Egypt embraces a mix of traditions, from religious and political events to festive weddings and Friday prayers. These festivities align with multiple calendars, with Islamic events like Ramadan shifting approximately 11 days earlier each year in the Gregorian calendar due to the lunar cycle, completing a cycle in about 33 years.
Ancient Egyptian festivals were a vibrant and essential part of the country's culture and society. These celebrations served a variety of purposes, including:
Moulid Al-Nabi, the anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, is a momentous occasion celebrated by Muslims worldwide with great joy and enthusiasm. This festive event occurs on the 12th of Rabei Al Awal, the third month of the Islamic calendar.
On this day, Muslims gather in mosques and community centres to listen to sermons about the Prophet Muhammad's life and legacy. They also recite prayers and Quranic verses in his honour.
Moulid Al-Nabi is a time for Muslims to come together and celebrate their shared faith and values. It is also a time to reflect on the life and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and to strive to follow his example.
The Pharaonic Wedding festival is a unique and unforgettable experience that allows couples to celebrate their love in the heart of ancient Egypt. The festival is held annually in November at the Karnak Temple, one of the largest and most impressive religious complexes in the world.
Couples who choose to get married at the Pharaonic Wedding festival are dressed in traditional Egyptian attire and participate in a traditional Egyptian wedding ceremony. The ceremony is performed by a high priest and includes all the elements of a traditional Egyptian wedding, such as the exchange of rings, the drinking of the cup of life, and the seven circles around the sacred fire.
Wafaa Al Nil is a festival dedicated to one of Egypt's most revered symbols, the Nile River. It ranks among the oldest and most cherished festivals in the country. In contemporary times, the festival features a range of activities including painting contests, poetry recitals, seminars, and music concerts, which serve as the highlights of this annual celebration taking place in September. The event serves as a vibrant tribute to Egypt's vital relationship with the Nile.
The Moulid of El-Hussein is one of Egypt's most beloved street festivals, celebrated annually on the final Wednesday of the Islamic month of Rabbi al-Tani. The festival takes place at the El-Hussein Mosque in Cairo and is dedicated to the memory of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.
The Moulid of El-Hussein is a vibrant and joyful event that attracts people from all walks of life. The streets surrounding the mosque are adorned with colourful lights and decorations, and the air is filled with the sound of music and laughter.
People gather to pray, listen to sermons, and celebrate their faith. There are also food stalls selling traditional Egyptian dishes and sweets.
The Abu Simbel Festival is an annual event that takes place on February 22 at the Abu Simbel Temple in southern Egypt. The festival celebrates the enduring heritage of Egypt and showcases the country's ancient traditional rituals.
The Abu Simbel Festival is a unique and special event that allows visitors to experience ancient Egyptian culture firsthand. The festival features traditional Egyptian music and dance, as well as food and drink stalls. Visitors can also participate in traditional Egyptian games and activities.
Sham El Nessim is a renowned and ancient Egyptian festival, cherished by both Muslims and Christians to this day. Translating to "the smell of spring," it aligns with the season and is observed as a one-day event. Families from both faiths come together for outdoor picnics featuring salted fish, coloured eggs, and onions.
Some opt to take a two-hour motorboat ride along the Nile in the expansive Al Kanater El Khairia garden, where they partake in horse riding or rent bikes, all while revelling in the festive atmosphere that sweeps across the nation.
Egypt's Art Festival is one of the largest art festivals in the Arab world, taking place from August 24 to 31 each year. The festival is a celebration of the nation's creative talents and artistic expressions, providing a platform for artists to exhibit their work and engage with art enthusiasts.
The festival showcases a wide range of art forms, including painting, sculpture, photography, installation art, performance art, and film. The festival also features a variety of events and workshops, giving visitors the opportunity to learn more about art and to create their own works of art.
Ramadan, or Ramzan as it is known in some regions, holds a special place in Egypt's cultural and religious calendar. This holy month, marked by fasting, is the fourth pillar of Islam and is celebrated with great reverence throughout the country.
Ramadan is a time of heightened spirituality, prayer, and community, and it is a cherished occasion not only in Egypt but also in other Muslim nations. Many Muslim tourists choose to visit Egypt during this period to experience the unique atmosphere of Ramadan.
Eid al-Adha is one of the key religious festivals for Muslims in Egypt. This important event commences around 70 days after the conclusion of Ramadan and is dedicated to the commemoration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice a sheep in place of his son. The celebration spans four days, marked by communal prayers, acts of charity, and the sacrificial offering of animals.
Moulid Abu el-Haggag, celebrated annually in Luxor, Egypt, is a lively street festival held a few weeks prior to Ramadan. The festivities kick off with a colourful procession from Luxor Temple to the Muhammad Abu al-Haggag Mosque.
