Festivals & Cultural Events

Most visitors to Palestine do not realize that in addition to the actual sites and shrines to visit, there are many cultural and musical activities taking place on almost any given day of the week. Do check local listing for the latest listings. Besides these regular activities, there are numerous annual festivals that take place throughout the year each providing their own unique experience to locals and visitors alike.

kiff
The International Film Festival began in 2006 and works to promote inter-cultural dialogue and cultural diversity while helping to create adequate conditions for the development of cultural activities through regional and international networking. The KIFF targets areas of Palestine that are physically isolated or economically marginalized, helping Palestinians from all walks of life to learn about more than the political story of their nation. Through hosting workshops, filmmakers, and screenings, as well as bringing in a number of regional and global celebrities, Al-Kasaba is able to put on a unique show year after year.

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artas-lettuce-festival
Since its debut back in 1994, the annual Lettuce Festival which takes place in the beautiful village of Artas just south of Bethlehem near Solomon;s Pools brings locals and visitors together in a joyful festival celebrating and honoring the eternal Palestinian peasant. Organized by the Artas Folklore Center is truly an experience as you get the chance to interact with the living stones of this ancient land and experience the hospitality and culture of Palestinian in real life.

Artas Folklore Center

Announcement of the Nineteenth Annual Artas Lettuce Festival

On Thursday, April 18 from 4-7 pm take part in the 19th Artas Lettuce Festival, which is annually celebrated in Artas, a village located just next to Bethlehem.

“A beautiful village just to the south of Bethlehem, Artas lies at a crossroads of the ecosystems, is steeped in traditions and folklore of successive civilizations and has distinction of being the most documented village in Palestine.”

Artas is famous for its fertile valley where mostly lettuce is planted. Friendly people of the village would like to share with you the joy of the lettuce harvest. They have prepared a cultural program featuring traditional Palestinian songs and dances which will be presented at the amphitheater of the Solomon’s Pools. Everybody is welcomed!

To learn more about Artas visit the http://www.palestine-family.net/ website.

In case of any questions, please contact the Visitor Information Center in Bethlehem at vicbethlehem@gmail.com . Follow also their blog (https://vicbethlehem.wordpress.com/) and Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/VICbethlehem) for updates and events in the area of Bethlehem.

bird-migration-festival
Palestine is slowly becoming more and more popular with bird watchers. Its position at the crossroads between Africa, Asia and Europe make it a pathway for the biyearly migration of over 500 million birds that come spring time travel from Africa through Palestine and into Europe and Asia and then back again to Africa come fall.

The country itself has a remarkable variety of habitats, each with its own compliment of birds. And what’s more, you can bird-watch among some of the world’s famous archaeological and historical sites such as the Jericho region, Wadi Quilt, and the Jerusalem Wilderness. The Palestine Wildlife Society has identified some 13 Important Bird Areas In Palestine. For more information of Palestinian Wildlife please visit the Wildlife Society at www.wildlife-pal.org .

The Bird Watching festival takes place at the Botanical Gardens in Jericho around March. The festival will enable you to explore the migratory route of birds across the Jordan Valley. Besides bird watching other activities at the festival include tree planting and visits to archeological sites within the Jericho area.

birzeit-heritage-week
At the height of summer, the still-sleepy city of Birzeit comes to life in a five-day festival of music, dance, cuisine, film, poetry, and theatre, all within the beautifully restored old city. Home to one of the largest and most prestigious universities in the region, Birzeit is known for its college-town ambience and wonderful hospitality. While it is already a popular destination for local families, international tourists are increasingly moving beyond the traditional tourist sites in the West Bank to enjoy the living culture of Palestine amidst the beautifully terraced hillsides.

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The festival, or Jaru’a, is a traditional end of harvest celebration giving gratitude for another year of abundance.

Farmers, women producers, fair trade distributors, and international visitors gather together to celebrate the fruitof the season.

Come and taste the delicious meal of Musakhan prepared by the local women cooperatives, enjoy the freshly baked Taboun bread with freshly pressed olive oil, and mint tea on bonfires!

