Due to its rich history, Egypt has a lot of festivals that are celebrated, from Muslim to Christian to those dating back to ancient Egypt. Some of these festivals provide a great excuse to visit Egypt and enjoy the local culture!
Read on to find out more about the most popular festivals in Egypt, how they are celebrated by the people of Egypt, and what you can expect to see should you visit Egypt during these times.
|Festivals in Egypt||Date||Celebrations|
|Coptic Christmas||January 7, 2023
January 7, 2024
|Visit family and give sweets as gifts.|
|Sun Festival at Abu Simbel||February 22, 2023
October 18, 2023
February 22, 2024
October 22, 2024
|Traditional Nubian shows filled with dancing and music.|
|Ramadan||March 22 to April 21, 2023
March 12 to April 12, 2024
|Egyptians fast between sunrise and sunset.
Many restaurants usually will only open after sunset.
|Sham En Nessim||April 17, 2023
May 6, 2024
|Marking the beginning of spring.
Families go for a picnic.
|Eid Al-Fitr||April 20 to 21, 2023
April 10 to 12, 2024
|Breaking the big fast of Ramadan.
Families get together for a big meal.
|Prophet's Birthday||September 26, 2023
September 16, 2024
|Homes and mosques are decorated.
Large street processions.
Families partake in charity to help those less fortunate.
|The Sphinx Festival in El Gouna||Every year in June||A five-day festival aiming to bring back Egypt's ancient past.
Music, dancing, and other educational activities.
1. Coptic Christmas
- Date: January 7, 2023/ 2024
Coptic Christmas is a day off given to the entire population, even those who aren't Christian, with most businesses and schools closed on this day. It has become somewhat of a secular holiday celebrated by the entire country.
On the day of Coptic Christmas, people in Egypt will visit family in their homes and give sweets as gifts. On the morning of, people usually eat Kahk el Eid with a cup of tea, which are a soft and traditional Egyptian Eid cookie.
The date for Coptic Christmas differs from Christmas in the West because of the difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars.
2. The Sun Festival at Abu Simbel
- Dates: February 22 and October 18, 2023/ February 22 and October 22, 2024
Twice a year it is said that the sun smiles on the faces of Abu Simbel, meaning that the sun shines through the central chamber to illuminate the temple in a beautiful way, which is when Abu Simbel hosts the Sun Festival.
Abu Simbel are two beautiful temples carved into the rocks in the 13th century BC, during the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II. The structures were very carefully relocated after a nearby dam project threatened to flood them, making the temples an even more impressive sight to visit.
Visiting Abu Simbel during this time is extra special because you'll be able to visit both temples of Abu Simbel, while also enjoying traditional Nubian shows filled with dancing and music. And, of course, you'll be able to see the temple lit up beautifully and naturally.
- Date: March 22 to April 21, 2023/ March 12 to April 12, 2024
The biggest and longest-lasting holiday and festival in Egypt has got to be Ramadan, which is celebrated not only in Egypt but by Muslims all over the world. Throughout the month of Ramadan, the date for which will differ every year because Islam follows its own purely lunar calendar, Egyptians fast between sunrise and sunset, only eating or drinking during the night. The idea here is that everybody has the opportunity to experience hunger and thirst, in order to bring different people together in their experiences.
The working day is shorter during this month, so you'll want to keep this in mind if you are visiting Egypt during Ramadan. Restaurants might also not be open with the exceptions of larger hotels or restaurants catering specifically to tourists, since nobody eats during the daytime. They usually will open later during Iftar, which is what the meal in the evening after sunset is called. In the evenings the cities will come to life with markets, meals for the entire family outside, and decorated streets.
Suggested read: How to Plan Your First Trip to Egypt — 7 Easy Steps
4. Sham En Nessim
- Date: April 17, 2023/ May 6, 2024
Sham En Nessim, which happens after Easter in line with the Coptic Orthodox Church, is a national holiday marking the beginning of spring that has been celebrated since ancient Egyptian times, dating back to 2700 BCE when it was known as Shemu.
The name of the festival, Sham En Nessim, translates to 'inhaling the breeze' , which was derived from the Coptic language, which was derived from the ancient Egyptian language.
Back in the day, the holiday was related to agriculture, which has always made up a big part of Egypt's economy. Today, you'll see families going for a picnic in the park, going for a nice walk with their families, or going to the zoo. Families who live near the Nile might even choose to go for a picnic near the Nile. The most important thing is that the day is spent with those you love outside.
During Sham En Nessim, families eat traditional foods such as fesikh, a fermented, salted and dried grey mullet, green spring onions, lettuce, and lupin beans. It is also common to color boiled eggs during this time, and gift then eat them to each other. In this there are some small similarities with the way that Easter is celebrated in the west.
5. Eid Al-Fitr
- Date: April 22 to 24, 2023/ April 10 to 12, 2024
The festival that breaks the big fast of Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr is an interesting time to visit Egypt because you'll be able to see the entire country hustling and bustling after a month of fasting. This day is typically spent with family members, eating a big meal, and with kids playing outside with new toys or spending their holiday money Eidi on activities at market stalls.
While visiting Egypt during Ramadan has its challenges due to business hours being shorter (see the section on Ramadan above) and restaurants not always being open during daylight hours, Eid Al-Fitr is a country-wide celebration that is exciting to be a part of.
Eid Al-Fitr also marks when business hours in the country will gradually go back to normal.
6. Prophet's Birthday
- Date: September 26, 2023/September 16, 2024
On the Prophet's Birthday, which likely will fall on September 26 in 2023, you'll see decorated homes, mosques, and large street processions. Households tell the story of Muhammad to the kids, and families also partake in charity to help those less fortunate.
This is not only celebrated in Egypt, with almost all Islamic countries having the day off on this day. This day is important to celebrate because he was considered the last of the prophets and the one to whom the Qur'an (the holy Islamic book) was revealed.
The Prophet's Birthday is a big celebration in Egypt, and people share sweets such as lokum with nuts with each other, also known as malban, or you'll see people eating peanuts and dried chickpeas with syrup as well as desiccated coconut treats.
If you're in Egypt at this time you'll likely be able to see public gatherings and celebrations.
7. The Sphinx Festival in El Gouna
- Date: Every year in June
The Sphinx Festival is a five-day festival aiming to bring back Egypt's ancient past and to educate (Egyptian) people in understanding and celebrating their rich past. The festival is held in June each year in El Gouna , which is a Red Sea town. The Sphinx Festival attracts many artists and travelers from abroad and locally.
You'll find music, dancing, and other educational activities at The Sphinx Festival that relate back to ancient Egypt's beautiful and interesting history.
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