Nairobi’s legendary gypsy Tsavo and Safari park resort is once again a fairly land of holiday lights. This is the 10 year in a row when the brilliant Tsavo resort amphitheatre will be glowing and appearing like a glistering city with holiday lights. From the Sunday after the grand opening throughout the last week of Christmas to the eve of the Christmas celebrations, each afternoon from 2:00-12:00 midnight. This event is not free thus open to only those who have tickets.

Some other events that I benchmark this event with include the 22nd GE run thru the woods event, New year’s Japanese events, Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Visitors Guide, Holiday Christmas Light Displays & Tree Lighting Ceremonies in Los Angeles & Southern California Updated for 2010, and the Holiday spirit glows in Winterfest lighting ceremony on Public Square. These events have been quite successful holiday events and other festivities. The trends of this festival include lighting, nature walking through the park, driving, dancing competition, racing competition, singing competitions, talks and discussion forums, swimming competitions, presentations, poetry work, presenting works of art and artistic works presentations. Others will visit the National park and enjoy seeing the beautiful scenery of the East African Great Rift Valley besides witnessing one of the recently recognized 8th wonder of the world: the beast crossing the Mara River from Amboseli Game reserve to Serengeti national park in Tanzania.

The light show is done by a group of citizens who have seen it  worth to use the magnificence of the sprawling park in a season that brings families and friends together to mark the holidays and a year well lived.  Its main focus is on the strong community values and virtues that all can enjoy irrespective of their background, age or religion. These celebrations of the holiday lights invite corporate bodies, local groups and even individuals to design and mount seasonal light displays along the scenic roads and pathways of the national park and more importantly to mark the end of the year and holidays as they appreciate the East Africans beautiful scenery and wildlife.  These celebrations are made possible by the donations of resources and effort by its sponsors. Those who participated in either building light displays for these celebrations are the corporate bodies, individuals and organizations who work to brighten East Africa’s holidays.


The following individuals, corporate bodies, and organizations mounted displays for the celebrations of the holiday lights in the past. African Homebuilders, American Computer Team, Anglican Church of the Valley, Bomas of Kenya artists, Choir of the young, Planets theatre, Festive theaters, Alliance Francaise, Alliance hotels, Hiltons hotels, safari park hotels, Kilaguni lodges, Amboseli national parks, Chinese folk dances, Korean groups of dance, Brazilians cultural heritage, Redsan, kinondoni choir, ambassadors of Christ choir, Tsavo national park, Farmers choice, Barclays bank of Kenya, Vodafone, Nairobi city council, University of Cairo, University of Nairobi, Kenya College of theatre, Calvary Baptist Church, Christ United Methodist Church, Cherryvale United Methodist Church, Citizen’s Police Academy, Church of Jesus Christ &Latter Day Saints, Community Involvement Awareness, Church of the Good Shepherd, DuPont Community Credit Union, Eavers Excavating, EZ Auction, Friends of the Moi Library, Girl Scout Troop #524, Habitat for Humanity, Fraternal Order of Eagles, First Baptist Church, James Hunt Rescue Group, Girl guide scouts association of Kenya, Country Krafts, Loyalton of Staunton Assisted Living, Honeybees, Messer Landscape, Mark Miller, Mark’s Ball Game, Marshall's Mowing, New Directions Center, Judy Young, Kyle's Towing, Literary Luminaries of Shelburne Middle School, Lynette Miller, Traveling Troubadours, People Places, Inc., Real Estate III, Mask Chiropractic and Acupuncture Clinic, MOMS Club of Augusta County-West.

Sponsors for this event include Local government, Hilton Hotels, Safari Park resort, Tsavo national park and resorts, Alliance hotels, National security bureau.

This event usually has close to ten thousand attendants given that it is held when most people are on holidays. The event length is usually a full week (seven days). This year it will be hosted by Tsavo and safari park resorts. However, other co-hosts include Kilaguni lodges and Amboseli national park as time may deem fit. VIPs, dignitaries, and celebrities are usually in attendance. In the past senior government officials have been close to thirty with their families and relatives.

