Top Events

Chamare Day, August

Wildlife Watching, September

Scuba Diving, November

Lake of Stars Music Festival, October

Mt Mulanje Porters Race, July

January

Subtropical Malawi starts the year deep in the rainy season; humidity in January and February is well over 80%. Precipitation clears the haze from the air and sees orchids bloom on the Viphya Plateau.

Viphya Orchid Weekend

Among the forests of the Viphya Plateau, Luwawa Forest Lodge has a calendar of annual events that begins with a weekend focusing on the plateau's profuse orchids.

February

The middle of the November-to-April rainy season. Think carefully about your travel plans: the climate is hot and steamy, rainfall and the risk of malaria are highest, and some reserve roads become impassable.

April

The end of the wet season. Not a great time for wildlife watching, as animals disappear into the well-watered vegetation, but the last opportunity until September to see migratory birds.

May

The beginning of the dry season, with mild temperatures before the winter cold hits higher areas. Good walking weather; wildflowers bloom on the Nyika Plateau.

June

Until August, log fires burn in areas such as Nyika, the Viphya Plateau and Mt Mulanje, with frosts as well as Mulanje's chiperone (low cloud and drizzle). Nationwide temperatures average 17°C to 27°C.

Sailing

This is the windiest time of year, which also makes it great for sailing. Just bear in mind that some days are a little too gusty; the wind across the lake can blow at up to 50km/h! www.danforthyachting.com

Luwawa International Mountain Bike Race

Running along the ridges of the Viphya Mountains, this tough 50km race is popular with experienced South African riders. Like them, after crossing the finish line you can tackle the three-day wilderness trail down to Lake Malawi.

July

Lake Malawi International Sailing Marathon

This week-long June–July sailing extravaganza on Lake Malawi – claimed by promoters to be one of the longest freshwater sailing competitions in the world – covers about 500km, from Mangochi in the south to the Chintheche Strip in the north.

Mt Mulanje Porters Race

Originally only for Mt Mulanje porters, this 22km rocky run across rivers and gorges to the 2500m-high Chambe Plateau now has an international following. Hikers typically take around 13 hours to finish the route; the runners do it in three.

August

Chamare Day

Mua's Kungoni Centre of Culture & Art is fascinating year-round, but this celebration of Malawian culture sends it into overdrive, with performances of Chewa, Yao and Ngoni song, dance and theatre. Courses on history and culture are also offered in this century-old Roman Catholic mission.

Cape Maclear Triathlon

Inaugurated in 2015, this swimming, cycling and running contest includes both the lake and the national park, and the weekend in late August puts Cape Maclear in a party mood. Proceeds go to local NGOs and charities.

Malipenga Dance Season

Around northern towns such as Nkhata Bay, Tonga locals celebrate the end of the harvest with malipenga dances. Malipenga imitates military drills, having been devised by northerners who fought alongside the British in WWI.

September

With humidity around 50% and high temperatures averaging 25°C to 37°C, September and October are the final months of the dry season and a great time to visit.

Wildlife Watching

Vegetation is sparse after four parched months of dry season, making it easier to spot animals in the bush. The thirsty conditions draw predators and prey alike to the water holes and riverbanks of Malawi's great wildlife reserves, Majete, Liwonde and Nkhotakota. www.african-parks.org

Beach Life

Beach towns such as Cape Maclear and Nkhata Bay are bustling with travellers enjoying diving, snorkelling, kayaking, boat trips to feed the fish eagles, and chilling at the lodges. www.aquaafrica.co.uk

October

Lake of Stars Music Festival

One of the region’s largest spectacles, this three-day music festival features live acts from around Africa and Europe. It takes place in a different lakeshore venue each year, with proceeds benefiting charity.

Likoma Festival

In the spirit of bringing the mountain to Mohammed, Malawi's largest desert island brings the party to its shores by organising a barbecue- and music-packed lake cruise from Monkey Bay, for a weekend of cultural performances and beach sports.

Birdwatching

October to April are the best months for birdwatching, with the most migratory visitors passing through. Until January, Böhm’s bee-eaters are found in Liwonde National Park.

Blantyre Arts Festival

Normally held over three or four days in October, this multidisciplinary cultural festival has featured performers from Namibian singers to Jamaican dub poets. It didn't take place in 2016, but it will hopefully return in 2017.

Malawi Fashion Week

Launched in 2012, the annual event displays the threads and celebrates the talent of Malawi's fashion houses. Tickets to the one-day show start around MK15,000, and 2016's event included a whiskey tasting, a cigar bar and a charity auction. It normally takes place in Lilongwe.

November

The beginning of the rainy season, but falls are certainly not consistent and the rains seem to start later every year, making this a feasible month for beach time and activities.

Scuba Diving

September to December are the best months to dive Lake Malawi, as you can see the cichlids' complex mating rituals and mouth brooding (oral incubation of their offspring). Visibility is also better before rains fatten the rivers, causing them to wash silt into the lake.

December

The rainy season begins in earnest, bringing storms flickering across the lake, thundering waterfalls in places such as Livingstonia, and abundant birdlife and vegetation. Although droughts make conditions unpredictable, the rains generally last until April.

Christmas

Malawi is predominantly Christian (its Muslim minority is found mainly in the south) and at Christmas, as at most events, the locals happily clink bottles of their beloved Carlsberg Green. A festive atmosphere reigns in tourist towns such as Cape Maclear and Nkhata Bay.