Eritrea shares quite a lot of similarities with her older sister, Ethiopia in spite of the frosty relationship between both countries. Apart from using the same calendar, several cultural and religious festivals are celebrated in the same manner and time by both. These include: Meskel, Fasika, Lidet, etc. However, the Festival Eritrea is certainly not one of them.


When Mussolini’s Italy colonized Eritrea in the late 19th century, transforming Asmara the capital into what they referred to as La Piccola Roma, Little Rome, the aim was to really use Eritrea as a launch pad to possess Ethiopia.

The sequence of events that followed saw Eritrea come under Ethiopian rule which culminated in a war of independence from September 1961 to May 1991.

Festival Eritrea: Long Before Independence…


Festival Eritrea7002

Interestingly, Festival Eritrea did not start on African soil, but in Europe – Italy, in the city of Bologna to be precise. It all began on the 4th of July 1974 as thousands of Eritreans from Europe, Middle East and North America gathered in the Italian city. Initially, the gathering was to meet with loved ones and get updates on the liberation struggle and share ideas.


Since then, Bologna became the rallying point until 1991 when Eritrea became independent. Since then, the festival has taken place in Eritrea and in several other cities across the globe. These cities include, Bologna, Toronto, Riyadh, and various cities in the USA.

Eritrean Festival Canada


In Asmara, the celebration is known as Festival Eritrea Expo Asmara and it usually takes place in the last week of July and continues into August for ten days. Largely a celebration of Eritrean life and culture, Festival Eritrea is the biggest festival in the country. The activities usually take place at the Asmara Expo Exhibition grounds.


The various ethnic groups in the country participate in dance, music and theatrical performances. Also, local foods, arts and crafts, costume are on display and sold in bazaars. Some of Eritrea’s neighbors and ally countries like China have sent performers to take part in the festival.

There are camel rides and special sections for children as well. Also, popular Eritrean musicians put up performances to entertain the crowd.


For additional information, please see:

Photo Credits:, Zantana Imaging


‘Niyi David explores the beautiful and enthralling continent of Africa with Afro Tourism® capturing colorful memories of places, cultures and events in words and images.


Notice to readers: Some of the images may have been taken from the Internet. We do not own them.We provide due credit to the owner(s) if we are aware of the source. You are free to contact us via email: [email protected] to provide proper credit or ask for removal of an image

Michael Alvin

Michael Alvin

Creative Writer
Michael Alvin is a lawyer and a UNESCO certified journalist. At Afro Tourism, he blends creativity with his training in telling moving stories about his personal experience on his various trips across Africa.
Michael Alvin
Michael Alvin
Michael Alvin

Latest posts by Michael Alvin (see all)