Egypt has a wide range of festivals throughout the year, most of which are open to the public. From religious holidays to customary celebrations like the Leylet en Nuktah which pays reverence to the Nile River, and feasts of art and culture, there is something for everyone to experience.
Taking place in Rabi’ al-awwal, the fifth month of the Islamic calendar, this festival celebrates the birth of the prophet Mohammed. While most religious events are quite private affairs, this one extends to the streets. Parades and processions take place in most Egyptian cities and there are a host of festivities which include music and dance. Travelers lucky enough to be here on this day will be spoiled with sweet treats and delicious fare from a myriad of street stalls.
Cairo Jazz Festival
The Cairo Jazz Festival brings together some of the world’s best musicians every year in March. Festival Attend top quality performances from some of the biggest names in the business. Held in three different locations in Cairo, the Cairo Jazz Club is the one not to be missed.
Literally translating to “sniffing the breeze,” this festival marks the arrival of spring in March. Most Egyptians spend the day outdoors, either in the countryside or in a public park, where they have picnics with their family. Several traditional Egyptian foods are prepared and the streets are taken over by musicians and dancers who keep the spirit alive.
Leylet en Nuktah
An ancient festival to provide female sacrifices to the gods, thanking them for the bounties brought by the Nile River, Leylet en Nuktah is still practiced today, albeit less harshly. In June every year, Egyptians gather on the banks of the river to have picnics. Some families camp out and party in the streets. Balls of dough represent the number of women family members in the house and the number of cracks they’ve acquired by morning is an indication of the person’s longevity and fortune.
Wafaa Al Nil
Another festival celebrating the Nile River, Wafaa Al Nil or “Fidelity of the Nile” is held annually in September. Many activities take place during this time, including painting competitions for children, concerts and poetry readings. These rituals reflect the Pharaonic legend which detailed how ancient Egyptians revered the river and its bounties.
Alexandria International Film Festival
Held annually in November, the film festival has been happening since 1979 and is one of the most highly anticipated events in Egypt. The goal is to broadcast the works of unknown artists, expand the culture of film and to connect movie makers from every region. There is a competition for various categories in which Mediterranean films are preferred, but international delights are also screened.
This five-day festival takes place in December each year and highlights the best of Egyptian dance. Each year there is a plethora of seminars, choreography sessions, demonstrations and performances. The Sphinx Festival is a feast of tradition and customs enjoyable for all.