You can check more about it through this link :

http://www.canaanfairtrade.com/olive-harvest-festival.php

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christmas-bazar
Held every year in December, the annual Christmas bazaar features booths organized by the expatriate community from all corners of the earth. Every year, Manger square is filled with locals and tourists alike coming to enjoy the spirit of celebrating Christians.
contemporary-dance-festival
For dance lovers of all types, the annual Contemporary Dance Festival simply cannot be missed. Sareyyet Ramallah, a local troupe of scouts that also focuses on increasing Palestinian youth access to culture, puts on a three-week festival that brings together performers from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine. In addition to a large number of performances, this festival also hosts a number of workshops for the community. This combination of spectator ship and participation creates a lively and creative atmosphere for visitors to come and enjoy the best that Palestinian, and indeed world, performance artists have to offer.

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fete-de-la-musique
Do you like music – any and every kind of music? Then you simply cannot miss the annual Fête de la Musique. Organized by Al Kamandjati in cooperation with the French Consulate, this four-day event brings together local and international artists for a celebration of contemporary and classical music. Each day of the performance is held in a different venue throughout the West Bank and is open to the public. The atmosphere and university setting of these events make them a unique treat for audiences – and it only gets better year by year.

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international-puppet-festival
The Palestinian National Theater (PNT) was founded in 1984 by El-Hakawati Theater Company. One year later, the management of the center was handed over to a board of directors composed of artists, writers, and notable persons in the Palestinian community. The PNT supports or participates in a number of the annual cultural festivals listed above, but they are especially famous for their annual International Puppet Festival that is held between 15 and 30 October. This festival brings together local and foreign puppeteers to delight audiences of Palestinian children and adults alike. In a day and age where Palestinian youth are engulfed in new high-tech gadgetry, the not-so-lost art of the puppeteer leaves them as awestruck as the most digitally advanced movies.

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Ayesha is an independent group of young Jerusalemites aspiring to introduce new life to our beloved city of Jerusalem. Our launching event will be the Jerusalem Ka3ek Festival that is open for the general public – children, students and adults alike – to come and enjoy the sounds and flavors of Jerusalem during a one day festival

Booths selling Jerusalem’s sesame bread, local products and handicraft will open at 12pm in the school courtyard, to be followed by musical and artistic performances as well as children’s activities during the day.

jerusalem-music-festival

Jerusalem Music Festival

The Jerusalem Festival 2012:

The Jerusalem Festival takes place every year in the context of the communal and national role of culture in the struggle for survival faced by the city of Jerusalem. Cultural expression enables the Palestinian people to remain strong and maintain their hopes and aspirations for a better future. National identity is nurtured and integrated into history through various forms of human activities: music, theatre, cinema, poetry and the novel, thought, education, architecture, socio-political action, and daily conduct. These many activities combine to portray the story of a people deeply rooted in their land and who tirelessly seek to achieve freedom, independence and progress.

Since its launch in 1996, the Jerusalem Festival has exhibited an artistic-cultural vision in this annual event of various arts that are performed in different geographical locations in the city. The Festival has involved large numbers of people and has adopted the principle of cooperation and participation with arts and community organizations. Moreover, the Festival has given priority to local productions in order to develop local capacities and provide popular artistic platforms. The Festival can be defined as a progressive national arts event.

Building on the rich experience of previous Jerusalem Festivals, in addition to conclusions drawn from the daily cultural activities of Yabous and observations about the deterioration of education, culture and the national status of the city in general, the Jerusalem Festival has adopted a totally different approach in terms of content and programming for this year; this will reflect the quality and development of the Festival’s general performance over past years.

With each year that passes, the burden and responsibility of preserving Jerusalem as a beacon becomes more difficult. Despite the dark clouds of the policies implemented against the city, we embrace the slogan of Jerusalem as a cultural landmark during this year’s festival as it highlights the pivotal role and status of Jerusalem that cannot be undermined.

