Events and Festivals
Mauritius is a cultural melting pot with a population consisting of various religions and origins. All live together in peace, Hindus, Christians, Muslims and Buddhists. This is reflected in everyday life and through the various places of worship that are built all around the island. Each community has its own rituals and celebrations which are for some spectacular and colourful, while for others, more sober and solemn. There are also events that are celebrated by the whole nation, such as the National Day and the Kreol Festival, and of course, sporting events that bring together all communities.
The Spring Festival
The Spring Festival or Chinese New Year is usually celebrated in late January or early February in accordance with the Chinese calendar. It is a very important celebration for the Sino-Mauritian community. Red is the colour that brings good luck and firecrackers are lit in the evening or at night to keep misfortune away. You can attend the traditional Lion Dance in some parts of the island, but mainly in Chinatown in Port Louis.
The biggest pilgrimage of the year takes place for Maha Shivratree, the Great Night of Shiva, held in February or early March. Mauritian Hindus walk to Grand Bassin, also called Ganga Talao, considered a sacred lake by this community. The pilgrims carry Kanwars, wooden or bamboo decorated structures, on their shoulders as a sign of sacrifice. Pilgrims from other communities also join this spiritual journey; you are welcome to follow the walk if you are staying on the island at this time.
The Thaipoosam Cavadee is a festival celebrated by Mauritians of Tamil faith in honour of Lord Muruga, generally in February. After 10 days of fasting, the devotees walk to the temple and some of them carry offerings and insert needles into their skin as a sign of sacrifice. A fire-walking ceremony is also organised at the end of the march. These rituals can impress and make sensitive souls uncomfortable.
The National Day is celebrated on the 12th March to commemorate the independence of the island acquired in 1968 and the accession to the status of Republic in 1992. A big ceremony with parades and shows is organised every year in Port-Louis.
Chinatown Food Festival
For the past fifteen years, there has been a two-day festival dedicated to Chinese food organised in April. This event takes place in Chinatown in Port-Louis, for which most of the streets are reserved to pedestrians. All Sino-Mauritian merchants and restaurateurs sell their products while the youth perform the Lion Dance. It is a colourful festival promoting Chinese culture in Mauritius. An exceptional opportunity to taste all kinds of sweet and savoury delicacies, knowing they are not all easily accessible to the public in normal times!
Eid-Ul-Fitr, the New Year celebrated by Mauritian Muslims, also marks the end of the month of Ramadan. Every year, the festival date changes as it is based on the Islamic lunar calendar. Eid takes place with prayers at the mosque and at home, but it is also a privileged time for sharing for Muslims who distribute sweet and savoury traditional food to their neighbours and friends.
Divali is the festival of light for the Hindus, the victory of good over evil, of Lord Rama over the demon as written in the Ramayana. It’s a magical night with houses adorned with small oil lamps or electric fairy lights. Today, all the communities of the island also light some lamps. The Hindus share sweet cakes with their neighbours, friends and colleagues according to tradition.
Easter and Christmas
Easter and Christmas are the two main religious events celebrated by Christians in Mauritius. Easter is held in March or April according to the liturgical calendar and is preceded by Lent. Of course, in addition to religious rituals, chocolate eggs are just everywhere at this time, and it is the occasion to enjoy a special meal with the family. For Christians, Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus and is lived in prayer during the Advent period. This festival is now universal and is celebrated by all the communities that decorate their living room with a beautiful Christmas tree and exchange gifts. This is also the peak season for hotels. If you come from the northern hemisphere, you have to experience a hot Christmas once, feet in the sand!
Kreol International Festival (FIK)
The Kreol International Festival is a festival that celebrates the Creole culture, the culture of Mauritius, of all its communities, through nearly a week of celebrations and cultural events including concerts, slam and poetry sessions, theatre plays, art exhibitions and, of course, showcasing local cuisine. The festival is usually held in November or early December.
The number of local and international sporting events has been increasing these last years and, for some, accessible to visitors with an early registration.
The Indian Ocean Islands Games (JIOI) is a great event to see. They are held every four years, alternating between Réunion, Seychelles, Madagascar and Mauritius. It is a competition that brings together the best athletes from Indian Ocean islands who practise for years to be qualified. Athletics, swimming, football are among the many disciplines performed. The last JIOI took place in Mauritius in 2019.
Several trails and races are organized during the year, open to foreigners, such as the Royal Raid in May, the Ultra Trail Raidlight in July, the Ferney Trail in September and the Mauritius Marathon in July.
For golf lovers, the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, the first tournament sanctioned by the European, Asian and Sunshine Tours, is played alternately on the Anahita and Heritage golf courses in November, and the Staysure Tour, formerly MCB Tour Open, reserved for the best Seniors of the European tour is held in December on Legends golf course in Belle Mare, and since 2018, also on the golf of Constance Lemuria in Seychelles.