Along the way, revellers are treated to diverse musical performances, and an ornately decorated boat in honour of the god Amun is prominently displayed, adding to the festive atmosphere.
Coptic Christmas, occurring on January 7, is a widely recognized and celebrated holiday in Egypt. It falls 13 days after Catholic Christmas Day and holds a special place in the hearts of Coptic Christian families.
The festivities begin with a church service, followed by a grand Christmas feast where traditional dishes, including garlic, rice, and various meat-based delicacies, take centre stage. Additionally, sweet cookies known as Kahk are prepared.
Coptic Christmas also marks the beginning of Lent and is joyously celebrated, with particular enthusiasm in cities with significant Coptic populations such as Alexandria and Old Cairo.
Egypt's National Day, observed on October 6, holds great significance as a national holiday. It commemorates the victory of Egypt in the Yom Kippur War against Israel. The day is marked with various events, including parades and air shows that honour the armed forces. Additionally, spectacular shows and festivities are organised for the general public, fostering a sense of unity and national pride.
For jazz lovers, experiencing the rhythm of this genre in the sprawling and historically rich city of Cairo is a truly unforgettable experience.
The Cairo Jazz Festival is a must-visit event, where you can witness electrifying performances by some of the world's finest jazz artists. Renowned musicians like Gilberto Gil, Ziad Rahbani, Carles Benavent, Kazumi Watanabe, and Han Bennink have thrilled audiences in previous editions.
The festival also features the fresh and wild modern jazz of EMOJI, as well as the global sounds of Eftekasat and Calima.
Panorama Europe offers an exciting array of films for cinema enthusiasts. This vital festival of European cinema, presented in collaboration with the Museum of the Moving Image and European Union National Institutes for Culture members, carefully curates outstanding collections of new and award-winning European films.
The festival provides an opportunity to view award-winning feature films, documentaries, cinematic classics, and workshops and master classes conducted by international film industry experts.
Cairo Bites is a two-day food festival that brings together nearly 100 exhibitors from Egypt's diverse restaurants. This culinary event showcases a wide range of local, regional, and international food and beverage establishments. For those exploring the vibrant streets of Cairo, it's a delectable destination to tantalise their taste buds. The festival offers epicureans a chance to savour rich cuisines from both local and celebrity chefs, making it a must-visit for food enthusiasts.
Cairo Fashion Festival is one of the most prestigious annual fashion events in Egypt and South Africa. Welcoming over 4,000 guests, it celebrates the diversity of local and international fashion talents, entrepreneurs, and professionals.
The festival draws non-fashion talents, buyers, and retailers from around the world to witness the latest designs and collections from global brands. It serves as a platform for marketing and communication, uniting brands, labels, and designers in various fields, including clothing, textiles, furniture, accessories, jewellery, and cosmetics.
The Hakawy International Festival for Children is a three-day event designed to ignite the artistic and cultural curiosity of children. It features captivating activities, including live theatre, puppetry, storytelling, and educational workshops aimed at fostering aesthetic and cultural appreciation. Held at the Hanager Theatre in Cairo Opera House, the festival extends its reach to Alexandria's Bibliotheca, making it a cultural and artistic delight for young minds in Egypt.
What are some of the most popular festivals and events in Egypt that attract tourists?
Egypt hosts a variety of festivals and events that draw tourists. Some popular ones include the Abu Simbel Festival, Ramadan celebrations, Eid al-Adha, and the Moulid festivals, such as Moulid Al-Nabi.
What is the significance of the Abu Simbel Festival?
The Abu Simbel Festival is held at the ancient temple of Abu Simbel and showcases traditional Egyptian rituals. It's celebrated on February 22nd and attracts visitors with its cultural and historical significance.
Can tourists participate in Ramadan festivities in Egypt?
While tourists aren't required to fast during Ramadan, they can certainly participate in the cultural experience. Many hotels and restaurants remain open, and special Ramadan tents offer traditional meals and entertainment.
What are the key elements of the Eid al-Adha celebration in Egypt?
Eid al-Adha in Egypt involves communal prayers, acts of charity, and the sacrifice of animals, following the tradition of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice a sheep in place of his son.
What is the Moulid Abu el-Haggag festival in Luxor known for?
Moulid Abu el-Haggag is a lively street festival in Luxor, celebrated with a colourful procession from Luxor Temple to the Muhammad Abu al-Haggag Mosque. It features musical performances and a boat display in honour of the god Amun.
How is Coptic Christmas celebrated in Egypt?
Coptic Christmas, celebrated on January 7th, involves church services followed by a grand feast. Traditional dishes like garlic, rice, and various meat-based delicacies are prepared, and sweet cookies known as Kahk are enjoyed.