You are invited to participate with us in the various cultural events and activities on offer: music, dancing, literature, film screening, children’s programs, and improvisations in various locations in Jerusalem.

We welcome your participation in the Jerusalem Festival of 2012.

olive-oil-festival
Every year in October, Manger Square comes to life with the sounds, sights and tastes of traditional Bethlehem. Locals and visitors come together to celebrate the long tradition of olive harvest. From musical performances by local groups to traditional dances by the Artas Folklore Group. Exhibiting booths line Manger Square featuring traditional Palestinian handicrafts, olive oils, olive oil soups and the famous Cremisan wine.
palestine-international-festival
Perhaps the oldest and largest of annual festivals, the PIF was founded in 1993 to organise and host the first international cultural events in Palestine. The festivals have brought music and dance groups from Spain, Greece, Chile, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Iraq, and Turkey. It is truly the most international festival held in the West Bank. It is, of course, also a celebration of Palestinian artists and heritage. In 2005 the festival expanded beyond Ramallah into a number of various villages and refugee camps throughout the West Bank. The age and scope of the event have made it a “must do” for seasoned and new visitors to Palestine.

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palfest
The written word, loved throughout the Middle East, is especially treasured by Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and around the world. The Palestine Festival of Literature brings Palestinian and international artists together for audiences across Palestine, organises cultural festivals with international and local participation, and facilitates workshops with Palestinian students in co-operation with academics. Rather than remaining in one place, the festival is held in several locations throughout Palestine. Last year’s festival wrapped up in the Solidarity Tent of Umm Kamal in Silwan, where an open-mic night for poets and authors was held, as well as a performance by Dam.

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shashat-womens-film-festival
Shashat Women’s Film Festival in Palestine is the only ongoing annual women’s film festival in the Arab world. Shashat, which means “screens” in Arabic, held the first edition of its festival in 2005, and is now launching its seventh edition as part of the project, “I am a Woman from Palestine.”

The festival tours nationally in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in partnership with nine Palestinian universities and several cultural and community centres. It celebrates Palestinian, Arab, and international women’s cinema in its objective to explore the social and cultural implications of women’s representations. The festival consists of screenings, discussions, panels, workshops, and the subtitling of selected films into Arabic.

The seventh edition of the festival focuses on Palestinian women filmmakers and consists of the following components – an intensive three-month training/production workshop in Gaza, which resulted in six films by young Gazan women filmmakers; four productions by established women filmmakers; 85 screenings/discussions in 13 Palestinian cities followed by social consultancies; and 6 specially produced TV programmers.
The seventh festival is funded by the European Union, Heinrich Boll Foundation, Goteborg Film Fund, and the Ford Foundation.

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taybeh-oktoberfest
Taybeh is Waiting for You

The 19th & 20th of September 2015 is Oktoberfest in Palestine.  The Taybeh Oktoberfest  was the strangest idea anyone could ever have for an event in the Middle East.  During very harsh conditions of closure behind a Separation Wall and hundreds of checkpoints all around a little Palestinian village, who can imagine trying to initiate a German style festival in the heart of Palestine?  However, something unique has been happening against all odds in Taybeh since 1994, so a location that has been making a boutique beer (www.taybehbeer.com) advertised as the “The Finest in the Middle East,” can possibly have a new tradition in Palestine.

Taybeh Oktoberfest took place in the village of Taybeh while Daoud Canaan Khoury was mayor (2005-2012). In 2013, the new municipality members did not share the same vision of boosting the economy with an Oktoberfest that had been a great success since it was initiated by a mayor who also happened to be co-founder of the first micro-brewery in the Middle East.   Entrepreneurs think big and think out of the box thus collaboration between private sector and the local municipality appeared as a win-win situation with 50% unemployment in the village.  The theme of the festival to promote local products made in a rural area seemed great.  The festival developed with extensive international media but Taybeh lacked the appropriate infrastructure to host what become to be known as the biggest event in Palestine. But, not all the residents want their village to be famous.

