Cairo Events and Festivals 2014 / 2015

(Cairo, Egypt)




Picture of crowds at souk (market)Although many of the festivals are Islamic religious in nature, Cairo is also noted for its international book and film festivals, promoting new writers and directors from the region. Don't expect Rio-like carnivals, there are some interesting celebrations, events and observations throughout much of Cairo.

Over the year, a number of 'moulids' festivals take place in Cairo, where the birthdays of local saints are celebrated. Ramadan, during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is a time when everything slows down in Cairo and many shops choose to close early, although the night-time parties and feasting around Islamic Cairo are not to be missed. There is always plenty of things to do in and around Cairo.


National Public Holidays


  • New Year's Day - January 1st
  • Coptic Christmas - January
  • Coptic Easter - March / April
  • Sham an-Nessim - March / April
  • Sinai Liberation Day - April 25th
  • May Day - May 1st
  • Liberation Day - June 18th
  • Revolution Day - July 23rd
  • Wafa'a el-Nil - August 15th
  • Coptic New Year - September
  • Armed Forces Day - October 6th
  • Suez Victory Day - October 24th
  • Victory Day- December 23rd

January


  • Coptic Christmas - held at the beginning of January, this festival sees Christians attend Mass services and feasting, having fasted for 43 days
  • Islamic New Year - also known as Al Hijra, the Islamic New Year commemorates the Prophet Mohammed's journey from Mecca to Medina. It is a chance for Muslims to spend the day reflecting on positive changes which can be made to their lives
  • Cairo Book Fair - an annual event to showcase the art of writing in the Islamic World. This book fair offers nationally and internationally acclaimed books, usually in Arabic, and promotes works by up and coming authors

February


  • Union Day - February 22nd, a the coming together of families each year to share an important meal together

March


  • Coptic Easter - a time to remember the deceased, as well as pray, and takes place according to the Coptic calendar. It includes a feast and family get together
  • Sham an-Nassim - first Monday following Coptic Easter, marking the official start of spring and including a number of public picnics

April


  • Sinai Liberation Day - April 25th, a day of national pride to celebrate the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Sinai Peninsula - following an embarrassing occupation during the Six Day War

May


  • Labour Day - like many other countries the world over, May 1st is regarded as a day of rest, workers of Cairo get to enjoy the spring weather by visiting parks and recreation areas

June


  • Evacuation Day - this festivals marks the declaration of the Republic in 1953 - another modern nationalist celebration
  • Belly Dancing Festival - mid-June, held at the Mena House Oberoi Hotel

July


  • Revolution Day - closely related to Evacuation Day, this nationalistic holiday marks the anniversary of the fall of the Egyptian Royal government in 1952

August


  • Cairo International Song Festival - this festival includes plays, and international performers at venues around the city, to celebrate national music and culture

September


  • The Experimental Theatre Festival - showcases experimental theatre and performances from locals working alongside actors from around the world - enthusiastically supported by the public

October


  • Armed Forces Day - another chest beating exercise that comes with Egyptian nationalism, this is a simultaneous observation of the 1973 day when Egyptian's crossed the Suez Canal to reclaim the Sinai, as well as a commemoration of the former president Anwar Sadat - assassinated while watching the Armed Forces Day Parade in 1981

November


  • Arabic Music Festival - this event is held at the Cairo Opera House, this event celebrates a long tradition of Arabic music with leading local performers are invited to perform in front of eager crowds

December


  • Cairo International Film Festival - early December, attracting modest international attention this festival previews some local and obscure films from across the world. This festival was the first of its kind in the Middle East and has been running for 25 years

Ramadan


Ramadan is the most important part of the Islamic calendar and is not synchronised with Western Dates, so varies from one year to the next. For an entire month Muslims are locked in fasting, which does not permit eating, smoking or 'unclean' activities during daylight hours. Expect Cairo's shops and offices to be closed, streets will be deserted, services reduced and food and drink scarce during the day (outside of tourist areas). Egyptian's take their Ramadan serious so remember not to break the rules openly, but expect plenty to eat after hours.

Eid al-Fitr


Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, the 'Christmas of Cairo' during which three full days of feasting is enjoyed by even the poorest. This is a time for families to get together, but expect to see the odd gory animal slaughter here and there! Many residents leave Cairo for this holiday to visit friends and family.






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