HIFA Harare International
Festival of the Arts

About the Festival

About the Festival

HIFA is about art, and art is about life.   Indeed art is life.   It is creative;  it heals;  it unifies.   It brings light to where there was once only darkness.   It brings hope to where there was once only despair.

Times are hard in Zimbabwe, nobody can deny that.   The explosion of artistic creativity unleashed by HIFA brings light and hope and banishes darkness and despair.   It enables the people of Zimbabwe to show the world their resilience and strength in the face of adversity.   It enables them to show that this country is indeed unique in its character and its people’s qualities such as hospitality, generosity and friendship.   It is a beacon to the world saying, come and share what makes our country great;  come and share our brotherhood and sisterhood;  come and share our love of the arts and humanity.


“HIFA is giving me a slot to play, but it is also giving me the opportunity to learn. To the artists this is important. To the country itself this is important.”

Former street youth employed by HIFA
“the reference I got from HIFA made it possible for me to apply for my first job. That was 3 years ago and I now have my own small business. My journey started with living on the streets and I now feel safe and like I know where my life is going. HIFA made that possible for me.” 

Craft artist
“I was able to get to know my fellow craftsmen from our beautiful country, share my skills with them as well as being inspired by their work.” 

Audience member
“Living in Zimbabwe can sometimes feel like you’re dealing with a painful illness every day – HIFA is a powerful medicine that makes me and thousands of others feel better and able to face the days and months ahead.” 

Young orphan brought to HIFA as part of our community engagement programming
“HIFA was the best day of my life. I met other young people, I danced, I sang, I felt happier than I thought possible. I rode in an elevator for the first time and met Oliver Mtukudzi. I will never forget it.” 

Audience member
“I am glad to be a part of something I am deeply in love with. And as a young person I know the future of the Arts in Zimbabwe lies in my hands.” 

Audience member  
“HIFA is absolutely fantastic and it is always a pleasure for me because I never get to travel. The whole world is brought to me. Thanks!” 

NewsDay (Zim)
“HIFA has grown to be one of the most vibrant festivals on the continent as it brings together Zimbabweans and others from beyond to witness its continued support of local artistes…” 

The Saturday Telegraph Magazine (UK)
"...to raise millions of Zimbabwean dollars from 55 private sponsors, attract quality artists from around the world, and introduce dynamism, flexibility and optimism [to Harare]…was a Herculean achievement." 

Supplier to HIFA
“It is so difficult to keep going in Zimbabwe at the moment, especially if you are a small business. What we find is that from around the beginning of the year it’s as if everyone is waiting for HIFA. HIFA happens, we get so much business from both the Festival and its backers. This gives us the push we need for the next 3 to 5 months. It’s as if people say, well, if HIFA happened, we can make things happen. From November the enthusiasm starts running down again and we wait for HIFA.”

The Sunday Independent (South Africa)
“The Harare International Festival of the Arts is probably the best organised Festival in the sub-continent and one of the most manageably diverse”

“Zimbabwe: HIFA to Showcase Country’s Endurance”

The Guardian (UK)
“Seven days of fantasy in a city of crushing reality.”

The Stage (UK)
“...for 6 glorious days, against all odds and in an incredibly hostile economic environment, Zimbabweans refused to be cowed. They said what they thought, they stood up for those unable to defend themselves and they made their voices heard. HIFA is a democracy in action and in the new Zimbabwe....the festival will... continue to expand and give hope to a new nation.”

The Guardian
“To see the London Festival Opera singing, accompanied by the Zimbabwe National Ballet, was to witness arias to freedom and a choreography of hope.”



Total number of performances 139
Number of collaborations 16
Number of outreach performances ( free shows performed outside the Festival site) 24
Number of workshops 25
Number of artists participating 714
Number of visiting artists 263
Number of Zimbabwean artists 451
Number of nationalities participating 31
Number of orphans and vulnerable children brought on to site during the week 300
Number of students trained and employed 170
Number of street youth trained and employed 55
Number of people employed (site, general technical hands etc) 1200
Total number of tickets issued 33 079

The objectives of HIFA are as follows:

  • Creation of a world-class sustainable event that contributes to the long-term development of Zimbabwean arts and culture being staged in the centre of the capital city of Zimbabwe to ensure inclusiveness.
  • To showcase the very best of local, regional and international arts and culture in a comprehensive Festival programme of theatre, dance, music, fashion, comedy, circus, street performance, literature, film, spoken word, visual arts, craft/applied arts and workshops.
  • To offer a showcase for the promotion of Zimbabwean artists as well as a forum for exchange with artists from other countries, thereby encouraging extensive networking and exchange, and contributing to employment creation within the cultural industries sector.
  • To celebrate the ability of the arts to bring people together in an open forum where challenges can be discussed.
  • Use of the arts as a tool for positive expression across all boundaries whether racial, societal, political, age or gender based.

HIFA is a 6-day annual festival and workshop programme that showcases the very best of local, regional and international arts and culture in a comprehensive festival programme of theatre,dance, music, circus, street performance, fashion, spoken word and visual arts. HIFA has come to be seen as an important symbol of something positive about Zimbabwe, unifying socially and culturally disparate groups of Zimbabweans at a time of ideological conflict and political uncertainty bringing huge audiences together to celebrate something positive – the healing and constructive capacity of the arts.

Since its inception in 1999, the Festival has received recognition for its support of arts and culture in Zimbabwe and is seen as a major contributor to development in this area. HIFA is now the largest cultural event in Zimbabwe and among the eight major festivals in Africa. HIFA has gained local and international media praise on many fronts, for example, Robert Grieg writing in the South Africa Sunday Independent -“The Harare International Festival of the Arts is probably the best organised festival in the sub-continent and one of the most manageably diverse. More importantly in the current socio-economic situation HIFA has come to be seen as an important symbol of something positive about Zimbabwe”.

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