Terminologies involved in this event: stage here means the podium or in front of the audience. Tsavo and safari park here is used interchangeably to mean the hosts of the event. "Kilaguni lodges, Amboseli lodges, Tsavo national parks" are all tourist resorts in the Coast of East Africa. The amphitheatre in mentioned here refers to the Tsavo national park venue of plays and others. The Masai is a nomad community found in East Africa region. They are among the communities in Africa who have not let the western culture sail away with their traditional culture. They up to date move from place to place in search of pasture and water. Their behavior is called transhumance.

Outline of the Event Elements

The holiday celebrations kick off with the grand opening ceremony occasioned by the senior government officials and then a gospel extravaganza. It involves many gospel musicians from all walks of life. The Holidays lights festival first night kicks off with myriads of the illumination of over two million twinkling lights. As the centerpiece lure of the holiday lights celebration, over eighty blocks of lights paint a magnificent picturesque in Tsavo National park. The trackless train will also offer free rides through the beautifully embellished Tsavo arboretum down the Hell Gate valley to the gurgling water fall of Thomas at the rear end of the park. Those with cameras will also be taken to the Longonot View point where they will be able to have a distinct look of the expansive plains and take photos of the Great Rift Valley that meanders its way from the Arabian Peninsula through the Tsavo Park down to the great lakes. Form here they will be able to take photos of animals such as the Gazelles, wild beasts grazing Buffalos and even lions. The staff of the Park will be hosting crafts for children and families.

On the other side, in the amphitheatre, plays, comedies, contests take place. Musicians come and entertain those holidaying, and many comedians also find their way on to the dais. There are also many talks and discussions by leading professionals in different fields. Contests such as beauty contests, boxing and many other are held.

The event management team is always there to give direction of what is taking place where and when. They also oversee if all celebrations are going as planned besides carrying the overall festival on their shoulders.

Planning Details

The theme of this year is leadership in the next generation.

Please note on the drop off of films, the DVDs must include a bio data of the director, a poster or any promotional material of the film. All films on tourism must be handed in the form of a DVD or a 35MM before the set deadline. All films must be dropped at KIFF office at University way house room 42 Koinange Street or at lenana road Jumuia place near Field marshal Kimanti House.

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The event will be held at safari park hotel off Thika superhighway. The place is convenient as it is near the airport, railways terminus, and has a robust infrastructure including the newly completed Thika superhighway. There is enough space to cater for a 120 thousand sitting capacity well ventilated and with maximum security from the nearby barrack. The amenities here are world class following its recent merger with the globally recognized Hilton Hotels to provide world class event and festival hosting in the region (Barbara R. Levy 86). We have modern swimming pools, well equipped gymnasiums, modern tents and parlors. Security at the event will be conducted by the national security bureau. All entrants will be subjected to a thorough search and screening at the gate. Every participant will also be provided with security guideline leaflet at the entrance. Besides these, the first speaker will give the Dos and Don’ts of the place as a security measure. Several places will be inaccessible by everybody: the security room, IT centre, computer rooms and the backrooms. Security guards will be deployed all day, and at night, they will be accompanied by security dogs. All participants will be registered at the security room at the gate.

All attendants to this event will be hosted and accommodated for the full duration of the festival at the Tsavo lodges. The facility has a bed capacity of over twelve thousand and the expected number of attendants is slightly less than that.

The event will be hosted by the staff of Tsavo and Safari park resorts. Both resorts have given out a total one thousand staff to man the event. Students from various colleges and universities, clubs and organizations besides the elementary schools which have promised to give out their students as volunteers to the event. Individual volunteers will only be accepted after registering and approval of the security department.

Dignitaries and VIPS will be hosted at the Kilaguni lodges near Amboseli national park. From there, they will be transported every day to the events venue” Tsavo resorts. Celebrities and other VIPs will also be hosted in Kilaguni lodges but in different suite form the Ministers and senior government officials.

As for the sponsors for the event, the Local government will contribute 60 percent of this year’s budget. Tsavo and safari park resorts will contribute each 10 percent while the remaining will be contributed by other sponsors listed above as well as well wishers. The financial philosophy of the event is leisure matching your pocket needs.

