Art lovers will be happy to know that Lebanese festivals are heavily focused on culture. From classical music at the Al Bustan International Festival to displays of dance and poetry in the Tyre and South Festival, Lebanon sure does know how to showcases its talent.
Al Bustan International Festival of Music and the Arts
Kicking off the year’s festivities with a bang is the Al Bustan International Festival of Music and the Arts. Held annually in Beirut in February, this Lebanese event is a musical celebration that takes over the entire month. Spanning five weeks, everything from orchestral concerts, opera performances and ballet shows are on offer for the enjoyment of the public.
May 1 sees the observation of this public holiday which is recognized as Labor Day elsewhere.
Every year in July, the usually sleepy town of Byblos hosts one of the most popular music festivals in Lebanon. Bringing together a diverse range of international and local artists, including the likes of Moby and jazz musician Jamie Cullum, the festival appeals to all genres. Over the course of a few weeks, concerts are held in venues all over the town.
Baalbeck International Festival
Located in the breathtaking Roman Baalbeck ruins, the Baalbeck International Festival is yet another music festival held in July centered around jazz. Both Lebanese and international artists perform for a few weeks in the unrivalled. During evening shows, the ruins are lit up to create a truly magical atmosphere.
Zouk Mikael International Festival
Also in July is another international music festival which takes place at the spectacular amphitheater in the charming town of Zouk Mikael. Everything from classical and opera to blues and jazz can be heard drifting from the stage. While the event is not as heavily publicized as some other musical events in Lebanon, the atmosphere is electric, with most concerts starting at sunset to enjoy music under the stars.
Tyre and South Festival
In a celebration of Southern Lebanese culture, the Tyre and South Festival is held annually in July at and around the ruins of Tyre. Activities include dance shows, poetry readings, musical performances, crafts fairs, and lectures on the region’s culture and history.
Beiteddine Arts Festival
July is a busy month in Lebanon, festival-wise, and one of the most anticipated events in the country is the Beiteddine Arts Festival. Set against a backdrop of the Beiteddine castle, the festival spans three months and is a feast of music, drama and art.
Taking place annually around August and September – the exact date is determined by the lunar calendar – Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan and the end of the Islamic fast. This public holiday is characterized by food, gift exchanges and shopping for new clothes.
Lebanese Independence Day
Observed November 22, Independence Day marks the date in 1943 when the country gained freedom from France after a 23-year period of rule. This nation-wide celebration sees most people enjoy a day off work, military parades, and locals displaying the Lebanese flag outside their homes.