Lebanon Traveler - - HOT TOPIC -

With scores of mu­sic, cultural and ru­ral fes­ti­vals tak­ing place through­out the sum­mer, this sea­son re­quires care­ful di­ary plan­ning. The pro­gram of con­certs with in­ter­na­tional and re­gional stars, also pro­vide an ex­cuse to stay for the week­end and ex­plore the re­gion. Ho­tels and guest­houses fill up quickly over the fes­ti­val pe­riod, so book as early as pos­si­ble. By­b­los In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val (by­blos­fes­ti­val.org) is al­ways on point with its lineup, bring­ing a mix of iconic mu­si­cal leg­ends and pro­lific bands from the more con­tem­po­rary scene. Don’t miss the con­cert of Ara­bic rock band, Mashrou’ Leila (5 Au­gust). The home­com­ing con­cert, mark­ing the end of a sold-out world­wide tour of their most re­cent al­bum “Ibn El Leil,” is sure to of­fer an in­cred­i­ble at­mos­phere. If you can get a room at the seafront By­b­los Sur Mer Ho­tel (09 548000), you’ll likely be rub­bing shoul­ders with the stars at break­fast and the im­pres­sive stage built over the sea is just a short walk away.

Beited­dine Fes­ti­val (beited­dine.org) is set in Beited­dine Palace in the Shouf Moun­tains, pro­vid­ing an at­mo­spheric back­drop to con­certs that in­clude Bri­tish soul and pop singer, Seal (17 July), Romeo and Juliet per­formed by Bal­let Preljo­caj (19-20 July) and Iraqi singer Kad­him Al-sahir (5-6 Au­gust), among oth­ers. A num­ber of charm­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions are nearby, such as guest­house Beit el Qa­mar (05 511722, soukeltayeb.com/bei­tel-qa­mar) or his­toric moun­tain ho­tel Deir el Ou­mara (05 511557/8, deiraloumara.com).

Baal­beck Fes­ti­val (baal­beck.org.lb) con­tin­ues a long cultural heritage with a sum­mer of con­certs in the breath­tak­ing Ro­man ru­ins of the city. Make sure to book for Cara­calla The­ater’s lat­est mu­si­cal “Along the Silk Road” (22-23 July) for im­pres­sive and col­or­ful dance shows. You also wont want to miss pi­o­neer­ing French elec­tronic mu­si­cian Jean Michel Jarre (30 July), in­ter­na­tional mu­sic sen­sa­tion Mika (4 Au­gust) and jazz fu­sion from the Bob James Quar­tet (12 Au­gust). Book at the leg­endary Palmyra Ho­tel (08 370230) for a room with a view over­look­ing the Ro­man tem­ple ru­ins or if you’re on a bud­get, Pen­sion Shouman (08 372685) is a great lit­tle find.

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