Jordan, also known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is not just another epic Arab country. It has a major significance on a biblical level as well. It is situated in Western Asia, on the East Bank of River Jordan. The same river in which John the Baptist, baptised Jesus of Nazareth; according to the Bible. Jordan also provides a basin to the deepest hypersaline lake in the world; the Dead Sea; in which marine life doesn’t exist due to the density of salt, hence the name. Every year a meditation activity takes place at sunset, at the Dead Sea that lasts from March till November. A trip to Jordan shall immediately invoke the visions of getting lost in the desert, or riding huge camels, just like something out of Arabian Nights. However, in an actual instant, the country is surprisingly well accomplished. It also hosts one of the most thrilling car rallies in the world. Jordan may not be an exotic and fun-loving country like most others, but it is surely one of its kind. Festivals in Jordan play a huge role in society and its culture. Food, arts, theatre, and dancing are the main components of these festivals that create a bond between tourists and the locals. Islam is a main religion in the country and two annual days of Eid are considered religious festivals. On the day of Eid there’s a country-wide holiday, so most facilities would be unavailable. If you want to enjoy the culture and traditions, following are three of the best festivals that can be found in the main cities of Jordan.
Jerash Festival of Arts & Culture (July-August)
The ancient city of Jerash hosts one of the biggest and the most exciting festival not only in Jerash but in all of the country. The festival was inaugurated by the Queen Noor Al Hussein in 1981. Since then it has become a cultural phenomenon of international magnitude. Visitors, performers, and artists from all over the world join there to have a gala of their life. It is a very electrifying environment for meetings between different sorts of artists. Jerash is an ancient Graeco-Roman City, which is reminiscent of the Roman Empire that works perfectly as a remarkable background to this festival. Moreover, vibrant beams and spotlights have been installed that release a dramatic effect on the city’s ruins. It makes the whole experience just impossible to forget.
Jerash Festival is often organized during the end of July and start of August. It is also a very quiet season for tourism because of the summer heat. People get to see different forms of art that last for one whole week. This festival is a showcase of numerous musicians, dancers, singers, folklore ensembles, orchestras, ballet and theatre, poetry, handicrafts, and other art demonstrations. Performances are very well categorized and placed in separation from each other, therefore, visitors can enjoy a stroll through the runic environment of the city. Meanwhile, visitors can stop for shopping that ranges from several handicrafts, food, arts, and books. Vendors are all skilled men and women displaying their handcrafted items such as jewellery, rugs, and clothes. Different objects made from clay, wood, glass, and metal, are also present to serve a purpose similar to a souvenir. A group of visitors can also indulge themselves right in the centre of happening by attending helpful workshops. This festival attracts around 100,000 visitors each year and the number keeps on growing. It will happen again on 19th July 2019 to 3rd August 2019. Such an overwhelming connection between East and West cannot be missed while visiting Jordan.
Aqaba Traditional Arts Festival (February)
Jordan is very rich in culture, this festival of Traditional Arts takes place in Aqaba, a town in the north of Jordan. This festival specifically celebrates the culture of Bedouin people that involves showcasing their talent. The framework of this festival requires exhibitors to be only belonging to Bedouin or other minority sects so they can display their beautiful handcrafted object. The word Bedouin originates from the Arabic language in which it means “Desert Dweller”. While many Bedouins have modernised, there are still some Bedouins left who held on to their traditions. They organized festivals and joined each other to learn Bedouin traditions and share them with the world. Lot of hard work has been done to make this festival happen so attending it feels very reassuring. The additional musical events on the site of the festival are completely free to enjoy which is a rare case these days.
