There is a reason why Egypt has captured the imagination of authors, artists, filmmakers and poets. Simply the name of the country conjures up pictures of camels traversing the desert, pyramids standing tall in the sun and Pharaohs overlooking vast empires.
In the modern day, Egypt is a stunning country, full of bustling cities and great swathes of uninhabited land. Egypt is awash with cultural intrigue that attracts millions of visitors year-round. Egypt is a great place to visit at any time, but there are certain celebrations that, if you are lucky enough to visit, will be the highlight of any holiday.
One of the best ways to experience this unique country is by river. The Nile is an impressive sight of its own, so travelling along it on an Egypt river cruise is the stuff of dreams.
Festivals across the Nile
Egypt is known as a religious country, with its citizens following both Islam and Christianity. Believers from both faiths come together on Easter Monday to celebrate Sham El-Nessim. This festival is said to have originated in the third dynasty and was originally known as Shemu.
Egyptians head to parks and gardens to celebrate Sham El-Nessim to celebrate spring. Picnics are enjoyed with families gathering and enjoying various traditional foods such as salted fish called feseekh as a nod to the past.
Ramadan is also a celebration worth experiencing in Egypt. You may notice that households are adorned with intricately beautiful lanterns as Ramadan approaches. Some of the lanterns have been modernised to include faces of famous icons such as Mo Salah!
Mystique of Ancient Celebrations
Every October the Siwan Festival takes place at the Siwa Oasis when the full moon appears. The celebration lasts for three days and is full of dancing, socialising and traditional actions. The legend goes that the festival came to be when a clan leader invited men of all tribes together and would not let them leave until peace had been found. After three days, a solution had been found and the festival began.
Visitors are welcome but are advised to be respectful of the proceedings. For example, men and women celebrate separately at certain points and are expected to dress respectfully by covering their arms and legs, as well as their hair.
Festive travels through Egypt
In another look back to ancient traditions, the Sphinx Festival is a five-day event in June every year in El Gouna and aims to educate tourists and Egyptians alike about the country's rich past. The festivities attract artists and travellers from across the globe. With the Red Sea as a backdrop, you will have an incredible time at this festival.
Abu Simbel is two beautiful temples that were carved into the rockface during the reign of Pharoah Ramses II in the 13th Century. Due to the risk of flooding, they have been carefully relocated and stand as two impressive structures near Lake Nassar.
It is said that twice a year the sun shines through the central chamber of the temple and illuminates the beauty within. When this is set to happen, Abu Simbel hosts the Sun Festival to celebrate this unique occasion. If you visit at this time you will be treated to Nubian shows filled with music and dancing as well as visit the central chamber in all its glory.