Algerian Culture

Local Feasts: a symbol of cultural identity

  • Algeria is a nation with multiple facets. Its traditions are colorful and handed down from one generation to the next. Algeria‘s local festivals are organized all year round throughout the country. From the north to the south, each area has its own festival that it celebrates with splendor.

  • A symbol of popular traditions, the local festivals have become an occasion for organizing tourist stays to discover the marvelous sites of each one of its areas and to share the joy of the local populations with their legendary hospitality.

  • On the whole, no less than 256 local festivals are celebrated annually throughout the various areas of the country.

  • Tafsit of Tamanrasset:For three days, the people of the Hoggar gather in Tamanrasset to celebrate the arrival of spring in an atmosphere of festival rich in colours. Folk band processions are organized through the streets of the city to the great delight of the local people and tourists who come in large numbers to share the joys of this festival where the traditional craft industry occupies a privileged place… Fashion parades and beauty contests are organized on this occasion to elect “Miss Hoggar” and the best Tuareg of the region.
  • S‘biba of Djanet: Tassili N’Ajjer (provinces of Illizi and Tamnarasset) is the vastest museum of prehistoric rock art in the world. More than 15,000 drawings and engravings tell the stories of the climates, fauna and the human life in the Sahara from 6,000 BCE to the early centuries of our era

  • S’Boue of Timimoun:Like the Tassili, the Gourara area is known for its festivals in which the traditional songs of the “Ahellil” bands are omnipresent. Organized during the mawlid, the feast celebrating the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the S‘boue (week)is a festival that lasts seven days and seven nights. The seventh day, all the people of the K‘sour gather around the zaouia (religious school) of Sheikh El Hadj Belkacem for a large gathering where the standards of the brotherhoods are exhibited to the beat of the Ahellil songs. The celebration of this festival is also an opportunity for gathering the local population to settle any quarrels which may arise during the year and to seal new alliances.

  • Mawlid of Béni-Abbès:In the vicinity of Béchar, northwards, the sumptuous oasis of Béni-Abbès celebrates lavishly the birth of the Prophet. On the day of the Mawlid, the small square of the town is the center of a great deal of excitement with karkabou music and local dances. This religious festival is also an opportunity for the circumcision of the children and meetings between the families of the Saoura.

  • MawsimTaghit:The Saoura region organizes, in the last weekend of October, a great celebration, the “Mawssim Taghit”. This festival is dedicated to the date and offerings are made to the poorest sections of the population. The date harvest is an opportunity to gather all of the inhabitants of the Saoura in this age-old festival which dates back more than 19 centuries. The tradition is celebrated during three days to the beat of the bendir, the goumbri and songs chanted in chorus.

  • Ouaâdat Sidi Ahmed El Medjdoub:Celebrated in the second weekend of every October, Ouaâdat Sidi Ahmed El Medjdoub takes place in the commune of Asla (province of Nâama) in honor of the saint man Sidi Ahmed El Medjdoub who lived in the 15th century. The festival is organized by the Medjadba tribe to preserve and perpetuate local traditions and habits during which couscous and tea are served to all the guests. During the feast, fantasia exhibitions are performed, poetry contests and a major commercial event are organized, and miscellaneous goods are offered on sale so that the inhabitants supply themselves to face the harsh winter.
  • Ghardaïa Carpet Festival:In the M’Zab valley, the spring holidays provide an opportunity for craftsmen from all parts of the country to exhibit and sell their carpets. Enlivened by Karkabou bands which play percussions based rhythms and fire gunshots in the air, this festival is an exotic tourist attraction. Visits to the five towns of the region are organized for tourists in M’Zab valley. A legendary market for auction sales is held in one of the towns, Béni-Izguen. More than a traditional festival, this event is an artistic contest in which craftsmen compete in a convivial atmosphere.

  • M’Doukal Fantasia:During the first weekend of every month of May, a festival is held in the Aurès region. The palm groves and K‘sours of M’Doukal located ten kilometers from the famous ghoufi‘balconies’, provide a magnificent landscape for the fantasia shows during which horsemen dressed in traditional clothing exhibit their most beautiful horses. The spirit of the popular singer Aissa El Djermouni is reminisced everywhere during the three days of this festival. Popular poetry contests are also organized.

  • Daghmouli Festival:Around the mausoleum of MoulayAbderrahmane, the Hoggar tribes: Kel-Rela, Kel-Rebla, Kel-Abagar, Issabaten and Tedjiène - flock together to celebrate the daghmouli (dawn of holiness) in homage to the Hoggar Tuaregs (probably the Dlmenan tribe), who rebelled against the French in 1902. The ziara (visit of the mausoleum) lasts two days on specific dates, in May.

  • AthKhlili Pottery Festival:In the village of the Mâatkas, an area situated south of Tizi-Ouzou, potters and pottery has been holding center stage for nine years now. The clay ware trade in this locality is primarily feminine. AthKhlilli’s women are famous for the quality of their potteries whose decorations are inspired from the Berber symbolic system.

  • AthYenni Silver Jewel Festival:From July 27th to August 4th, a festival is organized at Ath Yenni to celebrate silver jewels. The jewels of this region are set with coral and decorated with yellow enamel (for the sun), green colours (for nature) and blue ones (for the sky). The village is perched high in the Djurdjura mountain range at an altitude of more than 900 meters. These Kabyle jewels have won international awards, particularly in Canada and the United States.

  • El Kala Coral festivalIn this easternmost town of the Algerian coast bordering with Tunisia, the coral festival gathers fishermen, craftsmen and other tradesmen in August. Algerian coral, which regenerates quickly after fishing, is exported to many countries. El Kala’s coral, as well as Bejaia’s, is famous for its quality and its rare rose tones. Heather wood is another wealth of this area; it is used to manufacture internationally famous pipes.