Nightlife in the “City of Lights” is not as exciting as one might expect. The traditional mode of entertainment for the evening lies in eating, and most restaurants keep very late hours by Western standards. Most hotels have a coffee shop that will serve food, drinks and light music till the wee hours of the morning. Apart from the occasional theatrical performance or film festival, the city eats itself to sleep on weeknights and partygoers find their way to someone’s house on weekends for dancing and drinking.
After hours events on most nights include going to a film at one of the city’s many cinemas, some of which date back to partition and hence boast gigantic screens. There are several lounges which offer music, snacks and soft drinks, such as the Basement off Zamzama Boulevard and the 007 Club at the Beach Luxury Hotel, but they rarely present comfortable seating or accomodating ambience. Hookah smoking, or sheesha, is a favourite pasttime and can be found at many coffee shops as well as exclusively hookah joints such as Damascus Cafe and Cafe Sheesha. Since the consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited by law, there are no bars or clubs, but house parties are common and frequent, where both drugs and alcohol are typically available to invitees.
During festivals such as Eid, the city is fully illuminated at night and shops are open round the clock, but hordes of people swarm the markets, resulting in nightmarish traffic and mob-like scenes. Independence day on 14 August is also a night-long celebration with fireworks, singing and dancing, but these are also accompanied by droves of rowdy young men and in certain neighbourhoods often turns unruly.
The last resort for night owls is the coast, a short distance from the city center, where sandy beaches and starry nights await. Night visits to the beach may also reward a visitor with sightings of the Green and Ridley turtles that come to the beach to lay their eggs during turtle season (October through January).