Most holidays are religious, and with so many different sects in Lebanon there are plenty of excuses to celebrate. The principal Islamic holidays are tied to the lunar hijra calendar which is about 11 days shorter than the Western calendar, meaning that Islamic holidays fall 11 days earlier each year. Major events include Ras as-Sana (New Year's Day), Achoura, a day of public mourning observed by Shiite Muslims which commemorates the assassination of the grandson of Mohammed, and Ramadan, a month of dawn to dusk fasting. The end of Ramadan is marked with Eid al-Fitr, the Festival of Breaking the Fast.

Mar Maroun, the patron saint of the Maronites, is celebrated on 9 February, and Christian Easter celebrations take place twice, once according to the Western calendar, and again according to the Eastern Christian churches. Secular holidays include Independence Day (22 November) and Qana Day (18 April), an official day of mourning for the massacre at Qana in 1996 in which 107 Lebanese civilians were killed by Israeli shells at a UN camp. More happily, there's a world-renowned 4 day arts festival in Baalbek each July.


Lebanon has fabulous trekking opportunities in its mountains and gorges. It's usually a relatively short distance between villages, so planning overnight stops is not a problem if that's the kind of hiking which appeals to you. There are 6 main ski resorts in Lebanon, offering varying degrees of difficulty. Equipment hire is available at all resorts, and the cost is reasonable.

There aren't many sandy beaches on the Lebanese coast; much of the swimming is from rocks or artificial platforms built on jetties. Of the sandy beaches, the best can be found in the far south of the country, just south of Tyre. There are also reasonable beaches near Byblos and at Chekka, near Tripoli. The rocky bathing sites often make good snorkelling spots; water-skiing, windsurfing and sailing are all popular too.