Although Taybeh has a lovely history of five thousand years even before the birth of Christ, as one of the most ancient places in Palestine, it did not have such high number of visitors as other holy sites. The Taybeh Oktoberfest was really a crying out loud, that Palestinians want to live a normal life and celebrate life and have freedom like the rest of the world.  Taybeh Oktoberfest began to be viewed as non-violent action.  It was important to promote rural Palestine because it allowed sharing the deep cultural heritage Taybeh known as Biblical Ephraim offers to others.  I whole heartedly believed that our beautiful hills, valleys and picturesque village are something others would enjoy. Inspiring people to visit the village and be exposed to Palestinian traditions and customs was a mutual exchange in benefits because the local community had a chance to boost its economy.

The Taybeh Oktoberfest allowed two days for all of the local women cooperatives and small businesses to feature their products like olive oil, honey, soap, ceramic lamps, embroidery, etc.  The falafel guy was the first to confess that he made more sales during the Oktoberfest than the whole year.  This was a good inspirational sentence to keep hosting the Oktoberfest each year to the point where it outgrew the village because of the thousands of people that had an interest to attend.  The municipality grounds got so crowded that people driving three hours away to attend a festival could not get in to see the stage.  Every year the autograph book had signatures from places all around the world.

The most amazing part of Taybeh Oktoberfest was the wonderful cultural and musical exchange that was possible with the diverse groups that performed from traditional Palestinian music, dabkeh to rock, rap, and hip-hop.  Different groups were sponsored to perform from places where they would return to Brazil, Germany, Japan, Greece, or Great Britain and share with their family and friends not only that Palestine has an Oktoberfest but that Palestinians have a rich culture of music, art, sports, foods, clothing, traditions, etc.  Oktoberfest brought a deeply needed normality to Palestine.

Since August 2013, people visiting Taybeh can have a tour of the new Taybeh Winery producing boutique Palestinian wines with the Nadim label. The Taybeh Vinfest initiated 2015 is a way to establish a new tradition for a winter wine festival.  In addition to the pension in the village, and the two guest houses, people can now overnight at the new Taybeh Golden Hotel offering eighty tastefully furnished rooms overlooking the beautiful olive orchards and Jordanian mountains.  The old city still makes for an extraordinary walk while stopping to enjoy a nice lunch and the heritage room at Peter’s Place.  Please share  the date for Taybeh Oktoberfest , September 19 & 20, 2015, hopefully for another unique celebration in Taybeh.

Editor’s Note:  Dr. Maria C. Khoury has organized nine Oktoberfest celebrations in Palestine. She is also the author of Christina Goes to the Holy Land.

the-jerusalem-show
The Jerusalem Show (‘Ala Abwab Al Janna) borrows its English title from the vivacious and atypical formats of the Saturday Night Live show and the Muppet Show, whereas its Arabic title ‘Ala Abwab Al Janna (Outside the Gates of Heaven) references the sacramental veneration that is bestowed on Jerusalem. A similar ludicrous dichotomy is ostensible to Jerusalem’s inhabitants (including those at Al-Ma’mal Foundation).

The Jerusalem Show is neither a biennial nor a one-time event. It is neither a large-scale show nor an international grand exhibition. It is an attempt to intercede within the apocalyptic decadal tides of upheaval under which the city kneels, stealing time during the ebb of violence (yet sunk neck-high in hatred and discrimination) to wage an action of covert resistance to the forced hegemony of one creed and one people on the city. In a way, it can be perceived as a political action, and so the organisers try to garner as much support as possible from institutions, organisations, youth centres, clubs, etc., which operate in the city. The Jerusalem Show presents works, performances, and interventions throughout the Old City as unique actions that promote a re-reading of the city in a creatively open, accessible, and interactive manner.

It is the aim of Al-Ma’mal to re-define its work and position in Jerusalem from that of artistic space-fillers to activists. In a context and time such as this, art, culture, activism, manifestations, political protest, social work, etc., are all part of its actions and its understanding of what a show in Jerusalem should entail.

