Umhlanga Reed Dance Ceremony

The Umhlanga Reed Dance Ceremony, one of the most culturally significant events in all of Africa, is about to take place in Eswatini.

Umhlanga Reed Dance Photo courtesy of Eswatini Tourism Authority
Umhlanga Reed Dance Photo courtesy of Eswatini Tourism Authority

Umhlanga Reed Dance Ceremony - Main Day: Sept. 4, 2023 - Ludzidizini, Eswatini

In late August something very special will take place in The Kingdom of Eswatini, the African nation formerly-known as Swaziland. Eswatini is already an amazing place to visit; the country, mostly surrounded by South Africa, is extremely scenic, has stellar accommodations ranging from bush camps to luxury hotels, and a plethora of game parks where the famed "Big 5" can be spotted. Art and craftwork can be found at Swazi Candles where visitors can marvel at the variety of premade candles and even make one themselves, and at Ngwenya Glass where glass blowers fashion souvenirs right before your eyes. And Matenga Cultural Village offers a glimpse into the traditional way of living in Eswatini, through displays and song and dance performances. But visit Eswatini in August and you have a chance to see an incredible spectacle: The Umhlanga Reed Dance Ceremony.

The general idea of the Umhlanga Reed Dance Ceremony is that girls, or maidens, cut and gather reeds to present to the Queen Mother. They begin their adventure at the Queen Mother's Royal Village in Ludzidizini, and from there trek out into the wilds to collect their reeds. The maidens have to travel quite a distance to do this and it takes several days before they return to the Royal Village. After a day of rest the maidens do their hair and prepare their costumes before dropping their reed bundles outside the Queen Mother's quarters and spending a couple of hours performing dance. Then on the final day of the ceremony, known as Umhlanga Main Day, a national holiday, the girls dance for spectators, the Queen, and King Mswati III. The event features unparalleled pageantry as the young women dance in colorful costumes that dazzle all.

The Umhlanga Reed Dance Ceremony is open to all; there are restrictions on photography at certain times. Travelers can reach Eswatini by road or fly into King Mswati III International Airport from Johannesburg. For more information on the Umhlanga Reed Dance Ceremony and other things to do in Eswatini go here.

Share this article

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Pin it Share on Reddit email this article