Preparations for the 2018 edition of the annual Umhlanga Festival, popularly known as the Reed Dance are in earnest in the Kingdom of Eswatini.

Umhlanga is the best known cultural event from Eswatini, and in this eight-day ceremony, young virgin girls cut reeds, and present them to the Queen Mother (Indlovukazi) – ostensibly to repair the windbreak around her royal residence – and then dance in celebration.

Up to 40,000 girls take part, dressed up in brightly coloured attired – making it one of the biggest and most spectacular cultural events in Africa. It is largely private, but has two days of amazing public spectacle (Days 6 and 7). Dates for the event are announced relatively close to the time as the precise timing of the event is determined using ancestral astrology.

The Festival is set to start on the 28th of August, with the main day (Day 7) set to take place on Monday3rd September. It will be on this day when the main ceremony occurs, with the dancing attended by HRH KingMswati III signalling a public holiday in Eswatini.