Ramadan is actually a very festive time to visit Africa's Muslim countries. You can even plan your trip to coincide with Ramadan by checking the dates of Ramadan for the next few years below.
Festivities During RamadanWhat I loved about traveling during Ramadan is that every night feels like a party. By 9pm with bellies full, families come out to stroll and enjoy the evenings dressed in their best. Towards the end of Ramadan there seems to be a special traditional festival of some sort happening every night. I was pleasantly surprised in Fez (Morocco) one night when the streets were suddenly filled with every little girl dressed in their finery with henna on their hands and tiaras on their heads.
In some of Egypt's cities, large tents are erected to break the fast at the end of the day and tourists may be invited to join in as well. Food is often followed by traditional entertainment.
Most Muslims will stick to praying 5 times a day during Ramadan (more so than during other months) and seeing streets full of men bent in prayer, is a unique and interesting sight in itself.
Eid al-Fitr is the big celebration that marks the end of the fast. Families come together to eat and exchange gifts. As a tourist you may well be invited to join in the fun. During Eid almost every shop, bank and all government offices will be closed, usually for 3 days. Some museums will also be closed. Restaurants and cafes will usually be open.
When is Ramadan?Ramadan dates change every year because the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle. Ramadan will start on September 1st in 2008 and will end by September 30th (or as soon as the first new moon is sighted). More Ramadan dates:
- August 1 - August 30 (2011)
- July 20 - August 19 (2012)
- July 9 - August 7 (2013)
- June 28 - July 27 (2014)