Voodoo dances and mystic trances: Five African festivals you can't miss

Updated 6:08 AM ET, Thu December 5, 2013
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During Benin's annual Voodoo festival, people from across Benin and West Africa descend on the town of Ouidah for a week of Voodoo-related activities. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images News
It features dancing and gin drinking, and a highlight is a horse race on the beach. Voodoo, or vodun, is recognized as a national religion in Benin. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images News
Every August, the International Maralal Camel Derby takes place in the Samburu region of Kenya. It's mainly a sports competition between both professional and amateur camel jockeys. courtesy
The festival takes place over three days and was originally started to promote peace among different tribes. Riders from different tribes come together to enjoy the party. courtesy
Timkat, or Timket, is a Christian three-day festival held every year in Ethiopia. It celebrates the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan. On the eve of Timkat a model of the Ark of the Covenant is carried by a priest in a procession to the Fasiladas' Bath, in Gonder, where the royal family used to bathe. Courtesy Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images
Priests bless the water at the bath. "After the priest has blessed the water, everyone jumps in," says Lonely Planet author Stuart Butler. Courtesy Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images
The Ben Aissa festival has its roots in the religious and mystical Aissawa brotherhood, founded in the 15th or 16th century by Sidi Mohamed Ben Aissa. Courtesy Abdelhak Senn/AFP/Getty Images
"It can be eye opening if you don't know much of Islam," says Butler, ABDELHAK SENNA/AFP/Getty Images
Morocco's Ouarzazate region is famed for its rose growing industry, and is home to the annual "Festival of Roses." courtesy Moroccan National Tourist Office
Each year, around 20,000 people visit the Festival of Roses in the town of El-Kelaâ M'Gouna . courtesy Moroccan National Tourist Office