graceful movements with an obvious erotic and heroic touch to them.

Awukudae, traditional Ashanti festival, around Kumasi

The Awukudae ceremony literally means the “Wednesday ceremony”. It is celebrated around the traditional chiefs in order to benefit from the constant protection of the guardian spirits and also to strengthen unity between the people and their chiefs, the people kneeling down to pay their respects to the chiefs. It is a unique opportunity to attend a highly colourful royal ceremony enjoying the sound of great drums giving rhythm to the strong moments of this ancestral ceremony.

Dipo, initiation for girls in Krobo land

Each year, at the end of April, the Krobo people perform one of the most spectacular African initiation ceremonies exclusively intended for girls. It is called Dipo.

Through ancestral rites, the girls are initiated to their future role of mothers and brides over a long week-end. The peak of the festival is when the girls have to take their clothes off to cover themselves in beads instead, made by the Krobo themselves. That way their freshness and beauty is highlighted and in this majestic atmosphere the girls finally enter adulthood.

The village is entirely transformed during those days: parties, dances, colors, rhythms and joyful emotions give us the opportunity to live an unforgettable experience.

Millet Festival, harvest celebration in Krobo land

The Millet Festival is a harvest ceremony sprinkled with a profusion of colours and beautiful jewels. Traditional chiefs come dressed in their best outfits and are surrounded by a particularly enthusiastic crowd. Escorted by their entire court, they parade to the rhythms of the drums. This festival will be highly appreciated by those who are passionate about glass beads as the Krobo themselves make them and are so proud to show them during the festival.

Bakatue, the main festival celebrated in Elmina

Literally “Bakatue” means the “opening of the lagoon”. This festival commemorates the foundation of the town and is also celebrated to invoke the deity Nana Benya in charge of the constant protection of the town. During the festival the Paramount Chief and all the fetish priests make sacrifices to the River God and pray for peace.

There is also:

  • A royal procession made up of chiefs dressed in gorgeous fabric along with the members of the Asafo companies holding their colorful flags.
  • A boat cruise on the lagoon with on board women wrapped in beautiful traditional Kente cloth. This is a spectacular festival ending up with music and dances around the Chiefs.

Festival Aboakyer

Aboakyer, also known as the ‘deer hunting festival’, is organized to honor the tribal God of Winneba, a town located along the coast. In this festival, God Penkye Otu receives the sacrifice of a deer. The festival originated about three hundred years ago, when Winneba was first established. People believe they managed to set up their homes here owing solely to the help of their God and that they are still under its protection. This festival is the expression of their gratitude.

Aboakyer Festival involves two groups of people in Winneba, the Tuafo and the Dentsifo. They compete by going into the bush and being the first to catch a deer. Armed with only clubs, the group which first catches the animal rushes back home singing war and victory songs. The deer is then presented to the Omanhene who places his bare right foot three times on it. After completing this ritual, the deer is lifted up and carried through the town streets by singing and dancing men to the the shrine of Penkye Otu.

Festival Asafotufiam

Commemoration of those who died in the Ashanti-British wars during which Ashanti fought against the British invasion. The aim of the celebration is to pay respect to the main Ashanti chiefs.

Festival Oguaa Fetu Afahye

Originally it was the harvesting festival. Nowadays, the climax is the chiefs’ processions holding the traditional Asafo flags, symbol of their power. Evening dances close the clebration.