4 intense Voodoo festivals around the world

This much-maligned religion features some spectacular rituals and festivals – these are the most memorable

5 mins

1. OuidahVoodoo Festival, Benin

Where? Ouidah, Benin. The main festivities take place on the beach near the Point of No Return monument.
When? 10 January

Thousands of believers flock to the beach near the Point of Return monument to receive blessings from Ouidah’s voodoo chief. A goat is slaughtered to honour the spirits, followed by singing, chanting, dancing and beating of drums. The costumes are stunning but the gin which accompanies the ceremony is a little rough. More information

Voodoo doll with candles (Shutterstock.com)Voodoo doll with candles (Shutterstock)

2. Voodoofest, New Orleans, USA

Where? Voodoo Authentica, a shop in New Orleans French Quarter
31 October

Here you'll find cultural and educational presentations, workshops on drumming and doll making, as well as consultations with some of the city’s leading voodoo practitioners. The day ends with an ancestral healing ritual. More information

Voodoo en Haïti - Fête Gede from Cyrille Montulet on Vimeo

3. The Vodou festival of Fete Gede, Haiti

Where? National Cemetery, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
1–2 November

In many ways, Fête Gede is like Mexico's Day of the Dead. Believers converge on the capital’s main cemetery and lay out gifts like flowers, candles and rum as a way of giving thanks to the ancestral spirits for the luck they have brought over the previous year. The Gede are also associated with fertility so the festival also features wild dancing, simulating sexual intercourse. Consider yourself warned! 

4. Festival of Yemanjá, Salavador, Brazil

Where? Salvador, Brazil
When? February 2 

Yemanjá is a powerful goddess in Candomblé, a Brazilian religion which shares much with Voodoo. She is the protector of children, fishermen and sailors. Up to a million people walk in procession, dressed in white, from the Rio Vermelho district of Salavdor to the sea. They carry baskets full of gifts for the goddess, which they place in the water. The procession then becomes a massive street party which carries on into the night.

Main image: Voodoo in Benin (Shutterstock)

Related Articles