Lebanon is unquestionably one of the culture hubs of the Middle East. With a rich history that goes back thousands of years, the country and its capital Beirut are a great location for unforgettable cultural events, especially major music festivals and art exhibitions. Our hand-picked guide will help you explore the 10 best events taking place this summer in Lebanon.
Music and Arts | Beiteddine Festival
26 June – 9 August
Beiteddine is ‘one of the leading festivals in the Middle East’, gathering each year more than 50,000 spectators to its concerts, exhibitions, theatre and dance shows. Organised for almost thirty years in the Chouf Mountains, 45km outside Beirut, the festival takes place in the 19th century Beiteddine Palace, an emblematic piece of Oriental architecture. The highlights of the 2014 edition include a concert of Lebanese diva Magida El Roumi, singers Joss Stone and Katie Melua, the dance performance A Titanic Triumph, the Arabic legend Kadim Al Sahir and the photo exhibition Hidden Treasures of the Higher Shouf.
Music | Byblos International Festival
3 July – 5 August
One of the biggest festivals in Lebanon, Byblos is in itself a major tourist attraction of the summer season, gathering thousands of spectators each year. Organised in what is considered to be the first Phoenician city Byblos, in a historical setting few concert venues can offer, this top music festival lines up performers from all music genres, from classical to heavy metal and indie rock. The one month long programme includes ‘the hottest artist of the classical music planet’ Lang Lang, the trip hop British band Massive Attack, the metal band Epica and jazz legends Mulatu Astatke and Ibrahim Maalouf, among many other talented artists.
Film | An Outdoor Cinema Cycle: Troubled Symphonies
26 July, 23 August
The warm Lebanese summer evenings are the perfect setting for enjoying an outdoor cinema night. Planned as a series of four movies, one projected every month from June to September, Troubled Symphonies, now in its second edition, brings to the public films not to be missed. The whole series focuses on music legends, from Alan Parker’s musical film Pink Floyd (June 14), to Alex Cox’ Sid and Nancy based on the real story of Sex Pistols’ bass player Sid Vicious (26 July) and Hannes Stöhr’s Berlin Calling, featuring the story of DJ Martin (23 August). The cycle ends in September with The Doors directed by Oliver Stone.
Art | Art in Office: Artworks from around AUB Campus
The American University of Beirut embraces its role of ‘promoting fine and contemporary art in the region’ and opens to the public an exhibition featuring the highlights of its extensive art collection. In an original manner, the exhibition also presents the creations of the University’s employees as part of its large and eclectic display of artworks from different mediums, styles and times. In an attempt to think outside the box, the organisers included among the exhibits posters, typography and books seen ‘as unavoidable indices of our age of mechanically and digitally reproduced culture’.
Music | Ehdeniyat International Festival
25 July – 3 August
Since 2004 when the first edition of the festival took place, Ehdeniyat has become ‘an experience that never ends’, as the festival’s tagline goes. Its unique location contributes to its success and attractiveness, as this summer music festival takes places in the mountainous, picturesque town of Ehden. This year’s headliners include Spanish singer Julio Iglesias, Ziad Rahbani (one of Lebanon’s most famous composers), Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir and the Tenors of the XXI Century, a group of eight famous tenors that tour the major world stages.