Ghat Festival - When the Libyan dunes come alive with music and colour
In December, the Sahara is at its coolest, with daytime temperatures dipping to an annual low of 23 degrees Celsius. The world's most expansive desert readies for its festivals of music and culture. One such festival, the toast of northern Africa, takes place in the town of Ghat, also known as Aghat, the capital of the Fezzan region of southwestern Libya. Following the war in Libya and the extinction of the Gaddafi regime in 2011, Ghat has returned to draw tourists.
Music, dances and camel racing mark the Ghat Festival, held in late December. Hailed as one of the most impressive spectacles of the Sahara, it is abuzz with exhibitions of traditional handicrafts and performances.
Ghat, a desert town on the border near Libya's border with Algeria, is inhabited primarily by the charismatic Tuareg, a Berber people who have historically been nomads and pastoralists. The Tuareg are the main residents of North Africa's Saharan interior and live, besides Libya, in the desert regions of Mali, Algeria and Niger. Their nomadic nature does not confine them within borders; they move quite freely across national boundaries. The term Tuareg is derived from the Arabic for 'abandoned by God', a reference to the tribe's adherence to pre-Islamic beliefs and animistic practices. Modern Tuareg have embraced Islam but persist with some of their inherited traditions, many of which are syncretic with Islam and early Christianity, which predates the advent of Islam in northern Africa.
Enjoy these images from the recent edition of the Ghat Festival.