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Kampala City Festival – Tips for enjoying the Festival

Oct 3 • 7210 views • 18 Comments on Kampala City Festival – Tips for enjoying the Festival Kampala, tourism experience, Uganda

Are you going to Kampala City Festival this October 8th?

This is the Muzungu’s story from a previous year. I had a blast! Scroll down to the bottom of this page for the Muzungu’s tips on how to enjoy the Kampala City Festival 2017!

Kampala City Festival 2017

Scroll down to the bottom of this page for the Muzungu’s tips on how to enjoy the Kampala City Festival 2017!

Tips on how to enjoy the Kampala City Festival

PHOTO Kampala Capital City Authority (@kccaug) on Instagram

The Kampala City Festival takes place at the beginning of October every year. Dozens – hundreds? – of Uganda’s favourite musicians and entertainers will be performing live for FREE. Expect the streets of Kampala to be absolutely jam-packed!

Kampala City Festival Kampala Road crowd. PHOTO Ndijjo

Kampala City Festival Kampala Road crowd. PHOTO Ndijjo

Click here to visit KCCA’s Festival web site for October 2017! This year the Festival will be on Sunday 8th October.

Visit the 2016 Kampala City Festival web site

2016’s theme was #blackyellowred

Uganda is without doubt one of the friendliest places in the world. I don’t think most Ugandans realise how truly charming and hospitable you are. I had some lovely greetings from random strangers when I attended last year’s Kampala City Festival:

“Uganda is a very safe place!”

“This is the dance of the Imbalu – from Mbale! Ka-la-loo!”

They were really chuffed that the Muzungu was at the Kampala City Festival, and very proud of their country. Rightly so.

At 3 o’clock in the afternoon, there’s a lovely vibe, no aggravation and no drunkenness (although I can’t guarantee how pumped up everyone is by the end of the night).

KCF2015 LOGO Kampala City Festival

Tips on how to enjoy the Kampala City Festival – the 2015 logo

What a treat to reclaim the normally congested streets of Kampala streets for DANCING!

As I walk-dance down the road, wiggling my kabina, 20 teenage girls break into screams of ecstasy laughing at the Muzungu dancing. Dancing does not discriminate, everyone dances together: thousands of Ugandan boys and girls, mothers and young children, boda boda drivers, teenagers on roller skates and vacant-looking teenagers who are expecting-to-see-something-but-not-sure-quite-what.

dancers sponsored by Bell beer, Kampala City Festival

dancers sponsored by Bell beer, Kampala City Festival PHOTO

I wonder what the average Kampala resident makes of the festival cum carnival? The spirit of carnival, with its masks and fancy costumes, has its roots in Africa, via a torturous journey that includes slavery, translocation from West Africa to the West Indies and then onto Brazil. The Rio de Janeiro Carnival, the most famous in the world, has its roots in the carnivals and masquerade balls invented by the freed slaves of Trinidad in the Caribbean. In Europe, our biggest street festival is the Notting Hill Carnival, London, pioneered by the black community that settled from the West Indies.

The carnival has come full circle: from Africa and back to Africa – to Kampala!

Here in Kampala, we don bright yellow Afro wigs, red Mohican wigs, facepaints and masks. Kids wear multicoloured sunglasses.

Tips on how to enjoy the Kampala City Festival

The Muzungu gets Uganda fever too! Uganda flag hat – the must-have accessory of Kampala City Festival 2014

On street corners, young men set up photo printing machines. Vendors sell samosas, groundnuts, icecream and ice lollies. Ladies carry plastic buckets of fried cassava on their head. Children line up to have their faces painted. The lady painting the child’s face cleans the paint from the brush in a recycled Waragi bottle.

Tips on how to enjoy the Kampala City Festival

Vendor on a street corner in Kampala. Note the security checks going on behind him

By 4 o’clock, the sun now blazing, the Uganda Wildlife Authority Mountain gorilla looks tired. He looks like he could do with a nap and some bamboo. He’s running his own personal marathon today in the full glare of the scorching sun: wearing a heavy plastic suit that is half a centimetre thick and covered with thick fur. The throng of onlookers walking alongside UWA’s float stop to gawp and take photos of him. It’s the closest they have ever come to a gorilla, and they’re so excited. “Big ups” to the UWA gorilla.

“Ka – loo – loo!”

Tips on how to enjoy the Kampala City Festival

“Big ups” to the UWA gorilla (hiding behind the bamboo). He was a real hit with Kampalans, all wanting a photo

The busiest intersection is on Kampala Road above the railway, a heaving body of humans, corporate floats and banners and Kampalans pushing towards the stages looking for their favourite musicians. Onstage next to Station House, I watch Eddie Kenzo – my hero! I can’t get enough of Sitya Loss.

