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When’s the next time this is happening? 20–21 November 2018
This festival is celebrated on the occasion of the birthday of the Prophet Mohammad – and you’ll be able to tell it’s Milad al-Nabi based on the elaborate decorations alone, both in people’s homes and at all the mosques. Children are encouraged to recite poems about the Prophet and older generations tell stories about Mohammad’s life and his achievements. Additional traditional activities include large feasts and street processions. The date of the festival varies from year to year due to its accordance with the Islamic (lunar) calendar.
Janadriyah National Festival
When’s the next time this is happening? 7–14 February 2019
The Janadriyah National Festival is a massive celebration of heritage and culture. It is the country’s largest folk festival and it takes place over the course of two weeks in its namesake village of Janadriyah, which is located around 50km (30 miles) outside of Riyadh. This aim of this festival is to be strengthening and reaffirming. Over the course of these couple of weeks, there are countless events, ranging from ceremonies, to folkloric arts, to camel races, and cultural events. Artisans from all around the country display and sell their crafts and Saudi Arabia’s most talented poets recite their latest works to the crowds.
Riyadh Spring Festival
When’s the next time this is happening? March 2019
Be dazzled by spring! The Riyadh Spring Festival, which is organized by the Riyadh Municipality, attracts more than 150,000 visitors to the city. By far the most outstanding attraction is the planting of over 1.4 million (!!) flowers and ornamental plants that, together, form massive landscape decorations.
When’s the next time this is happening? Between June and July 2019
This festival can perhaps be considered the most “tourist-friendly“ on this list. Founded in the year 2000, the annual Jeddah Festival is now in its 19th year. Its initial aim was to attract more tourists to Jeddah, the country’s second largest city and one that is also considered its cultural hub. Over the past couple decades the festival has grown considerably and in its newest iterations there have been a staggering 200 events each time. Some of the must-do things on that list include sampling traditionally cooked food, buying local crafts and watching the massive fireworks from the vantage point of this port city’s corniche.
When’s the next time this is happening? Ca. 3–5 June 2019
This one is not limited to Saudi Arabia because this key religious holiday marks the end of Ramadan and hence concerns every Muslim, all over the world. Eid al-Fitr literally means the "festival of breaking the fast" and Eid traditionally begins by praying in a mosque and then attending a short sermon. Thereafter, people pay visits to their relatives and friends and sometimes visit graveyards to pray for loved ones who have passed away. On this day Muslims dressed up with fine clothes and kids are given gifts. Delicious Food and drinks are a part of the indispensable part of the festivals, the significance of the festival is interpreted in harmony and gratitude to bring people close together.
When’s the next time this is happening? Ca. 12 August 2019
Although this important festival isn’t specific to Saudi Arabia, it plays a major role in the country. Just like Eid al-Fitr, Muslims also celebrate this Eid all around the world. The festivities last for four days and mark the moment when Ibrahim was willing to sacrifice Ishmael, his son, for Allah. Today, most Saudi families celebrate Eid al-Adha by dressing up in their finest clothing and reciting special prayers. Often a lamb is slaughtered as well and its meat is shared with the community.
Unification Of The Kingdom Day
When’s the next time this is happening? 23 September 2019
Each year, the unification of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is celebrated on the 23rd of September, hence the name “Unification of the Kingdom Day.” This is the country’s only public secular holiday and it takes place on the anniversary of the day Saudi Arabia was founded in the year 1932. Although many Saudis prefer to celebrate this formerly downbeat holiday quietly and in private, there have been a growing number of young Saudis who choose to express their national pride more overtly through singing and dancing in public and by honking their car horns and driving around while waving Saudi flags.
With everything from religious festivities to national pride and support of tourism and local heritage and culture, these top 7 festivities form a list of thoughtful and pertinent celebrations that highlight the best reasons to get together as a community.