Breakdown of Lebanon’s Summer Festivals

Lebanon’s summers are famously known for their numerous entertaining festivals. Various events held in locations ranging from the rocky mountains to the country’s coast, days and nights filled with performances from national, regional, and international artists, all playing to the tune of different music styles, dances, plays…etc. This festival guide is dense and diverse, and will show you just how animated Lebanon will be this summer!

This year’s dance performances will certainly stand out, and will include features by renown dance companies. On the 17th of August, the dance group Caracalla will be presenting “Finiqia: The Legend Lives On”, a tribute to Byblos’s rich history at the Byblos International Festival. The show will feature innovative choreography produced by Alissar Caracalla, implemented in a contemporary light by Ivan Caracalla. Before that, on the 5th of June, Aakash Odeadra Company will be performing at the Beirut Spring Festival. One of the most sought after dancers in the UK, Odeadra’s international reputation keeps growing due to his beautifully crafted dance works. Then, there’s the Antonio Gades Dance Company that will perform its show, “Blood Wedding and Suite Flamenca”, on the 19th of July at the Beiteddine Art Festival. Gades is a famous dancer and choreographer who helped popularize the flamenco dance on the international stage, making sure to safeguard strong hints of Spanish cultures and traditions in his work.

Shakira announcement.
Shakira announcement.

Moving on to music, we have many international artists coming to Lebanon. On the 28th of June, Double Platinum Selling Artist holder and X Factor 2012 winner James Arthur will be performing at the Jounieh Sumer Festival. We also have English electronic music band Clean Bandit performing on the 29th of June at the Summer Misk Festival. On the 13th of July, Shakira will be performing at the Cedars International Festival as part of her El Dorado World Tour. Known for her unique voice and belly dancing abilities, the Colombian singer is participating in the festival’s goal to honor national figures and symbols. Her last concert in Lebanon dates back to 2011, which she dedicated to her Lebanese father. Not least of all, the American disc jockey duo, The Chainsmokers, will be performing on the 1st of August at the Byblos International Festival.

Adding a more classical note to the summer, the Beirut Spring Festival will be hosting Lotfi Bouchnak on the 4th of June, along with his orchestra. The Tunisian singer is considered one of the best tenors in the MENA region, and was dubbed as “Tunisia’ Pavarotti”. Classical music group Il Divo will also be present this summer on the 16th of June at the Jounieh Summer Festival. The group mixes opera with different music genres, and will present “Timeless”, their romantic show. Last but not least, the Baalbak International Festival will be hosting the Bucharest Radio Chamber Orchestra on the 27th of July. They will perform along with Antonine University and NDU choirs, marking the 150th anniversary of Gioachini Rossini’s death. The show will commemorate the Italian composer’s works and will feature four world class soloists: Joyce EL-Khoury (soprano), Daniel Barcellona (mezzo), Paolo Fanale (tenor) and Krzysztof Baczyk (bass). The whole show will be conducted by Father Toufic Maatouk, and organized in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute and the Italian Embassy in Lebanon.

For those with jazzy tastes, the Batroun International Festival will host Ibrahim Maalouf on the 11th of August. The French-Lebanese singer and composer, strongly inspired by his Arabic culture, will uphold the latter with the help of modern instruments, such as drums and electric guitar, all-the-while performing with musicians who play contemporary rock and jazz funk. Pianist and composer Elie Maalouf and singer Jahida Wehbe will perform at the Baalbak International Festival on the 17th of August, in a show where tarab will meet jazz. The two talented artists will be performing Maalouf’s compositions, featuring Wehbe’s vocals as well as carefully chosen classical Arabic musical pieces. Finally, on the 18th of August, the Baalbak International Festival will host Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals on the festival’s last day, during which the global star will be performing multiple music genres and where his personal emotions and renown political commitments will blend wonderfully together.

Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals announcement.
Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals announcement.

As expected, Arabophone stars will feature heavily this summer. Starting off with the King of Romance himself, Wael Kfoury, at the Jounieh Summer Festival on the 23rd of June. Then, for the opening of the Beiteddine Art Festival from the 12th to the 13th of July, a tribute will be given to Lebanese singer, composer and activist Ziad Rahbani, celebrating 40 years of his music. On the 20th of July, the Baalbak International Festival will feature a performance by Marwa Nagy and Mai Farouk in honor of Egyptian diva Oum Kulthum. The “Star of the Orient” performed many times in Baalbak throughout her career. Nagy and Farouk’s performances will be assisted by the Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental-Arabic, all being orchestrated and conducted by Hisham Gabr. Beiteddine Art Festival will feature another Arabic music performance with the “Caesar of Arabic Songs”, Kadim Al-Sahir. He will be forming for two days in a row, from the 27th to the 28th of July. The Iraqi singer is loved by all in Lebanon, and is the most celebrated and successful Arab singer and composer. On the 28th of July, the Cedars International Festival will host Majida El-Roumi, a Lebanese soprano who is one of the most popular female voices in the Arab world since the 80s. Finally, on the 24th of August, the Byblos International Festival will host Charbel Rouhana. The Murex D’Or winner will pay tribute to Sayed Darwish – father of modern Arabic music – with 25 musicians and chorists.

Kadim Al-Sahir announcement.
Kadim Al-Sahir announcement.

Last in order but not of importance are the selected artists for lovers of Paris and the French language. On the 22nd of June, French singer Julien Clerc will perform at the Jounieh Summer Festival with a romantic and sensual show. Beiteddine Art Festival will be hosting Italian-French singer Carla Bruni on the 30th of July, who will add a “French Touch” to the Palace with her fifth album. On the 4th of August, Matthieu Chedid will perform at the Baalbak International Festival. The Lebanese musician, also known as “M”, is taking the stage with his band to perform their hit songs. M will be preparing a special show that features a few performances with the Chedid family, along with a special appearance by Ibrahim Maalouf. Last but not least, the Byblos International festival will host Nana Mouskouri on the 21st of August, the second biggest selling female artist of all time.

And this was your 2018 festival guide! We hope to see you there!

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