“Dansez, dansez….”

Always eager to experience something new, I try my first Kasese tonto brew. Have you tried it? (It looks a bit like someone has done a short call in the cup – but tastes a lot nicer!) So much so, I return for a second cup…

Tips on how to enjoy the Kampala City Festival PHOTO

The 2016 theme of Kampala City Festival is #BlackYellowRed PHOTO

Right at the point where I can move neither forwards nor backwards through the heaving crowd, two men force their way through with a huge sack of ice. Wafts of smoke drift through the crowd, from barbecues laden with goat (and some dubious-looking sausages).

Tips on how to enjoy the Kampala City Festival

Bell Lager bikers along Kampala Road. Kampala City Festival 2014

Tins of Bell Lager are on sale here and there but I see few empty tins on the streets. It seems most Festival goers are taking sodas (I have never seen so much ‘pop’ available) and bujeera and local brew stored in cavernous plastic bins and served in empty Coke and Sprite bottles.

I’m loving the Kampala City Festival. Ugandans are such beautiful people. (Is the Kasese tonto going to my head a little bit?)

What is the route for the Kampala City Festival 2017 procession?

The 2017 Kampala City Festival – now in its sixth year – brings together everyone who lives in Kampala. It’s gonna be mega!

#KampalaCityFestival route map 2017

Note the major traffic flow changes in the Central Business District ahead of #KampalaCityFestival 2017

Take a note of the major traffic flow changes in the Central Business District ahead of #KampalaCityFestival 2017 weekend of 8th October. All feed-in routes into Kampala-Jinja Road will be closed off to vehicular traffic on Saturday evening. (This is the main festival route). Affected routes include: Buganda Road, Bombo Road, Kampala Road, Luwum Street, Wilson Road, William Street, Dustur Street, part of Entebbe Road (interception of Nasser and Nkrumah Roads), part of Jinja Road (at Kitgum House), Colville Street, Kimathi Avenue, Parliament Avenue, King George VI, Speke Road, Dewinton Rise, Sir Appollo Kaggwa, and Siad Barre.

Tips on how to enjoy the Kampala City Festival

  • Leave the car at home.
  • If you can, park far away from Kampala city centre and Central Business District and walk.
  • Why not get an Uber? Install the Uber app and get UGX 10k off your first trip by using the promo code VISITKAMPALA. In terms of price, from Ntinda to town costs about 8k and Makindye to town costs about 8k. TIP: install the Uber app BEFORE Sunday! And note: your Uber cab will have to drop you away from the main stages because of road closures (and huge crowds!)
  • How to enter Uber promo code Kampala

    How to enter the promo code VISITKAMPALA and get 10k UGX off your first Uber ride!

  • Even boda bodas are refused entry to the area cordoned off for Kampala City Festival.
  • There are lines of security checks to enter the procession route. No-one gets past without being frisked. There will be lots of security, both uniformed and plainclothed.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, and ladies, don’t take a huge handbag. With the crowds thick in places, you will be glad you left it at home.
  • Do you really need to take your fancy phone? Pickpockets love these type of crowded events, wherever you go in the world.
  • Arrange to meet friends before you leave home. Either meet up first and travel together, or agree a time and place to meet. Stick to it! Although you may want to call someone during the festival, it is far safer to leave all your valuables at home.
  • Taking the kids? They will love the KIDS’ ZONE in Constitutional Square, Kampala. There is plenty for them to do there but the square, and access to it, will be packed.
  • Don’t drink too much. I’m not sure how many toilets you are going to find along the route. Secondly, I’m not sure what kind of state they will be in. Lastly, if you are boozing, don’t forget you have to get home once the Kampala City Festival is over – as do another one or two million people. If you’re a bit drunk, it could become a bit of a nightmare for you.
  • Tips on how to enjoy the Kampala City Festival

    Tips on how to enjoy the Kampala City Festival

  • There will be lots of stalls selling different types of food, from full plates of Ugandan food, to fried chicken, and more. Snacks and drinks include carrot, pineapple and passionfruit juice; popcorn, candy floss and beer, samosas, G nuts (groundnuts), ice cream and ice lollies. If you want to eat healthily, or drink water, bring your own.
  • The Kampala City Festival fireworks display starts just after 11 o’clock at night.
  • If you absolutely have to take your phone or your camera with you, share your photos on Instagram, KCCA on Twitter or Facebook 🙂

Are you going to the Kampala City Festival?

What are your tips and recommendations for having a good time at the Kampala City Festival? Which performers are you looking forward to seeing ?

