Zanzibar, also known as “the spice islands,” has long conjured up a romantic image for travelers. Located along the Indian Ocean off the coast of mainland Tanzania, Zanzibar was named one of “41 Places to Go in 2011” by the New York Times in its Sunday Travel Section, January 9, 2011, with a circulation of more than one million.
An autonomous state within The United Republic of Tanzania, Zanzibar consists of Unguja (also known as Zanzibar Island), Pemba and some 50 smaller surrounding islands and islets. Stone Town, the historic port city of Zanzibar Island, is a World Heritage Site and a major cultural attraction. Already popular for its beaches, water sports, scuba diving (using environmentally-friendly equipment), underwater photography, reef watching, dolphin watching and snorkeling, Zanzibar is now focusing on promoting its many year-round festivals showcasing the diverse cultures and history of Tanzania’s Kiswahili coastal islands.
The most well known festival is the Zanzibar International Film Festival, also known as The ZIFF Festival of the Dhow Countries. East Africa’s largest cultural event, the film festival takes place in Zanzibar around the magnificent, historical venues along the waterfront of Stone Town. Many screenings take place outdoors in an historic amphitheater. The festival celebrates the unique cultural heritage of Africa and the Dhow countries of the Indian Ocean region and their global Diaspora. The 2011 Zanzibar International Festival will take place July 2–10. The Sauti za Busara music festival, now in its eighth year, will take place in Zanzibar February 9–13 this month. Sauti za Busara is Swahili for “Sounds of Wisdom.” The festival includes 40 musical groups, hailing from Zanzibar, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, West Africa and Europe.