For an exhaustive list of events beyond those listed here, check http://events.frommers.com, where you'll find a searchable, up-to-the-minute roster of what's happening in cities all over the world.
Maulidi Festival, third month of the Muslim calendar, Lamu (http://lamuheritage.org/Maulidi.htm). Maulidi, or Milad-un-Nabii, is the Islamic celebration of the birth of Prophet Muhammad. It is celebrated throughout the world, but Lamu's 4-day Maulidi Festival combines traditional prayer with popular entertainment such as swimming; donkey and dhow races; a henna body-painting competition; tug-of war; football matches; a traditional board game, bao, contest; and performances of Swahili music and dance. The event attracts up to 20,000 people, and the narrow alleyways are transformed with twinkling lights and brightly colored banners, while the dhows on the waterfront are decorated with flags.
January to April
Sauti za Busara, February, Stone Town (www.busaramusic.com). Sauti za Busara means "songs of wisdom" in Kiswahili, and this annual festival of Swahili music attracts the best musicians and performers from all over East Africa, as well as visiting groups from West Africa. Most performances and workshops are held in Stone Town's Old Fort and Beit el Ajaib (House of Wonders) over 4 days, and there's a final night's party with DJs on the beach at Kendwa on the north coast. Music is varied, from traditional taarab (which combines African percussion and Arabic rhythms, and uses large numbers of musicians and Arabian instruments) to bongo flava, a local take on hip-hop and R&B.
May & June
Rhino Charge, May or June, Laikipia Plateau (www.rhinoark.org). This is an annual four-wheel off-road endurance car event organized by the charity Rhino Ark Trust, dedicated to protecting Kenya's rhinos. In recent years, they have funded the ongoing project to fence the Aberdares National Park, to protect it from poaching. The course goes cross-country for more than 200km (124 miles), and it's a grueling race through rugged terrain of dense bush, ditches, and boulders. The winner of the event is the team that manages to complete the course with the least distance recorded.
Lewa Marathon, June, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Laikipia Plateau (www.lewa.org). The Safaricom Marathon and Half-Marathon was established in 1999 by Tusk Trust, a London-based charity dedicated to preserving wildlife in its natural habitat, and runners are asked to pledge a donation to take part. It's run on dirt roads within the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and is the only marathon in the world to go through a game park. Lewa is home to black and white rhinos, elephants, a variety of plains animals, and big cats. The runners are escorted by helicopters and armed rangers, to avoid any confrontations with the four-legged residents -- it's a very exciting race. It's hugely popular with Kenyans, who are known as world-class runners, and recently it's attracted more international participants.
Zanzibar International Film Festival of the Dhow Countries, June, Stone Town (www.ziff.or.tz). This festival celebrates and promotes the unique culture that grew as a result of the ancient trade route around the Indian Ocean and the dhow, which for centuries crossed Africa, Arabia, and Asia on the monsoon winds. All nations around the Indian Ocean participate in the festival, and films are judged, critiqued, and shown in venues along Stone Town's waterfront. Additionally, there are contemporary artists, musicians, cultural troupes, and photo exhibitions, and an arts-related program to creatively empower women and children.
August to October
International Camel Derby, August or September, Maralal (www.yaresafaris.co.ke). This annual camel-racing event is held over a weekend around the small town of Maralal in Northern Kenya. There's a short amateur race, when camels and riders are assisted by a handler who runs alongside. Anyone can compete in this, camels are available for hire, and for complete amateurs, it's very amusing as they try to persuade their reluctant charges to even move forward, never mind cross the finish line. Then there's the more serious 42km (26-mile) professional race that circles the town, when local riders don colorful traditional dress.
Africa Concours D'Elegance, September, Nairobi Racecourse (www.concourskenya.com). This is the equivalent of a beauty contest in the classic car world and a competition for quality for restored cars and motorbikes. There's plenty of other entertainment, too, and the day ends with a drive-by of the vehicles.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.