Riyadh Saudi Arabia
Riyadh Saudi Arabia
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Saudi Arabia may seem orthodox on the surface with no festivities and celebration of any kind, but it is an extremely culturally-rich land with age-old customs and traditions. The country’s only holidays are Eid-ul-Fitr, that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and Eid-ul-Adha which marks the moment when Prophet Ibrahim (AS) was ready to sacrifice his son for the sake of Allah. These holidays are based on the Islamic calendar and celebrated among Muslims across the globe. Kingdom Day is also a public holiday that is celebrated on the anniversary of Saudi Arabia’s 1932 founding which is based on the western calendar. Fairs and festivals are the best time to visit the country if you want to see Saudi citizens putting their foot down and enjoying their life.

Here are some of the most popular fairs and festivals celebrated in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:

Janadriyah National Festival

Falcon

A two-week cultural festival in the month of February, Janadriyah National Festival is one of the liveliest non-religious celebrations that focus on the rich heritage of the country and everything that it represents. Sponsored by Saudi National Guard, the festival was started in the year 1985 and features a variety of activities including camel- racing, falconry, dancing (Ardah and Mizmar), art and crafts, and military show. Each province of the kingdom has its own pavilion showcasing its local specialities and wonders. Food is plenty with a focus on the varied cuisine of the Arab Peninsula. You can also grab a quick Shawarma from the stand. It is undoubtedly counted among the best fairs and festivals in Saudi Arabia.

Date: 7 February 2019 to 14 February 2019

Type: Art & Culture

Duration: One Week

[Also Read: Top 20 Amazing Places To Visit In Makkah]

Jeddah Summer Festival

Fireworks Jeddah
Fireworks in Jeddah

Showcasing the best of Jeddah, Jeddah Summer Festival is considered one of the most important art and culture events of the year and probably the best fair in Saudi Arabia. It begins right before the month of Ramadan and includes activities like water polo, superhero contest, beach soccer, car- racing and entertainment village for children. Fireworks are the main highlight of the festival. Visitors can taste a variety of Saudi dishes and buy local handicrafts. The festival was first held in the year 2000 to attract tourists but it has now grown to around 200 exciting events.

Date: 25 June 2019 to 20 July 2019

Type: Art & Culture

Duration: 25 Days

[Also Read: Why to Perform Umrah in the Month of Ramadan]

King Abdul Aziz Camel Festival

Camel Race Festival

Touted as the world’s biggest camel festival, the annual King Abdul Aziz Camel Festival of Riyadh is a 28-day event where more than 1200 camel-owners participate from different Gulf countries. With an aim to connect the new generation with their roots and heritage, this event features an eclectic mix of cultural and entertainment activities. Camel beauty contest and camel racing are held with total prizes of worth over 25 million pounds.

Date: 1 January 2019 to 1 February 2019

Type: Art & Culture

Duration: One Month

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Souk Okaz

Souk Okaz

A unique tourist destination in Saudi Arabia, Souk Okaz is a seasonal open-air market located at the very place where this ancient souk existed in the pre-Islamic era. It was once an important centre for Arabs where every tribe would meet to settle disputes, pass judgments and announce treaties. Every year, a number of competitions in poetry and sports are held to revive the culture and heritage of Saudi Arabia in all its authenticity. Various seminars and lectures take place highlighting the cultural value of this souk and interactive poetry competitions are held with prizes worth lakhs.

Date: To be announced

Type: Art & Craft

Duration: 17 Days

[Also Read: Historical Places to Visit in Makkah]

Eid-ul-Fitr

Eid Mubarak

Celebrated with joy and splendour, Eid-ul-Fitr marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. This 3-day festival begins with the morning prayer and lavish meals shared with friends and family. Children receive money and decorative bags from adults. Celebrations may vary from region to region but what remains common is the hospitality and generosity of a Saudi person. People secretly leave large bags of food and gifts at the stranger’s doorstep. Shopkeepers add free gifts to every item you buy from them.

Date: As per the Islamic Calendar

Type: Religious

Duration: 3 Days

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Kingdom Day

Saudi National Flag

The country’s only non-religious public holiday, Unification of Kingdom Day is celebrated on 23rd September on the anniversary of Saudi Arabia’s 1932 founding. Patriotic youngsters come out on roads with flags, honking car horns and singing songs. Roads and government buildings are decorated with the national flag and people wear their traditional dresses. Many Saudis also choose to celebrate the national holiday quietly at home.

Date: 23 September

Type: National

Duration: 1 Day

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Eid-ul-Adha

Muslims in Prayer
Muslims in Prayer

This day celebrates Prophet Ibrahim’s (AS) dedication towards the Almighty and his willingness for sacrificing his son Prophet Ismail (AS) on the command of Allah. On seeing Prophet Ibrahim’s faithfulness, he was sent a Ram to be sacrificed on behalf of his son. Every year Muslims all across the globe celebrate the spirit of sacrifice during this 3-day festival. People like to spend these holidays with family and friends dressing up in their best clothes and giving meat to relatives, neighbours and poor.  Devout Muslims spend their time praying to Allah and sacrificing an animal or pay an organization to sacrifice on their behalf. Eid-ul- Adha and Eid-ul-Fitr are the top festivals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that you don’t want to miss. The festivals are probably the best time to visit the country if you want to see it in all its glory.

Date: As per the Islamic Calendar

Type: Religious

Duration: 3 Days

[Also Read: History behind Maqam-e-Ibrahim]

Riyadh International Book Festival

International Books

One of the most important book festivals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh International Book Festival is held every year in the capital city of Riyadh presenting a large number of book publications in numerous languages. A number of e-books are also released. Visitors include people of all age groups and backgrounds. Different countries are selected as a Guest of Honor every year and given a particular pavilion, to showcase its history, art and culture. Cultural events, literary seminars and workshops are held. Children are also given a separate pavilion with various interactive programs and children literature.

Date: To be announced

Type: Literary

Duration: 10 Days

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Hayya Jeddah Festival

Children in Festival

The largest festival for children, Hayya Jeddah Festival is one of a kind with cultural events, shopping festival, events highlighting the history of the country and folklore. Held under the patronage of Jeddah Government, the festival attracts more than one million visitors every year. Numerous recreational activities for children are organized at various commercial centres and prize draws exceeding millions of Riyals are held. Hayya Jeddah festival is certainly the best fair in Saudi Arabia to visit with your family and children.

Date: To be announced

Type: Shopping

Duration: One Month

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