To talk about the popular festivals in Oman, we must know that many of their festivities are related to Islam. However, there is also a Christian minority and a Hindu minority, as well as branches such as Sunniism and Shiism, which mark the events in this country.
As we've already mentioned, most of the popular festivals in Oman have a religious origin. But it must also be added that this country practices its own interpretation of Islam, which makes it more open and tolerant. This is something which you will notice in the different events and festivals which take place in the country.
On the other hand, making a month-by-month festive calendar of the most important festivals in Oman is impractical, since most of the important events are concentrated in a few specific months of the year. Let's see, then, what the most important popular festivals in Oman are and what they consist of.
Masqat or Muscat is the largest city in the country, and it is here where, between January and February, one of the most popular festivals in Oman is celebrated: the Muscat Festival. This festival is the perfect place to get to know the culture of Oman more closely and to share with the Omanis their most outstanding traditions.
During the festival you can enjoy countless performances, including theatre, circus, music, gastronomy and camel racing. A whole compendium of events to entertain both locals and travellers, and for all ages.
Isra and Mi'raj
One of the popular festivals of Oman connected with Islamic tradition is the celebration of the Mir'aj, or ascension of Muhammad. To celebrate this religious event, believers especially pray at the mosque and celebrate the night on which their prophet ascended into heaven.
It is celebrated during the first few days of April, and is followed by almost 70% of the population, since the rest belong to other religious minorities, which also have a place in the country.
This is the festival of Oman linked to the most important religion, because it is a popular holiday which is part of the celebration of Ramadan. Its literal translation would be something like the Feast of the Break of Fasting. This celebration ends at Ramadan, and it takes place from the end of May until the beginning of June.
For three days, the Omanis get up early to have breakfast together, marking the end of the fast. Many show off new clothes, and prepare special dishes to share with family and friends. Children receive gifts and sweets are exchanged as a sign of love.
Every 23rd July, the Omanis celebrate another of the most patriotic festivals in Oman: the anniversary of the Sultan's coup over Qaboos bin Said in 1970. This date is commemorated as the Renaissance Day, because it brought a new era of development and prosperity to the country, according to its inhabitants. This party is almost as important as the National Holiday.
Salalah Tourism Festival
This time we go to Salalah, the second-largest city, after Masqat, to attend another event in Oman, one with more tradition: the Tourism Festival. If you are in Salalah during this time, you will be able to attend a vast programme of cultural and musical activities.
For six weeks, and from mid-July to the end of August, both residents and visitors have their place in this massive festival which lasts six weeks. This festival, which was created as a celebration of the rain, has become a phenomenon. Traditional folklore, music, crafts, dances and songs, as well as the typical food of Oman, are the protagonists of this important cultural event.
In September, another of Oman's popular festivals is intimately connected with Islam, in this case Muhárram, or the celebration of the first month of the Islamic calendar. During this festivity, the Omanis, like other Muslims, pay homage to the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad: Imam Hussain.
The Shiites of Oman celebrate this day with special fervour, as it is the day on which the martyrdom of one of their most important spiritual leaders is commemorated. The most faithful believers also fast throughout this month, as they do during Ramadan.
At the end of November, the Omanis celebrate their National Day, specifically, on 18th November, the birthday of Sultan Qabus bin Said, which is why this date has been designated to commemorate the National Day of the Sultanate of Oman.
Here ends our tour of the main festivals and festivities of Oman. Write it down on your travel calendar so you can attend any of them.