Inside Kampala’s untapped entertainment tourism potential

Clay Dance group showcase a dance perfomance  at National Theatre auditorium. PHOTO/GABRIEL BUULE
 

What you need to know:

From dance, music, films, festivals and comedy, with more than four theatre spaces, music clubs, cinemas, beaches, bars and other entertainment venues, a guest who wants to be entertainment

In his book titled Entertainment Tourism, Chi Fung Lam and Jian Ming Luo, stated that entertainment tourism has recently become more popular with tourists increasingly looking out for destinations that can provide buzz and entertainment.

This statement holds true for Kampala. If you have lived in Kampala  long enough, you should know that this is a city that never sleeps. There is always a party somewhere.

From dance, music, films, festivals comedy nights, concerts, among other events, the entertainment tourism is gaining traction. It is safe to say that entertainment, if well-exploited, has the potential to boost tourism.

With more than four theatre spaces, music clubs, cinemas, beaches, bars and other entertainment venues, a guest who wants to be entertainment, you will be spoilt for choice if you visit Kampala.

Emmanuel Mulondo, the secretary general of National Culture Forum of Uganda, explains that Kampala City can become a hub of entertainment tourism, if there is a deliberate attempt by authorities to strategically market the entertainment opportunities in Kampala.

Phinah Mugerwa, the secretary general of Uganda Musicians Association, believes that other forms of tourism can be boosted if they are promoted alongside entertainment, which is already thriving in Kampala and other urban areas across the country.

She urges government to encourage creatives to generate programmes and more regular events, festivals and art spaces to boost entertainment tourism.

Culture and entertainment

Cultural entertainment is not just demonstrated in food and way of dressing but also in music and other sorts of entertainment.

In Kampala, you will be treated to the sound of the drums and traditional music at Ndere Centre in Ntinda – Kisaasi. Here, the most popular events usually happen on Sundays and every Wednesday of the week.

On Sunday, Ndere Troupe takes you on a Ugandan cultural journey through dance and bits of drama in a series of performances dubbed Katika Sundays.  On Wednesdays, Ndere presents Sherehe, African culture celebrated through dance and poetry. Some of the performances include Amagunju, Bakisimba, Tamena, Olunyege, Ekitagururo, Ekalu, Adungu, Larakaraka, Amatimbo and so much more. At the National Theatre on Dewinton Road, you will access the auditorium schedule. Similar events are usually organised at theatre La Bonita, Alliance de Francaise Kampala, Ethiopian restaurant and other entertainment host venues. Kampala City is a melting pot for cultures both in Ugandan and foreign countries.

City in the dark

Major areas in Kampala with night life experience are Kabalagala, Kololo, Ntinda, Industrial area and Makindye among others. Those places are home to several clubs, bars which require no entrance fee.

The pubs and bars offer an experience of music, concerts or international act performances in the city and you will be treated to Ugandan beers and spirits.

Ask your guide to tell you about the events happening at Lugogo Cricket Oval, Kyadondo rugby grounds, Serena Conference Centre or Hotel Africana, where massive events are usually organised.

Kampala has numerous night hangouts but here are some of our recommendations to meet your entertainment needs;

Guvnor

If you are looking for a high end club in Kampala with tight security, Guvnor is the place to go. It is a club setup that offers both international and local music and entertainment. If you plan to visit Guvnor, do not to carry drinks or drugs into the club.

The Wine Garage

Much as most wines in Kampala are imported, the city has a stop centre for various wine brands. The Wine Garage offers an opportunity for revelers to drink to soft music all day and all night. The Wine Garage one of the welcoming hangout in Kampala. Other places include, Auto Spa eco resort, Common Wealth Resort Beach, Munyonyo, Jam session at National Theatre, and most bars in Kololo.

A cultural performance PHOTO/GABRIEL BUULE

Calendar events

If you are looking for Thursday plot, Fun Factory comedy will get you sorted at National Theatre. The celebrated masters of sketch comedy, Fun Factory offer you a dose of laughter inside the theatre auditorium. If you miss out on a Fun factory ticket, catch Comedy Store Uganda every Wednesday.

There are series of band nights organised in various areas with performances from Janzi Band, Abeeka, and Mseto Nation, among others.  Other calendar events includes the annual Jazz Safari, Rolex Festival, Roast and Rhyme, Blankets and Wine, Uganda Film Festival, Enkuuka y’omwaaka, the list is endless.

More to entertainment

While in Kampala, do not miss an opportunity to see monuments, visit places of worship and cultural centres. Kabaka’s palace in Mengo, which is the face of one of Uganda’s ethnic groups -the Buganda Kingdom, the home of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, is a site worth visiting.

Do not miss the magnificent places of worship such as Namirembe Cathedral also known as Saint Paul’s Cathedral, the oldest cathedral, Rubaga Cathedral, Uganda National Mosque located on Old Kampala Hill, Baha’i worship centre and other temples.

Kabaka’s Lake also known as Kayanja ka Kabaka is one of places you should visit. It is the biggest man-made lake in Uganda that was reportedly dag by 52 clans of Buganda between 1885 and 1888, during the reign of Ssekabaka Daniel Basamula Ekkele Mwanga II.

Security

Just like in any other city, personal security in Kampala is paramount. The first line of defense is always have a guide. Talking transport, Kampala is home to mini vans which are public, special hire cars and motorcycles commonly known as boda bodas. There is an option to access transport digitally and this can be done by using mobile apps such as Safe boda and Uber, among others. The best way to navigate the city at night is to hire a local guide

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