Festivals and Events
The vast majority of Egypt’s population is Muslim and a number of Islamic celebrations are held throughout the year, namely Ramadan and Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) though the devout Coptic Christian minority observe holidays such as Easter. Below is a guide to the various festivals and events held throughout 2017.
Abu Simbel Sun Festival
The spectacular temples of Abu Simbel were built so that on two days of the year the sun would align and illuminate the inner sanctum of the temple. These dates mark the date of King Ramses II’s ascension to the throne – 21st February – and his birthday – 21st October. It’s an incredible phenomenon to witness and a perfect time to visit Abu Simbel.
In 2017 Ramadan will start on 27th May and will continue for 30 days until 25th June. Most Egyptians usually become more holy during this month, visiting their mosque more regularly and reading as much of the Koran as possible. At night you will find a very festive atmosphere especially in major Egyptian cities. People usually go out after breaking their fast to coffee shops, sporting clubs or big hotels. Often you will see oriental tents set up outside these places where shisha, food and drinks (no alcohol) are served all night with live music, Sufi dancing and traditional dancing. These parties go on all night till just before sunrise when people have their second big meal called ‘El Sohour’ which will help them fast for the next day. At this time of year services will be slower, opening hours reduced and traffic chaotic but it is likely that you will witness and often experience the true hospitality, generosity and kindness that the holy month of Ramadan brings to the nation.
Eid El Adha
Also known as the Feast of Sacrifice, the festival of Eid El Adha commerorates the willingness of Ibrahim to follow Allah’s command to sacrifice his son Ishmael. The festival lasts for four days and during this time families share the meat from a sacrificed animal between themselves, relatives and the poor. In 2017 Eid El Adha begins on the 31st August.
To help plan your 2017 visit to Egypt, here’s an overview of the year’s festivals and events.
February 21st – Abu Simbel Sun Festival (Abu Simbel)
May 27th – June 25th – Ramadan (countrywide)
August 31st – Eid El Adha (countrywide)
October 21st – Abu Simbel Sun Festival (Abu Simbel)
There’s also a number of national holidays in Egypt and on these dates many businesses and some tourist sites will close for the day so plan your visit accordingly.
Tourist Site Closures
At present there are no planned closures of tourist sites in Egypt but recently closing times for major attractions in Cairo, Aswan and Luxor have changed to 4pm with the exception of Luxor Temple which is open until 8pm during the week.