Every year, numerous holidays are celebrated in Antananarivo.
Below are the main dates for these festivities :
As it is all over the world, New Year's Eve is a traditional celebration, an opportunity for families to come together, and a big night out. Families meet around a special meal—pork and rice are served throughout Madagascar—before dancing until dawn. The next day, one greets the people you come across in the street. Many Malagasy go to church in the morning, as well.8 March : International Women's Day (national)
This holiday is a paid day off but for women only. On this occasion, many events are organised in addition to official speeches-conferences, workshops on gender equality, a focus on influential female personalities, a night of dance, a carnival that brings together women's associations, and more.March : Taom-baovao malagasy (national)
Established by King Ralambo, who reigned in the late 16th century, the Malagasy New Year is a tradition of the Merina ethnic group, a people from the northern part of the central highlands around the region of Antananarivo. Forgotten during colonisation, when the Gregorian calendar was imposed, it is now experiencing renewed interest on the part of the population.
Celebrated in March, the Malagasy New Year follows the lunar cycle and therefore the date changes every year. The festivities begin the night before with lights, lanterns, and a parade in traditional outfits with braided hair, as well as a purifying bath. After retiring to their homes by torchlight, each household is asked to keep a flame burning until the dawn of the new year. On the big day, the Malagasy exchange vows and share a tatao, a dish consisting of rice, honey, and milk.
This religious festival is a day out for the Malagasy: many of them gather for a picnic or visit the capital. Numerous concerts punctuate the day in both Antananarivo and the provinces.29 March : Martyrs Day 1947 (national)
On this holiday, the Malagasy celebrate the memory of the martyrs who died during the uprising against the French colonial army on 29 March 1947.April : Les Rencontres du film court (local)
Inaugurated in 2006, this most important Indian Ocean cinematic event, offers more than 300 film screenings (documentaries, fiction, animation) as well as meetings, trainings, workshops, and a competition for Malagasy short films. The festival takes place over nine days in dozens of venues in the capital. Access to events is free.17-19 June : Madagascar Carnival (local)
For three days, the carnival of Madagascar promotes Malagasy culture through a series of events in the capital: the regional fair celebrates Malagasy heritage, arts, and regional riches; a large parade takes place on Independence Avenue, the main artery of the city; and a concert highlights artists from all over the island.26 June : National Independence Day (national)
On this day, the Malagasy celebrate the independence of the island in 1960 after 65 years of French colonisation. In Antananarivo, the festivities start the day before, with fireworks, and continue on the 26th with a military parade. Families and friends prepare a special meal and decorate their homes with the colours of the national flag: white, red, and green.July to October : Hira gasy Makotrokotroka (local)
To make Antananarivo come alive during the tourist season, this cultural festival invites you to discover free hira gasy shows (traditional popular musical theatre of the Highlands region). Performances are held every Sunday from July to October in the Andohalo Garden (in the historic centre of the city).October : Angaredona (local)
For ten days, the Madagascar Live Music Festival offers concerts and exhibitions. Often organized in Antananarivo, it will take place in 2016 in the town of Ambositra, south of Antananarivo. Seven relatively unknown groups will face off in a competition.October : Madajazzcar (local)
Created in 1989, Madajazzcar, the Madagascar International Jazz Festival is held annually in the capital and several provincial towns. For ten days, you can see Malagasy jazz greats, but also international guests from the US, Switzerland, Germany, France, South Africa, Mauritius, and Réunion. Many free concerts are held in the heart of the Garden of Antaninarenina.1 November : All Saints' Day (national)
In Madagascar, even All Saints' Day has a festive ambiance. It is the day when families meet to clean and decorate graves before seeking the blessing of their ancestors. In the Highlands of Madagascar, the rite of ‘turning the dead' (Famadine in Malagasy) is held every five or ten years: the Malagasy unearth their dead to celebrate the day with them.25 December : Christmas (national)
As 75% of the Malagasy are Christian, they traditionally celebrate Christmas with the means they have available. Sometimes the Dadabe Noely (the Malagasy Father Christmas) distributes candy to children and, of course, everyone gets out their new clothes for morning mass.
