The culture and festivals in Oman represent a significant part of the background every traveller to the country should review prior to entry. There are some basic pointers pertinent to them, the culture especially, that can help you deal with your trip better. Keeping them in mind can render your stay not only more enjoyable but also infinitely more peaceful, as you shall be able to avoid conflicts with local customs.
First off, Oman is an Islamic country, which means you should be conservative in your dress. Locals are known for being very friendly and respectful, but this behaviour is also dependent on the subject of their interest and how he or she acts and is attired. You have to avoid being too loud in public and you should wear clothing appropriate to the situation and location, i.e. a woman can wear western-style trousers and t-shirts (not shorts/skirts and sleeveless shirts, though) on the streets, but shall have to wear a headscarf if seeking entry to a mosque. While being friendly with locals is encouraged, it is advised not to interact with people of the opposite sex. This is because Omanis live in a society where sexual segregation is the norm: women do not talk to or smile at unfamiliar men and only sit on the bus next to other women. Going against this may lead to embarrassing misunderstandings, potential harassment, and even the scorn of the locals.
Now as for the festivals, the country has several of interest to the tourist. The festival of the eponymous capital is one of them, and it takes place around January-February. While it may be called the Muscat Festival, there is no such restriction in the actual scope of its activities: as may be seen on the roster of events and cultural shows as well as fairs put on for this particular festival, the entirety of Oman comes out to play for this event, with nearly every cultural group being represented. This is the perfect festival to attend if you really want a comprehensive introduction to Oman’s culture in all its vibrancy.
The city of Salalah has its own festival too, and while it is not as large as the Muscat Festival, it is worthwhile to visit and enjoy as well, especially as it comes in the hottest months of the year, when the sweltering torpor attempts to take hold of tourists as well as locals. There is a dedicated website for this festival as well that you can check if you want to know what events they have planned for the year in which you are visiting.
Then there are the theatrical programmes organised by the Ministry of Tourism every winter, from December to March. Most of the performances are given by international performers, troupes, and companies, and are typically a showcase of those companies’ cultures and artistic styles. Finally, remember that where culture and festivals in Oman are generally cognisant of the country’s Islamic character, which means all the major festivals and religious events celebrated throughout Islamic countries all over the world are celebrated here as well.