The local events space in Rwanda has been growing gradually, with more new events popping up. But it has also been faced with sponsorship woes, which have led to many once-promising events disappearing.
During the tough pandemic lockdown times a few annual events like the Ubumuntu Art Festival, the Urusaro International Women Film Festival and the Mashariki African Film Festival took the bold step to virtual in a bid to stay relevant and consistent.
But others like the Rwanda Christian Film Festival last appeared in 2019 and have since gone mute. Organisers of the Rwanda Film Festival had announced its return this year, but nothing has been seen so far.
The Urusaro International Women Film Festival recently confirmed its return and will stage a physical event, its seventh edition, from October 4 to 11.
Annual fashion events have also felt the impact of limited sponsorship and the pandemic. Organisers of the Kigali Fashion Week, whose last physical staging was in 2019, told Rwanda Today that the event's annual calendar has been affected by sponsorship challenges.
The Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Kigali was another event that had opened its doors in 2019 but was cut short by the pandemic lockdown.
It resurfaced in July 2021 virtually through KC2 Television and in May 2022 with a physical staging. June saw another awakening of local fashion with the Collective Rw-Week of Fashion, which made a return since taking a break in 2019, with its grand finale that featured 16 fashion designers from Africa, the Caribbean and the UK.
After close to six years of break, Dinner en Blanc successfully returned in June. The Kigali Up Music Festival, an event that once shook the scene but had taken a break for close to six years, also returned in August.
More, still promising to return, include the Kigali International Comedy Festival, which disappeared in 2019, and Seka Fest, which was last staged virtually in 2021.
Bralirwa Limited has phased out two of its mega annual events. They include the Primus Guma Guma Super Star, a musical competition that lasted for eight seasons, and that will be remembered for its free national-wide music tours and the Mutzig Beer Fest, an annual beer celebration that bowed out in 2017 after five editions.
Other big-stage events that haven’t been heard of include the East African Nights of Tolerance, a contemporary dance event last held in 2019; the Hobe Festival, Shyuha Festival, Happy People, Jambo Beach Party, Black Party, Iwacu Musical Festival, Kigali Praise Fest, the Kigali Summer Fest and the Kigali Blankets and Wine, which was staged once season in 2017.