A lot to choose from: On the multitude of Egypt's art and culture festivals

Ati Metwaly , Wednesday 12 Oct 2022

The second half of 2022 brings an increased presence of artistic activities to many Egyptian cities. The current months are characterized by an immense number of festivals, many of which overlap with one another.

Festivals

 

The situation is not new to the Egyptian cultural scene, which witnessed the return of creative dynamism since the dusk of both 2021 and the Covid-19 pandemic.

 In an article published at the end of 2021 entitled “From drought to avalanche,” I pointed to the many changes that took place in post-Covid-19 realities. 

There is no need here to reiterate the list of festivals mentioned in the article or the intensity accompanying them, which continued into the first months of 2022.

The summer has already witnessed many events such as the 9th International Festival of Drums & Heritage Arts (May), the Suez Music Festival (June), the 15th Egyptian National Theatre Festival (July-August), the Cairo Opera House Summer Festival (July-August), the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Summer Festival (July-August), and the 30th Citadel Festival for Music and Singing (August), as well as other events filling the stages of Cairo and Alexandria and expanding to other cities. 

This intensity continues in September through November, with many festivals occurring during the second half of the year. A number of  these festivals were held in the first half of the year. Their shift to fall 2022 is partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic which affected the scene and had a strong impact on planning and budgeting. Another element to be taken into account is Ramadan, which in 2022 coincided with April and which tends to attract audiences to events of a more spiritual nature. 

Whether state-motored or independent initiatives, the audiences enjoy the luxury of choosing from a huge variety of events, from film to theatre, and from music to dance.

In the fall of 2022, September opened with the 29th Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre (1-8 September), the festival being held at its appointed time. Presided over by Gamal Yakout, CIFET staged a number of Egyptian and international plays, and also included workshops, seminars and the Experimental Theatre Club, aiming to shed light on work by young theatre makers from various Egypt’s governorates.

 

Theatre continued to be in the spotlight with Cairo International Days for Monodrama (CIDM), launching its 5th edition between 12 and 16 September. Held under the helm of the festival director and founder Osama Raouf, this year’s CIDM saw the participation of 14 countries bringing their works to theatre stages.

Cairo’s historical spaces offered their stages to the International Sama'a Festival for Chanting and Spiritual Music between 17 and 24 September. The festival is dedicated to presenting spiritual music from Egypt and the world. In its 15th edition this year, the festival was founded and is presided over by Intessar Abdel Fattah with Seham Youssef as managing director.

Meanwhile, the Mediterranean coast presented the Alexandria International Theatre Festival (23-29 September) which until recently was known as the Theatre Without Fund Festival. Taking place across numerous stages of Alexandria, its 12th round was dedicated to the renowned late Egyptian actor Samir Ghanem. Founded in 2008 by theatre director Gamal Yakout, the festival is currently managed by Ibrahim El-Forn with artistic directors being Ahmed Samir and artist Islam Wassouf.