In 1910 the Douz Sahara Festival was founded, celebrating Saharan and nomad culture. The main theme has stayed the same over the years, highlighting the heritage of the Marzougui tribe. Douz is usually a rather small city which has two times more plants than inhabitants but during the festivities it is filled with people from all over the world. This year’s edition will take place towards the end of December.
Initially named the Camel Festival, it originated during Tunisia’s period of French colonization, featuring a selection of beloved Bedouin games and customs. These encompassed activities like camel racing, camel, Sloughi hunting, dancing, and, naturally, public weddings. Presently, this festival continues to showcase these traditional events alongside numerous others, both planned and impromptu, spanning a wide range from acrobatics to sand hockey, horse racing, and culminating in the climactic desert rodeo.
The festival goes beyond mere entertainment, offering insights into Bedouin and Berber culture. This features an array of artistic expressions including theatre, dance, poetry, and music. Moreover, a craft fair showcases local craftsmanship, while the festival has the best cuisine the Sahara has to offer. The desert itself adds to the enchantment, as the landscape captivates all who attend. The event captures the spirit of North Africa, embodying its traditions, endeavors, experiences, celebrations, discoveries, and cultural heritage.
An example for the excitement this event can bring is the desert rodeo game. The rhythm of pounding drums set the stage, a lone rider, typically a father figure, gallops his horse in a circular motion while gradually maneuvering himself into a standing position on the horse’s back. Subsequently, he dismounts briefly, only to mount up once more and repeat the impressive feat. However, this time, he adds another element to the performance by lifting a young boy onto the horse, holding him high above. Then, he accomplishes an astonishing sight by lifting a young girl as well, resulting in all three individuals standing upright on the back of the galloping horse.