The hosting of this event has been approved by the National security bureau and security permits have been given to Tsavo and safari Park resorts. The ministry of local government has also awarded contract details to these two resorts for emerging the winners of hosting this year's event. Both resorts will co-jointly host the events of the festival.

Communications & Marketing

The marketing of this event has been sub-contracted to Ad post advertising media. Both resorts have outsourced this, as it was the less expensive alternative than directly advertising them. They have prepared invitations, tickets, programs, placards, escort cards, menu cards, name tags, credentials, awards and certificates, press releases, media kits, paid advertising, personal selling, use of billboards, stickers and many more.

The advertising of this event kicked off some weeks ago in the widely listened Classic 105 FM radio and Citizen TV. The program that is brought every morning in both stations involves invitation and selling of tickets to this momentous event. For instance, in the radio the presenter asks listeners questions about this event and whoever gets it right wins him/her self a ticket to this much hyped event. The TV has been hosting staff from both resorts and even the ministry in trying to communicate more information to the people. Tickets are also available at leading supermarkets, shopping malls, hotels such as the Hiltons and Alliance Francaise hotel outlets. Also tickets are sold at all railway terminus in the country.

Stickers have been produced and many are distributed to cars on the major highways. Name tags have been disturbed to all volunteers and organizers of this event. Certificate of awards, and of participation have been prepared, and the local print media will be of significant use in the publicity of this event. Personal invitations have been sent to all participating groups, corporate bodies and VIPs cum dignitaries.

Protocol & Etiquette Aspects

Protocol or procedure or the breakdown of events in a festival is a key measure of success in any event.  All great events as my benchmark events have a clear guideline in the procedure of events. This goes a long way in time management and resource management. Without a good time, schedule or plans of the order of events the vent is likely to fail as all activities and performances can be done on the first day. Thus, protocol makes see the event from start to the end. Indeed, without it such an event is doomed to fail. Etiquette and decorum, on the other hand, are vital to ensure that order of events is carried out as stipulated in the time schedule. Good manners also avoid inconveniences such as disruptions and helps in maintaining calmness of the event. It is through decorum that order and law is observed in the event. Tradition is the key to such events. Tradition acts as a reference point in all these events. The history of previous successful events is vital not just for the organizers but also for the predictors and more so for the attendants in order to get the right quorum for this event. Planners of this event will rely heavily on tradition as a benchmark also referencing in all they do.

The ceremonial objects in this event include the traditional attires of most African native communities such as the Masais, tools that were used in the ancient times, the national dress/attire, wildlife carvings, sea shells and other works of art that symbolizes how Africa is the hub of tourism and cradle land of all mankind.

The government in attendance will address during the grand opening of this event with the minister of local government officially opening the event. Other government officials in attendance will also be allowed to speak at this time. The events on day one will be the grand opening and then gospel extravaganza will follow immediately. On day two, local musicians will entertain and local groups of dancers will perform (note this will be solely on secular music). The day three will be marked by the traditional dances from the region, South America specifically Caribbean islands and Brazil, from Far East such as China, North Korea and Thailand. Day four will be the day of comedies, skits and plays. Famous comedians will crown the events of this day. Local and international comedians are in attendance. Day five will mark the climax with the beauty pageant and famous musicians rocking the crowd. Day six is a day of schools, colleges and universities. Then the grand finale will be held at Tsavo hall. It is at this event which will be crowned by announcing the Mr. and Mrs. Pageant. This event will be crowned by famous celebrities of the region.

The stage is set to be lit from every corner with disco lights placed high on the podium. The organizers and entertainers will be seated at the back of the stage in an enclosed room. Right in front of the stage will have VIPs and dignitaries seats while the rest will occupy the spaces behind the VIP area. A temporary metallic fence has been erected near the podium to control the crowd. Besides guard will be all in front of the stage and amidst the crowd doing their work in ensuring that discipline is upheld. Beer will not be allowed in the amphitheatre except as may be recommended by security personnel.


Events and festival organization is not always easy. Many are the challenges that planners face. Majorly, where there are many attendants is insecurity is a challenge. This is a taunting task and without a robust security department this can be a major fall back. Besides, an event need proper protocol and arrangement of the order in which events will occur. This will avoid collision of events and help in running the event to the end without boredom. Proper event planning will be critical here.

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