Libya’s many festivals focus on tradition, culture, Islamic holy days, and the anniversaries of important development in the country’s history. Most of the events are based around Tuareg and Berber societies and are a real treat for visitors fascinated by the desert dwellers and their incredible history. Favorites include the Ghadarmes Festival and the newly-introduced Liberation Day, marking the fall of Gaddafi.
Held annually between December and January in Libya, this unique event takes place amongst the spectacular scenery of the Jebel Acucus basalt monoliths in the heart of the Sahara. Expect a variety of musical performances at sunset, breaking the stunning silence of the great desert and giving an iconic atmospheric experience.
Nalut Spring Festival
The March Nalut Spring Festival is another traditional celebration in Libya featuring local cultural events and performances including parades as well as nightly dance shows. The setting in the mountainous Jebel Nafusa region adds to the charm of this three-day event.
Zuwarah Awessu Festival
The hot summer season in beachside Zuwarah welcomes this August festival based on age-old pagan rites including ritual sea bathing for tribes and their animals. Once performed nude, the bathing portion of the ceremonies has been adjusted to suit the Islamic moral code and now features clothed swimming and sailing races as well as folk dances, music and traditional foods.
Eid el Fitr
Eid el Fitr is the three-day, fast-breaking festival held at the end of the holy month of Ramadan during which Muslims fast from sun-up to sundown. It’s held according to the Islamic calendar, with the dates shifting between summer and autumn for the joyous, family and food-oriented celebration.
The three-day Ghadames Festival takes place every October and is one of the best-loved Saharan celebrations of the Tuareg and Barber people living in Western Libya. Expect feasting, dancing, musical performances, horse and camel races and other traditional contests, with the heart of the old city turned into a vast market for newly-harvested dates.
The newly started Liberation Day is held on October 23, the exact day in 2011 when the Libyan people broke free from the tyrannical rule of the Gaddafi family. It’s a national holiday, marked in Tripoli and across the land with gatherings in Martyrs’ Square and other city and town centers.
Islamic New Year
The Islamic New Year falls around November depending on the Islamic calendar and is widely celebrated as a national holiday. Visits to mosques and family time are highlights.
The dates of the three-day Ghat Festival alternate annually between November and December, but its setting in an ancient Tuareg oasis medina ensures an unrivalled cultural experience. Expect camel races, a huge outdoor market selling everything from crafts to livestock, music, dancing and feasting as highlights.