Purchases made through links earn us a small commission, at no extra cost to you.
Several of Egypt’s top archaeological sites are illuminated at night, but my favourite evening event during my two weeks in Egypt was the Philae Temple light show. Under the starry sky, visitors get to see the island-based temple complex bathed in light while listening to an interesting narration about the history of Philae from the perspective of gods and goddesses.
Philae Temple Sound and Light Show- My Experience Visiting Philae Temple at Night
An evening at the Philae Temple Sound and Light Show begins with a short boat ride on the reservoir of the Aswan Low Dam to get to the small island where the temple is based.
As I approached the temple complex from the water, I could see its buildings lit from the ground up in warm, golden light. Immediately impressed, I couldn’t wait to wander through the grounds and experience Philae Temple at night.
Stepping off the boat, I was directed to wait with the rest of the visitors standing at the end of the east colonnade. I was glad I got there early so I could stand in the front row and get some good pictures. Across the outer courtyard, I could see the temple’s magnificent first pylon awash in white light as the sky continued to darken.
Once the show started, a narration played over the speakers introducing visitors to the story of Philae Temple. Told as a conversation between characters related to the temple, we learned about the origins of Philae and the fascinating legends of the god Osiris and goddess Isis. As the story played, the colour of light on the pylon sometimes changed and the colonnade was lit up.
When the introduction to the temple was complete, the rope blocking access to the courtyard was removed and the crowd was told to walk to the second pylon in the forecourt. Here we listened to another part of the story while looking at the iconography carved onto the facade. My favourites were the larger-than-life images of Hathor and Horus.
Next, we walked into the Temple of Isis and had a moment to admire the illuminated hypostyle hall and its wall carvings before being ushered out the side door.
After exiting, we walked along the exterior of the Temple of Isis admiring more ancient engravings.
Next up we passed by the small Temple of Hathor. I wanted to linger longer, but the group was being hurried to the seating area for the finale of the Philae Temple Sound and Light Show.
Once everyone was seated on the benches, we listened to the last part of the story of Philae Temple. From here we could marvel at Trajan’s Kiosk, which is just as beautiful at night as it is during the day, and a wide view of the Temple of Isis lit up under the black sky.
At the end of the show, everyone was directed to the boat landing for the return trip to the mainland. I would have loved some time after the show to explore Philae Temple at night, but unfortunately, you have to stick to the approved circuit during the show only.
Oh well, I’m still thankful it was such a warm, calm evening to admire Philae Temple under the stars!
Final Thoughts About the Philae Temple Sound and Light Show
The Philae Temple Sound and Light Show is a unique way to experience one of Egypt’s most beautiful temples.
I loved walking through the complex without big crowds of people and seeing the buildings lit up under a starry sky. There was a sense of grandeur and elegance that I didn’t feel when visiting Philae Temple during the day (although I did really enjoy it then too!)
The narration presented the temple’s history from its founding to modern times in an engaging way. It helped reinforce what I learned during my tour the day before because that was information overload!
Taking about an hour, the Philae Temple Sound and Light Show is perhaps a little long. If you’re expecting flashy lighting effects, like lasers and image projections, then you might be disappointed. This “show” is more about the ambiance created by the lights on the buildings and the accompanying historical narrative.
So is the Philae Temple light show worth it? I thought it was, even though I already visited the temple in the daytime. I liked the Philae light show more than the Karnak Temple Sound and Light Show in Luxor because all the buildings were lit up the entire time and the narration was better quality. I do wish there were more colour-changing lights though.
Overall, the lovely atmosphere, beautiful light, and perfect weather made the Philae Temple light show a fond memory from my first trip to Egypt.
Tips for Attending the Philae Temple Sound and Light Show
Location: Philae Temple is located on Agilkia Island, about 8.5 km from Aswan.
Getting There: The temple can only be reached by boats that are privately operated by locals (there isn’t a public ferry). The boat ride isn’t included in the ticket price, so you’ll have to negotiate a price at the pier just past the ticket office.
Show Schedule & Languages: The Philae Temple light show runs every day of the week and there are typically two shows each night. According to the official website, the show is presented over the speakers in different languages on different nights. I believe there are audio guides and headphones available if you need a different language. You can confirm show times and languages here.
Tours to the Philae Temple Light Show
The most convenient way to visit the Philae light show is by booking a package deal from a tour operator that includes transportation from Aswan, hotel pick up and drop off, the boat ride to the island, and admission tickets to the show. Here is a trusted site where you can book an excursion to the Philae Temple Sound and Light Show.
Accommodations in Aswan
For your convenience, here is a list of hotels in Aswan. Please consider booking your Aswan accommodations through the included link. It costs nothing extra and helps support this website. Thank you!