Mouled celebration © Faris Knight
The most prominent religious festivals that tourists experience in Egypt are the 'moulids'. These are incredibly lively processions that take to the streets of Cairo on the birthdays of various holy men. Although the festivals are not officially part of the Muslim faith, moulids are extremely popular in Egypt, particularly 'Moulid El Naby': the celebration of Prophet Mohammed's birth. The occasions are celebrated with decorative lights, music, dance, ritual chanting and by exchanging sweets, as well as street parades and performances.
In some conservative Muslim circles the moulids are considered 'unIslamic' but for the most part they are enthusiastically celebrated. The moulids generally take place in summer, and blend religion with folklore, usually including wild dancing accompanied by music, chanting and fireworks. Citizens were often banned from holding moulids under the Mubarak regime, which cited safety issues as an excuse to avoid large gatherings of people. Egypt is now trying to revitalise these events and draw tourists back into the festivities as part of the country's attempt to regain its reputation as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
Venue: Streets of Cairo and other towns and villages
Date: July and August