The celebration of the Malagasy New Year is held annually in March. Locals dance and revel to traditional music and share feasts to celebrate the occasion. Alahamady roughly translated means the first day of the Malagasy month and the celebration lasts for two days. Each year, a celebratory procession travels across the 12 hills and part of the ceremony includes a ritual sharing of meat from local cattle which is thought to keep family and community ties strong; this kinship bond is called fihavanana in Madagascar and it is a core feature of the Malagasy culture. The festival is not well-known among foreigners and visitors shouldn't expect the lavish New Year celebrations that are major events on the tourist calendar; by comparison Madagascar's celebrations are localised and strongly traditional in flavour. Travellers who are interested in the local culture may well find the event fascinating but people seldom travel to the island just to partake in the festival. If you are in Madagascar for the New Year celebration, the best place to enjoy all the ceremony is in the capital city, or the royal stronghold of Ambohimanga.
Date: 11 - 12 March 2013