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theatre-of-the-oppressed
The Theatre of the Oppressed is now in its fourth year. The event features performances by local and international groups and is attended by people from around the world. The three-month “season” of theatre dazzles performance art lovers with dozens of extremely varied and unique performances from Ashtar and its international partners. While the Theatre of the Oppressed concept was born on the other side of the ocean and is currently all over the world, the unique experiences and talents of Palestinian artists, combined with the context of the occupation, make the Palestinian version stand out from the rest.

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kiff-1424977153
The Taybeh Vinfest Is A Wine Festival Happening This Weekend On 27- 28 February At The New Taybeh Winery In Palestine. It Aims To Introduce The New Palestinian Boutique Wines To Locals And Internationals With A Fun Filled Evening Of Fine Wine, Music And Food. The Taybeh Winery Is Actually A Dream Come True For Nadim Khoury Who Was The First To Introduce Micro-Brewing To The Middle East As The Co-Founder Of Taybeh Beer, The Palestinian Natural Beer Brewed Since 1994. Nadim Believes A Vinfest Is A Great Way To Encourage People To Drink High Quality Local Wines By Offering Them The “Nadim” Brand Of Merlot, Cabernet And Syrrah. “Nadim” In Arabic Means “My Drinking Companion.” Also, The Famous Egyptian Singer Emkoulthoum Sings About Nadim In Her Song “Al-Atlal.”

The family-owned Taybeh Winery had an official opening in November 2014 where Nadim’s son, Canaan, the new Palestinian winemaker had an opportunity to introduce the red wines to the community. The winery guests included locals, business people as well as the diplomatic community. Canaan is a graduate of Harvard University and returned home to Taybeh to create Palestinian wines with a distinctive characteristic in entering the local and international market. Local grapes from Taybeh and surrounding towns of Aboud and Birzeit were crushed for the first time in the new state of the art Italian equipment in August 2013. Canaan is also experimenting with local Palestinian white grapes crushed August 2014 and will bottle a very delicious Sauvignon Blanc this Spring. The Vinfest is a unique opportunity to launch the new white wine and taste it straight from the tank.

Happening for the first time in the village, the Taybeh Vinfest will promote local musicians including Nazal Zanyed with the Mina Band on Friday night. Mina Band was established in 2009 by Emile Hani and Nazal Zanyed with several Palestinian musicians when they were students in music school in Birzeit. Mina Band stands for the Mideast and North Africa traditional music the band plays in oriental style. They also play Spanish music and rearranged to create modern fusion music.

Jazz music will be featured on Saturday night with Joseph Dugmaq, who is a Saxophone teacher at Edward Said National Music Conservatory and Mohammed Qutati. The new tradition to be created with Taybeh Vinfest as an annual wine festival in cold weather is based along the thinking of promoting a boutique Palestinian wine with wonderful local music and distinguished art. The spectacular art works of Nabil Anani and Tayseer Barakat continue to be exhibited at the beautiful lobby of the new Taybeh Golden Hotel www.taybehgoldenhotel.com. Both are prominent Palestinian artists and instrumental in the founding of the International Academy of Art Palestine teaching talents students contemporary visual arts in Ramallah. Taybeh hopes the combination of excellent wines, music and art will create a pleasant environment to be enjoyed by all. However, come to Taybeh for a tour even if it’s not VINVEST! Cheers!

youth-drama-and-animation-festival
Unknown to most in the West Bank, but known to most people in Gaza, Theater Day Productions (TDP) hosts an annual Youth Drama and Animation Festival. TDP fills a small area with art and expression created by young people and drama teachers. This year TDP will go to Rafah and parts of Khan Yunis where 15 groups of children will prepare for 6 weeks of drama workshops and video animation. On 26 and 27 October, they will gather in the one venue where their mini-performances and films will be shown to family, friends, teachers, and the community at large. Coffee, sweets, and a public debate about the benefits of theater and arts for children end the two-day festival.

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