|Month||Min. Average Temperature (°C/F°)||Max. Average Temperature (°C/F°)||Average Rains (MM)||Best Time to Travel|
|January||17/63||27/81||274/10.8||Not the best period to go|
|February||17/63||27/81||279/11||Not the best period to go|
|March||17/63||27/81||204/8||Not the best period to go|
|April||15/59||26/79||65/2.5||Not the best period to go|
|May||13/55||24/75||23/0.9||Good period to go|
|June||10/50||22/72||8/0.3||Good period to go|
|July||10/50||21/70||11/0.4||Good period to go|
|August||10/50||22/72||10/0.3||Good period to go|
|September||11/52||24/75||11/0.4||Good period to go|
|October||13/55||27/81||76/3||Good period to go|
|November||15/59||28/82||188/7.4||Not the best period to go|
|December||17/63||28/82||310/12.2||Not the best period to go|
The Ivato International Airport is located 15 kilometres northwest of Antananarivo. The main airport of the island, it is also called the Madagascar Airport or the Tana Airport.
The city's road network remains out of date and insufficient considering the population. Public transportation is limited to minibuses. In addition, recurrent security issues in the city (primarily theft) encourage prudence, both day and night.
Traffic is very dense and it is difficult for a foreigner to navigate the city. Note: priority is given to cars on the left in Antananarivo.
Taxis, which are numerous, remain the simplest solution for tourists to navigate the city. As there is no meter, you have to negotiate the fare before departure. The minimum fare is 3,000 MGA for a journey of a few hundred metres and the average price is about 10,000 MGA. Taxis are an essential means of transportation for safe travel.
These minibuses run from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. without specific timetables. They are, however, hardly practical for tourists: the stops are not indicated and the names of the districts traversed are given only orally in Malagasy. Price: 400 MGA in the city and between 700 and 1,000 for the outlying areas.
Once you arrive in Antananarivo, don't hesitate to get in touch with tourism professionals for information and help in organising your stay.Ortana Regional Tourism Office
There are several French doctors at the military hospital of Antananarivo (Soavinandriana Hospital) that is well equipped and efficient. For emergencies, you can also contact the following (private) establishments, which include generalists and specialists: Le Centre médical de diagnostic et d'urgences (French and Malagasy doctors) and l'Espace médical. However, medical infrastructure remains inadequate over much of the island. For your stay, it is better to acquire a repatriation insurance policy.Vaccination
There are no mandatory vaccinations, except for yellow fever if you have previously gone through an infested area. It is also recommended to have updated vaccines as usually required (diphtheria, tetanus and polio, hepatitis A and B). Vaccines against typhoid and rabies may be advised if you are planning a long trip outside of the usual tourist centres. Due to the presence of malaria on the entire island, a treatment must be prescribed by your doctor.
For more information, contact the Air France Vaccination Centre:
Peel your fruit, drink only pasteurized or boiled milk, do not use ice cubes or drink fresh squeezed juices, make sure that all meats, fish, and crustaceans are well cooked, and wash your hands frequently.Water
It is strongly advised not to drink the tap water. Instead, drink water from sealed bottles that you open yourself or that are opened in front of you, or drink water that has been made drinkable with, for example, a water purification tablet.
Travellers must hold a passport valid six months after return date and containing at least two free pages. A visa is mandatory and can be obtained upon arrival at the airport at customs. Visas for less than 30 days cost 111 995 MGA. You will need to provide two passport photos, an individual record of health declaration, and a return ticket. Note: a tourist tax of 36 127 MGA must now be paid by any foreigner arriving in Madagascar.
To enjoy peace of mind during your stay in Antananarivo, visit the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of your country.
There are no concrete rules on tipping, but it is customary to leave a tip when the service is appreciated.