Horsh Beirut celebrates culture for all
Free cultural festival opens public park to all, with something to do for everyone
BEIRUT: Horsh Beirut Festival is set to hold its 8th edition this summer, staging a free cultural festival at the sculpted “pine forest” that is once again a semi-public park.
Also known as Festival du Bois des Pins, the annual event will this year offer a lineup of music, theater and dance performances, alongside workshops and mouneh products (preserved seasonal foods) by Souk el Tayeb, from June 23-24.
Founded in 2011 by ASSABIL, an NGO promoting free and unlimited access to information, the event is this year partnering with the Heinrich Boell Foundation – the German Green Party foundation promoting sustainability, democracy and human rights.
“The festival will feature a variety of musicians and performance artists,” the foundation’s program and finance manager Corinne Deek told The Daily Star. “It will also feature several groups that are actively involved in environmental and societal matters and offer a large range of activities for the youth.
“The program is designed in a way to target women, men, youths, kids from all backgrounds, classes, regions,” she added.
“The festival is free and therefore also accessible for people who could otherwise not go to such events, setting it apart from other festivals which are often expensive.”
The festival’s location at Horsh Beirut is a significant statement, according to Deek, as one of its goals is to have open public spaces for all.
“Horsh Beirut is the largest and most important green space in Beirut,” Deek explained.
“It was closed to the public until recently and the Beirut municipality still makes it difficult to access through restricted opening hours and a lack of care and maintenance.
“It gives the people an opportunity to access the park and aims to attract people from different background,” she added, “demonstrating to Beirut municipality that having visitors inside parks and preserving the environment are not mutually exclusive.”
Highlights of this year’s program include oriental concerts from Lebanese singer-songwriter Sami Hawat and Al Rahala and vocalist Nisrine Hmaidan, a performance of Hanane Hajj Ali’s award-winning theater piece “Jogging,” and a storytelling event themed on love and freedom by Jihad Darwiche.
There will also be “children’s workshops and shows by Clown Me In and Cirquenciel,” Deek elaborated, “a puppet show by Les Amis des Marionnettes, and a bagpipers’ concert by Beit Atfal Assumoud/National Palestinian Scouts.”
A theater performance titled “Ayyoube” and directed by Awad Awad is also set to take place, telling a biographical story of a Palestinian woman in a Lebanese refugee camp.
Walkabout Drum Circle will also be offering a workshop and demonstration of percussion from West African songs and rhythms.
“Several organizations and groups will be running activities in their stands that will be placed in the center of the park such as the quiz on coastal areas and marine life in Lebanon titled ‘How well do you really know,’ by The Civil Campaign to Protect the Dalieh of Raouche, a drawing and collage workshop on public spaces for children by Little Agenda and guided tours of Horsh Beirut by NAHNOO.”
This year marks the 8th edition of the cultural festival.