Festive season gets underway in Uganda


UGANDA (eTN) – Invitations to year-end cocktails at this time of the year habitually rain down on us as companies, NGOs, governmental departments, and authorities gather their faithful around them to show their appreciation. Hotels are recording a wave of last-minute bookings keeping their food and beverage departments busy with such functions, while also preparing for the proper thing, i.e., the Christmas and New Year period, one of the busiest seasons of the year for their restaurant outlets.

Most hotels, starting this year with the Kampala Serena Hotel and followed almost an instant later by the Sheraton Kampala Hotel, have now released their programs for Christmas Eve, Christmas, Boxing Day, and, of course, the biggest night of the year, New Year’s Eve.

Prices this year in such venues have – courtesy of a lower shilling value against the US dollar and euro – remained under the critical 100 US dollar mark, generally being in the 200,000 Shilling region per person in the “top of the pop” venues, but in turn creative 7 (and more) course menus and a range of door prizes and other goodies await the patrons opting for a night out.

Those wanting to spend one night or several in the comfort of one of Kampala’s top hotels will also not be disappointed as very special rates have been put on the market over the holiday season, most of which include free Internet; free newspapers; a full breakfast buffet, which in the case of the Serena and Sheraton amount to full scale meals; and, of course, the use of the in-house health clubs and spas to work off the extra food rations consumed the night before.

Security, it is understood from impeccable hospitality sources, will be at maximum for the night, so any visitors to Kampala wanting to spend the night out, are reminded to arrive at their chosen venue early, as vehicles and passengers will be subjected to full checks, and those coming late will stand in queues to await their turn, while inside the celebrations will have started already.

State security organizations have also vowed to be on full alert for the festive season, in part because of the ongoing election campaign but mostly to keep revelers safe, in the city and upcountry alike.

Lodges have mostly put up the fully-booked signs for the key dates, although some space in some lodges might still be available, as it has become fashionable to take the families for a long holiday weekend to the parks over Christmas and New Year. The Uganda Wildlife Authority has not yet released details on reduced citizen and resident rates for entry to the parks but in past years offered a 50 percent rebate as a present to the nation and to make it more affordable for those with tighter budgets to come to the parks and appreciate the biodiversity Uganda has to offer.