Incwala Ceremony

This is Eswatini’s most important cultural event. A ceremony that has lasted for hundreds of years, it is one of the last remaining examples of what was previously common practice in many African countries. It has a spiritual power that is largely lost on outsiders, and indeed many of its inner workings remain shrouded in secrecy. Although often translated as ‘first fruits festival’, the tasting of the first of the season’s bounty is only one part of this long rite. 

Essentially this is about cleansing and renewal, and – above all – celebrating kingship. Although not a tourism event per se, visitors with an interest in Eswatini culture are always welcomed. Respect for total privacy is required on certain special days when the nation gathers for its own focus, without outside interference.

More about event

  • Every Swazi may take part in the public parts of the Incwala. Spectators are permitted but not actively encouraged – and you may not take photographs except by special permit. The best day to attend is Day four of the Big Incwala, when the feasting and dancing reach a climax, and you will see thousands of people – including warriors in full battle regalia – thronging the royal parade grounds. The songs, dances and ritual that take place inside the royal kraal remain a matter of utmost secrecy and may not be recorded or written down.

    The event takes place around the last week of December / first week of January. The dates for the event are released relatively close to the time as they derive from ancestral astrology.

Location

Time

November - January

Location

Ludzidzini Royal Residence
Engabezweni, Eswatini

Event Schedule