Every December, The International Festival of the Sahara, or the Douz Festival, takes place in the southern desert region of Tunisia. The rich and original cultural festival is a four-day celebration of the traditional desert culture, focusing on Bedouin life. The event started as an annual Bedouin Bridal fair where nomadic families would meet, trade and check out the eligible talent for their sons and daughters’ future weddings. What was already a huge event on the Bedouin calendar, has become a gigantic celebration of desert culture, attracting over 50,000 people from the region and abroad. Founders stress the importance of preserving the traditional desert culture and the festival is a vital way of appreciating its unique flare and authenticity.
The festivities include different kinds of races, namely a camel marathon, dog races, and exhilarating horse races by daring young Bedouin riders.
There is also wrestling, a central event of a poetry contest and readings, as well as traditional music and colorful dancing. Traditional tableaus of desert life and customs are reenacted. There are typically discussions and conferences that round out the festival with the inclusion of international guests and subjects concerning the modern world. Douz is also home to the Museum of the Sahara, which showcases many displays of traditional nomadic culture.
Visitors interested in witnessing this fantastic Festival of the Sahara will do well to plan ahead as hotels in the region fill quickly. The festival usually takes place towards the end of December each year. Mosaic North Africa presents a Festival Package, which includes transportation to the south and hotel accommodations, day excursions to the surrounding areas, or full tours that include a night’s stay in the desert.