Timket is known as the greatest festival of the year in Ethiopia. It is on January 19th, just two weeks after Ethiopian Christmas, so everyone is always in a festive mood.
Timket, also known as Epiphany, is a symbolic reenactment of the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan by John the Baptist. For Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, it serves as a renewal of their baptismal vows.
Timket is a two-day festival, starting the day before, when the church tabot (replica of the Ark of the Covenant) is taken from the church to a nearby location, usually near a body of water. This is representative of Jesus coming to the River Jordan. The tabot spends the night in this location while the priests and other faithful hold a vigil through the night. In the morning the water is blessed and is then sprinkled on the gatherers (or they may chose to bathe in the water), renewing their baptismal vows. Long parades then carry the tabot back home to the church while the revelers sing and dance.
Gondar is a popular place to witness Timket, as the Bath of Fasilidas provides a stunning backdrop for the festivities. Lalibela is another popular location, as is Addis Ababa, where it is held at the Jan Meda fairgrounds.
You can read more about Timket here — – and view some gorgeous images.