We are so lucky, our February break corresponds perfectly with the Sauti Za Busara music festival, a week-long festival celebrating the best of East African Music. The festival kicks off right here in Stone Town and then travels to various points around the island- hence the booked hotel rooms and heavy tourism.
Zanzibar has its own unique blend of music called Tarab music. It is a blend of Arabic and Swahili, very unique to the island. We were fortunate enough to see a concert by Bi Kidude, the mother of Tarab music. She reminded me of Nina Simone, the way she sauntered and swayed on stage. Kidude had to have been at least 90 years old and going strong. After this performance there were a series of films presented at a nearby cafe chronicling the music on the island as well as her life story.
The music festival was also a great way to support local artists and artisans. There were so many vendor booths set up with goods from jewelry, to carvings, to batik prints and clothes and artwork. Granted, yes, you will pay more considering the large gathering of tourists, but haggling is expected and at the end of the day, the American dollar converted so well, I didn't mind being taken from time to time, it puts food in people's mouths.