The Kingdom of Bahrain is a tiny sovereign state made up of 33 natural and several man-made islands off the north-eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, jutting into the Arabian Gulf. Experiencing an arid desert climate, visitors should expect long, hot summers and short, mild winters.
In this post, we will talk you through what to expect throughout the year, both in terms of climate in Bahrain, holidays and major events to be aware of.
From late October through to April, day time temperatures are mild to warm, whilst May through to October day time temperatures can be exceedingly hot, reaching their peak in July & August.
How hot does Bahrain get in the summer?
Peak summer temperatures in Bahrain can reach 46c/114F, so life really moves indoors during the hottest months of the year. You will find many expatriate family’s leave the country at this time to escape the worst of the heat.
You will find there is quite a dry heat at the start of summer, changing to hot and humid through August and September. Relief from the heat arrives by mid-October.
Note that sea temperatures will be high as well. You can expect ocean temperatures to rise as high as 33c (92F) so don’t go planning a refreshing open dip mid-summer (and check your hotel has a temperature-controlled pool!)
How cold does Bahrain get in the winter?
Bahrain is a beautiful destination to visit in the cooler winter months. Even during the term breaks in October and through to April school holidays you will still find it pleasant enough to be out and about exploring, (followed by a dip in a resort pool! )
Day time temperatures come off their summer peaks by the end of October and the weather continues to cool through to January, the coldest month in Bahrain where maximum day time temperatures hit the low 20’s and it can be quite cool overnight, dropping to around 14/15c (58F). If you are heading into the desert you will definitely want jeans and jumpers.
These cooler conditions last through until about April when the temperatures will really start to ramp up again for summer, but there’s plenty of beautiful shoulder season where as long as you’re indoors in the peak of the day it’s quite bearable.
In winter, the sea temperature in Bahrain drops to a chilly 19c (66F), if you’re staying at a resort make sure your pool is heated!
Does it rain in Bahrain?
Yes! It might take you by surprise, but rain is possible over the cooler winter months. On average Bahrain experiences 71mm of rain per annum – your chances of staying dry throughout most of the year are pretty high!
We wouldn’t recommend packing your umbrella “just in case” – but do note that in a country not really designed for rain, when it does rain it can cause roads to flash flood and buildings to leak. Take shelter during these times, the rain usually passes quickly.
Does Bahrain get dust storms?
Yes! Bahrain can be susceptible to the Shamal – a northwesterly wind that blows over Iraq and the Persian Gulf states in the summer. There is also the winter shamal experienced between December and February, these storms may last 3 to 5 days and may affect visibility and flight schedules.
Those with respiratory conditions such as asthma should keep abreast of the AQI if it’s dusty out.
Public and school holidays in Bahrain
Although the country follows the Gregorian calendar (January through December), the Hijri calendar is observed for religious occasions.
Religious holidays in Bahrain
The main observances are:
- The holy month of Ramadan
- Eid al-Fitr
- Arafat Day
- Eid al-Adha
- Hijri New Year (1 Muharram)
- Ashoora (9 & 10 Muharram)
- Mawlid al-Nabi al-Sharif (the Prophets birthday)
These dates move forward on the Gregorian calendar approximately 10 days each year.
You can convert the Gregorian Calendar to the estimated Hijri calendar here (do note though that the exact date of religious holidays are officially announced by the moon sighting committee).
Bahrain also celebrates:
- New Year’s Day on 1 January
- Labour Day (first Sunday in May)
- National Day on 16 & 17 December
Note that the weekend is Friday/Saturday making these days much busier than during the week Sunday through Thursday.
School holidays in Bahrain
Most schools in Bahrain run on a three-term calendar. They will have a winter term (Term 1), take a few weeks off over mid-December to early January. Term 2 then runs through until late March. There is a spring break late March/early April (only a coincidence if it’s at Easter) then Term 3 runs until early July before a long summer break over July and August.
Check out this bumper list of ideas of family things to do in Bahrain here
Major Events in Bahrain
Bahrain Grand Prix
The most famous event on Bahrain’s calendar is the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix (2020 events is held 20 to 22 March). This is the most magical and fun time to be in the city and enjoying not just the race at the Bahrain International Circuit but associated activities across town.
Other family events in Bahrain
- STC Winter Wonderland – Late January to late February Thu, Fri & Sat
- Bahrain Festival for All – 6/7 February 2020
- Taá Al Shaba annual cultural Festival – late February
- Bahrain Rocks Family Friendly Festival – 13 March 2020
- Saturday Market – end of January to end of March
- Bahraini Farmers Market – Saturday’s from Mid December to Mid April at Budaiya Botanical Gardens
You can find more on what’s happening in Bahrain for families throughout the year on the official tourism website visitbahrain.bh
You may also want to check out scheduled events occurring at Bahrain National Theatre to experience one of the largest and most unique cultural entertainment centres in the Arab world.
What to expect in Bahrain during Ramadan
It’s important to note as a visitor when the Holy Month of Ramadan will occur as there are slight modifications in behaviour required. The 9th month in the Hijri calendar is a period of deep religious reflection for Muslims and is strictly observed.
Ramadan in 2020 will start approximately 23 April and end 23 May.
The most important thing to observe is fasting with no eating or drinking in public permitted during the Holy Month. There should also be no public displays of affection and ensure you are dressed modestly – more so than usual.
The other thing you may observe is that many businesses and attractions are closed during the day and only open in the evening.
There is no reason not to visit Bahrain during Ramadan. It can be a great time to enjoy the local culture, join in with a traditional Iftar (the evening breaking of the fast) and overnight festivities that last well into the night, especially on weekends. But do note the change in hours and dress code.
Read more about visiting Bahrain & the Middle East:
- Complete Bahrain with Kids guide
- How should I dress in Bahrain?
- How to do a stopover in Doha
- How to do a stopover in Abu Dhabi