• Local's Guide To Egypt

9 Cultural Venues in Cairo for Music, Art, Film and Egyptian Folklore


Cairo is full to the brim with restaurants, cafes, ahwas, malls and cinemas, which is where we locals spend 95% of our going out leisure time. But there’s actually a lot more to Cairo than just food, coffee and blockbuster movies -- you just need to know the right places to look.


So if you’re in the mood to go down a more cultural route for your next night out, these nine venues might have just what you’re looking for.



1. Zawya Arthouse Cinema


Zawya arthouse cinema. 9 Cultural Venues in Cairo for Music, Art, Film and Egyptian Folklore

Location: Downtown


Go for: independent films and other movies not aired in Egypt’s mainstream cinemas


Zawya opened its doors in 2014 in Cairo’s historic Cinema Odeon and is touted as Egypt’s first ‘arthouse cinema’.


Different than the rest of Egypt’s cinemas which are heavy on Hollywood and Sobky movies, Zawya prides itself on airing independent films, both Egyptian and international, alongside documentaries, short films and experimental work, most of which never see the light of day in Egypt’s mainstream cinemas.


Besides regular screenings, Zawya also helps promote local and Arab filmmakers through events, discussions and masterclasses.


Make sure you also check out their film festivals and ‘spotlight’ artist events (for example, they recently had a night dedicated to Youssef Chahine’s short films).



2. Room Art Space & Cafe


Room Art Space and Cafe. 9 Cultural Venues in Cairo for Music, Art, Film and Egyptian Folklore

Location: Garden City & New Cairo


Go for: live music (jazz, tribute bands, folkloric music), karaoke, open mic nights


This cafe and performance art venue “offers professionals and aspiring artists -as well as lovers of the arts- a space to create, collaborate, perform and share ideas over freshly brewed coffee.”


Room have almost daily live events, varying from stand-up comedy to live music to film screenings in both English and Arabic.



3. Darb 1718


Darb 1718. 9 Cultural Venues in Cairo for Music, Art, Film and Egyptian Folklore

Location: Old Cairo (behind the Hanging Church and Amr Ibn Aas mosque)


Go for: artisanal workshops and live events


Founded in 2008, this non-profit organization is a contemporary art and culture center in the heart of Old Cairo.


Darb 1718 offers art exhibition spaces, theater, dance and concert stages, an outdoor cinema, gardens and rooftops and even an artist residency to accommodate international artists.


Artisanal workshops offered: pottery, leather wallet making, Arabic calligraphy, vintage photo album making, sketching, mosaics, film editing, soap making and much more.



4. Cairo Opera House


Cairo Opera House. 9 Cultural Venues in Cairo for Music, Art, Film and Egyptian Folklore

Location: Zamalek


Go for: live performances


Undoubtedly the most famous on the list, the Cairo Opera House has been the bastion of cultural events in the capital for decades now.


It has several different halls and theatres for all sorts of performances, and in any given month you’ll find a packed schedule: choir, ballet, opera, flamenco, ensemble groups, folkloric music, orchestra, Egyptian modern dance, instrumental soloists, poetry and much more.


Check their website for their full schedule.



5. Townhouse Gallery


Townhouse Gallery. 9 Cultural Venues in Cairo for Music, Art, Film and Egyptian Folklore

Location: Downtown


Go for: art exhibitions and Rawabet Theatre


Probably the most popular gallery and visual art space in Cairo, Townhouse is a non-profit organization that strives (and succeeds) to be more than just a standard gallery.


Besides hosting visual art, they also have Townhouse Library and Rawabet Theatre, a space for independent performing artists of all disciplines, as well as international residencies for artists, writers and filmmakers.


Most recently Townhouse also opened SAWA Shop, where you can buy Egyptian handicrafts and old books, magazines and art publications.



6. El Sawy Culture Wheel (El Sakia)

El Sawy Culture Wheel El Sakia. 9 Cultural Venues in Cairo for Music, Art, Film and Egyptian Folklore

Location: Zamalek


Go for: live performances & puppet theatre


A Zamalek staple for over 15 years, this performing arts space right on the Nile has been the launching pad for some of Egypt’s favorite contemporary bands when they were first starting out.