The festival takes place between 2nd February & 16th February of every year which offers average weather that is perfect for wearing an average outfit. The most attractive feature of Aqaba is that it is the only seaport town in Jordan. Scuba diving at Tala Bay beach resort is famous in the whole country. It is strongly suggested not to miss any Aqaba Festival. Visitors can surely enjoy some diving activities while attending the festival. This festival offers complete freedom to its attendee but never fails to surprise. People often visit Jordan with mediocre expectations but always leave stunned. The mentioned rich Arabic culture and tradition is clearly reflected in the essence of this festival. On the other hand, the incredible scene of Bedouin people keeping their centuries-old traditions alive makes us wonder why they are not bothered by first world problems? It seems like they just want their existence to be felt across ages. That is the exact purpose of this festival; to preserve and promote the Bedouin culture in an honourable way. This festival and this particular venue has caused a dramatic increase in tourists since late 2000s. Due to which, Aqaba nightlife has seen growth. It is a blessing for tourists to relax and have a cold one after enjoying this unique festival.
Amman International Theatre Festival (14th November)
Amman is home to a huge number of events and festivals of unique nature. Doesn’t matter if it’s Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, in Amman it is just another festival day. Similar to other festivals, people of Jordan exhibit unique handcrafted objects for sale. Moreover, after following success from the first, this city is also hosting the International Dates festival, for the second year. People get to taste some of the tastiest and healthiest dates in the world. However, the biggest festival of the city is inaugurated on 14th of November 1994 by Jordanian Minister of Culture, Salah Jarrar, and organised by Al-Fawanees, the artist’s union of Jordan on the same day of every year. Purpose of the Amman International Theatre Festival is to celebrate and display local talent. Variety of performances illuminate some of the best inspirational theatre work in the country. This is the only festival in the Middle East that is organised by an independent theatre company. People can find performances carried out in two languages; English and Arabic. This attracts an even wider range of attendees. As a result, the rarest and freshest talent from the country gets an opportunity to show their skills. The format is mostly similar to competitive shows; each performer waits his turn to unleash joy upon the crowd. Typically, a renowned guest of honour is also present to enhance the personality of the festival. This guest of honour is mainly a celebrity who is born in Jordan or having its roots in Jordan. Besides the theatre performances, a series of seminars are also conducting that talk about different implications of theatre.
This extravaganza of drama has established a permanent space in the cultural and traditional lifestyle of Jordan. This is regarded as a trusted platform for ambitious artists to express and exchange creative ideas among the most talented theatre professionals of the Arab world. This free flow of imagination and expression continues to contribute positively towards the artistic atmosphere of Amman. The countries that frequently join this event include Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Turkey, Italy, Sweden, and Switzerland. Therefore, the traditional drama skills mixed with global exposure hugely escalates expression in the final works. Apart from staged performances, different workshops are held on essential techniques like mastering sound, presenting dance, and improvisations. The veterans share their experiences and suggestions on several aspects of dramatics that also add value to finished performance. Very few theatre performances leave a long-lasting impression on people and this festival will surely persuade the visitor to find himself reminiscing this experience.
Before you start packing your bags now, in order to experience these festivals in person, make sure to stop by the German website from Backpackertrail. There you can find more information on what exactly to expect on your journey through Jordan.
List of other major festivals
25 January 2019 – 47SOUL Musical Performance – Amman, Jordan
2 February 2019 – 1st Annual Makeup Palooza Event – Amman, Jordan
13 February 2019 – Opera Gala Series – Amman, Jordan
15 February 2019 – Annual Valentine Party – Amman, Jordan
1 March 2019 – First day of Dead Sea Sunset Meditation – Dead Sea, Jordan
2 – 3 March 2019 – Mother’s Day Show – Amman, Jordan
29 – 30 March 2019 – Jordan Fashion Week – Amman, Jordan
5 June 2019 – Eid-Al-Fitr (National Holiday) – Religious Festival
8 July 2019 – Bhad Bhabie (Opera House) – Amman, Jordan
12 Aug 2019 – Eid-Al-Adha (Day of the Sacrifice) – Religious Festival
Date TBA, October 2019 – Amman Design Week – Amman, Jordan
16 – 18th October 2019 – 2nd Annual International Dates Festival – Amman, Jordan
11 November 2019 – Last day of Dead Sea Sunset Meditation – Dead Sea, Jordan