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18 Responses to Kampala City Festival – Tips for enjoying the Festival

  1. “Great Post” Kampala is the capital and largest city of Uganda. Here’s Festival has begun & the organisers are pledging a grand feast. Thanks for sharing this great information to enjoy the Kampala City Festival.

  2. Rosie says:

    Hey 🙂

    Thanks so much for sharing your advice. I have recently moved to Uganda for an internship and we are planning on attending the festival tomorrow. I am really looking forward to seeing the dancing and tasting the food! I have a quick question – are there many handcrafts on sale? Thank you!

    • the muzungu says:

      Hi Rosie, welcome to Uganda!
      I didn’t see a lot of crafts last year but the Kampala City Festival is evolving quickly, so perhaps you will find some tomorrow. The Kampala City Festival is very popular with Ugandans, and not really set up (thus far anyway) to target visitors from overseas, perhaps that’s why crafts didn’t get a good showing last year?
      For the best range of crafts, go to the Daisy Arcade craft market in Buganda Road. Another place is behind the National Theatre. When I first arrived in Uganda, I was like you and wanted to immediately snap up lots of interesting local crafts, but it’s actually better to have a good look around first because there’s a lot of stuff that is overpriced, low quality, imported etc.
      For top quality crafts, the Banana Boat shops are highly recommended, although they can be pricey.
      If you want your money to go to a good cause, there are many organisations who do fundraising via crafts, particularly paper jewellery and other recycled paper products.
      The Friday afternoon market behind the Sharing Centre in Nsambya (town end of Ggaba Road) is another good place for crafts. Don’t buy the first thing at the first price, and do bargain! Throw in a few words of Luganda for fun 🙂

  3. maryann660ac says:

    i too will wiggle my kabina

  4. lizziema says:

    I too will shake my kabina in the best possible style! I love your colourful post, it all looks fun to me.

  5. sharon says:

    This is a memorable event for me. In 2014 me and my hubby tried to brave the crowed! And indeed it was so much fun to interact with so many locals and mzungus in the city!

  6. Mamerito says:

    Thank you for putting up such a great piece Charlotte! I enjoyed reading and would recommend other people to check it out.

  7. matatamercy says:

    Cool post and thanks for loving Uganda my Country, Iam proud of you ####
    Keeping promoting Uganda, it was good to know about the cultures and a passionate people like Ugandans
    i appreciate your effort !!!!

  8. […] Oct 3 › Kampala City Festival – Tips for enjoying the Festival » […]

  9. […] now back in Kampala and getting stuck into the marketing strategy for the Rwenzoris […]

  10. Martin says:

    Shaking(wiggling) one’s ‘kabina’ – amazina amaganda — That is what it is actually called. They’re moving their waists more as oppose to their bubinas. Hahaha

  11. […] A young man walks by, with an empty milk churn hanging off one arm. A paper tissue drops out of his pocket onto the ground. A minute later, a woman in a headscarf and red batik wrap approaches, equipped with a traditional broom and a red plastic shopping bag containing a battered old cardboard box and miscellaneous rubbish. She leans down to pick up an empty crisp packet and the tissue. The shoeshine man hands her some of his rubbish. They do not acknowledge each other. I sense the rhythm of a regular routine. It’s a relaxing way to wile away a few minutes before the bus pulls out of Nyabugogo station for Kampala. […]

  12. the muzungu says:

    Kampala City Festival 2017 Charity Concert

    **See the list of performers here**

    DATE: Friday, 6th Oct 2017 – 5:00 PM
    VENUE: Kololo Independence Grounds


    Tickets go for;
    UGX 20,000 Ordinary
    UGX 40,000 VIP
    UGX 3,000,000 Corporate Tables

    Tickets are sold ONLY at the following outlets in Kampala;
    Shell Lugogo
    Shell Bugolobi
    Shell Kira Road
    Shell Capital
    Shell Kabalagala
    Shell Mengo
    Shell Kawempe
    Shell Namirembe
    Shell Bunga
    Shell Ntinda
    Shell Jinja Road

    For table bookings, call +256(0) 794660005. You can also buy tickets via MTN Mobile Money or Airtel Money. Follow these 5 simple steps;

    STEP 1
    Dial *210# (At this point, you will receive a message, “Welcome to payleo. Enter Merchant Code)

    STEP 2
    Enter this Merchant Code
    01231 (At this point, you will receive a message, “You are paying KCCA Charity Concert”)

    STEP 3
    Enter Amount
    40,000 OR 20,000

    STEP 4
    Enter Reason
    VIP or ORD

    STEP 5
    Enter PIN
    (At this point, you will receive a confirmation message)

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