This is one of Ethiopia’s largest festivals. In the days leading up to the event on 30 November, thousands of pilgrims arrive and sleepy Aksum truly awakens. Celebrations start in front of the Northern Stelae Field, where the monarchs of the Orthodox church line the steps and watch performers in the street below.
For an unforgettable experience make your way to the compound of the St Mary of Zion church between 1am and sunrise on the day of the festival and witness a sea of white-robed pilgrims curled up asleep. Standing among the slowly shifting sea are a few scattered priests reading by candlelight.