Jeddah is the second largest and most important city in Saudi Arabia. Located side by side with the Red Sea, this cosmopolitan city is often referred to as the ‘Bride of the Red Sea’. The beaches are the pride of Jeddah since nowhere else in the country can you find pristine beaches with scantily dressed women enjoying sun, sand and water. With the unique culture and festivals in Jeddah, this truly is the most foreigner-friendly city in this Middle Eastern country. The city gives you so many reasons to come and spend your next holiday here.
First, come to experience what could be the largest celebration in the Arab region, the Al-Janadriyah Festival. It doesn’t really happen just in Jeddah since it is celebrated in essence all throughout the region, and yet this festival has a special place in the heart of Jeddah citizens. The most important type of dance commemorating Al-Janadriyah is called ‘Al-Mizmar’ and it originated from Jeddah.
Second, come to experience Jeddah’s extravagant summer festival happening in July. A lot of things happen here including musical concerts, camel racing, open shops, food, ballooning and breathtaking fireworks. It’s simply a must-see summer bonanza that happens only in Jeddah. Most shopping malls in the city participate by selling their items on discount.
Third is the festive Eid Al-Fitr in December, which is the big celebration after the end of Ramadan. Islam is synonymous to Ramadan, and Eid Al-Fir is the Muslim world’s main holiday. Ramadan is a month-long abstinence from food and other bodily comforts, while Eid Al-Fitr is a week-long eating and having fun. People eat and exchange sweets, and buy new clothes as part of the celebration.
While you would love to be in Jeddah for the Eid Al-Fitr, you would want to avoid Ramadan if you are not Muslim. Muslims cannot eat, smoke or have fun for one month, and it is expected for visitors, Muslim or non-Muslim, to do the same.
A similar religious festival is the Eid Al-Adha, which commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael. Eid Al-Adha signals the end of Hajj pilgrimage that is participated in by millions of Muslims. Don’t be surprised to see people spontaneously perform a religious dance on the streets during the Eid Al-Adha.
Both Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha are religious public holidays. Jeddah is a very important city to Islam because it is the official gateway to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Most public holidays and festivals in Jeddah and the entire kingdom are influenced by religion.
Other than these four interesting events (not counting Ramadan), a few other events in culture and festivals in Jeddah that could convince you to visit the city are the Islamic New Year on the end of January, Muhammad’s birthday (a.k.a. ‘Mawlid’ or Prophet’s Birthday) in April, the international food festival in May, June’s Ascension of the King, which commemorates the day when the king of Saudi Arabia first sat on the throne, July’s Army Day, and Isra-wa al-Miraj in September, commemorating Muhammad’s journey from Mecca to Jerusalem as well as to hell and eventually to heaven riding on Buraq, a winged horse-like creature.