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Every two years, the city of Dédougou in Burkina Faso plays host to a vibrant spectacle of costumes and masks, as groups from towns and villages all over the country come to celebrate their unique cultures together.

It’s not just limited to the host nation, either; masked dancers and talented musicians from the neighbouring countries of Senegal, Mali, Togo, Ivory Coast, Benin and Nigeria flock to the festival in a brilliant display of colour, sound and rhythm.

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FESTIMA, the International Festival of Masks and the Arts, is the biggest festival of its kind dedicated to celebrating the culture of the traditional African mask.

The event attracts more than 100,000 people, the majority of which hail from West Africa, though in recent years Westerners are beginning to make the pilgrimage in increasing numbers.

Those fortunate enough to attend will be treated to a one-of-a-kind commemoration of the centuries-old practice of making and wearing masks, many of which represent animals, folklore or bush spirits.

It was inaugurated back in 1996 in a bid to preserve and promote this fascinating ancient tradition.

In 2016 the festival will be celebrated between the 27 February and 5 March.

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