With the start of summer, Lebanon once again is ready to host international and local talents. From one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world to UNESCO heritage sites, here is a list of your favorite festivals in Lebanon.
Baalbeck International Festival
Jul 5 – Aug 3
For over six decades, Baalbeck International Festival has been taking place in the largest and best preserved Roman ruins in the world. It attracts some big international names to a stage in front of the splendid Temple of Bacchus.
Byblos International Festival
Jul 12 – Aug 24
Byblos Festival, the biggest in Lebanon, attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world. It takes place in a beautiful setting by the seaside, in front of the castle built by Crusaders in the 12th century.
Jul 11 – Jul 26
Launched in 2012, Beirut Holidays brings together various musical performances with Local and International artists, taking place in Beirut waterfront.
Beiteddine Art Festival
Jul 18 – Aug 10
Beiteddine Festival, one of the leading festivals in the Middle East has been offering arts and culture for 35 years. It takes place in a large and magnificent 200-year old Palace in the Chouf Mountains.
Jounieh International Festival
Jul 1 – Jul 18
The annual Jounieh International Festival is brought by a young team of local volunteers. Every year, the festival brings joy to the city of Jounieh, with patrons from across the country for several weeks of jolly old-fashioned fun.
Jun 27 – Jul 28
Everyone is invited to live, love, chill, fly, dance, sing, splash, drink, shop and celebrate Bnoss Jounieh. For a whole month, Jounieh’s heart will pump up with a multitude of daily and nightly festivities and shows starting 6 P.M.
Batroun International Festival
Jun 28 – Sep 8
Batroun International Festival is a mix of culture, with music, food, photo and film festivals happening this summer.
Ehdeniyat International Festival
Jul 26 – Jul 28
Ehdeniyat festival, promoting arts and culture is held annually since 2004 in Ehden. It also has a humanitarian side with its proceeds going to NGOs.
Cedars International Festival
Jun 29 – Jul 13
An annual national art and cultural event in Bsharreh, North Lebanon. Bsharri is a distinctive area, and plays host to a number of cultural, religious and natural tourist destinations.
Dbayeh International Festival
Pacha Ibiza is on tour and Dbayeh International Festival is bringing the complete Pacha experience at Waterfront city, Dbayeh with 4 DJs and 4 Dancers.
Kobayat International Festival
Aug 9 – Aug 11
Kobayat International Festivals a musical & cultural event from the heart of Akkar. Its sheds the light on the heritage and nature of Kobayat and Akkar to musical concerts/events.
Lebanon Latin Festival
Sep 4 – Sep 9
Lebanon LATIN Festival 2019 “The Hollywood Edition” will be held in Edde Sands, Byblos, bringing you 80+ Top ranked instructors and DJs, 125+ workshops, 90+ shows, 3 arenas to party till early morning, afternoon social dancing, beach and pool parties.
The Raouché rocks, better known to tourists as the Pigeon Rocks, have seen plenty of aspiring climbers and divers attempt, and succeed, to conquer them. Red Bull Lebanon decided it was time to raise the bar and conquer the Rocks in an even more challenging way.
Young extreme sports professional Alex Mason was set a test by world slacklining expert Andy Lewis: to cross a highline 40m above the sea, between the two rocks, and back.
While Mason has tackled some difficult slacklines before, his biggest challenge in Beirut was keeping his concentration – between the wind, the waves, the passing boats, and loud construction work from the shore, he had his work cut out for him.
It’s going to be more of a psychological challenge for me at this point, the big obstacle for me on this project is going to be getting over my fear of exposure… – Alex Mason
To see if he managed or not, watch the video below!
If you’re interested in seeing more slacklining and extreme sports, check out the Red Bull Middle East website or on Facebook.
Great service, tasty food, and an amazing view. What more could you ask for? Getting there early in the morning, taking a bite out of one of the best Pain au Chocolats available in Lebanon, and being served freshly brewed coffee is a must try. Bar Tartine provides its customers with a mouthwatering menu of excellent food and patisseries. With its refreshing, yet cozy ambiance, and its chill mood, Bar Tartine is our go-to restaurant for enjoying a delectable dish with an even better view.
Located in Ashrafieh, Breakfast Bar is a great place with a great idea. With its tangible healthy menu, it is definitely a must visit for enjoying a variety of delicious healthy food. The most enjoyable part is its overlooking balcony of a small street in Achrafieh and a welcoming sign saying, “We serve health, brunch et un petit café”, you feel welcomed and at home the moment you step inside it. Despite being a bit noisy inside, you will enjoy your breakfast with the tasty food, and the attentive service of its staff.
Breakfast Barn Facebook Page
In the heart of Hamra main street, you will find this lovely café. Café Hamra is your go-to when laziness overcomes you on a Sunday morning. Providing its customers with both indoor and outdoor seatings with homey decor , you’ll have an enjoyable time no matter what your choice of food might be. With a breakfast menu filled with a variety of local Lebanese food and authentic tasty coffee, your taste buds are bound to enjoy every bite.
Café Hamra Facebook Page
Treat your tastebuds to a morning breakfast at Gordon’s Café in Le Gray Hotel. Located in the heart of the Downtown District, Gordon’s Café is ready to serve you with strong blends of tasty, flavourful coffee, and an even tastier breakfast. This restaurant’s selection of freshly baked bread and tasty mini pastries is bound to win over you in a heart beat. Whether you’re looking to enjoy a cup of coffee, or just a large pot of white tea, this is the place to go to gratify your cravings. We love its wide selection of breakfast meals, coffee, and tea.
Gordon’s Café Facebook Page
Serving great home Lebanese food at a reasonable price, Em Nazih is our go-to traditional place, where European thinking meets Middle Eastern cuisine. Surrounded by both locals and foreigners looking to savour their breakfast menu, you’re sure to enjoy a full on Lebanese welcome. From the platters to the atmosphere, this is the place to visit to have the ultimate Lebanese stomach-filling experience. A much-loved café with its simple traditional Lebanese food, and an authentic place with an authentic taste.
Café Em Nazih Facebook Page
Whether you’re a local, or just visiting, you have to give this place a try. Café Younes is somewhat considered the Lebanese Starbucks, with its roastery of freshly grounded coffee at your selection. Furnished with a genuine warm and delightful ambience, as a customer, you will enjoy the stories about the family and Beirut’s history of 75 years. In addition to their breakfast menu brimming with luscious maple syrup-ed up pancakes, bagels, and their signature “Sunny Side-up Eggs”, a coffee is a must-have at Café Younes. Their menu is filled with a variety of some of the richest coffees, with choice of Espresso-based, House Specials, a French Press menu, and more, you will certainly enjoy having a taste of their sophisticated coffee. Coffee isn’t all they have to offer, however; the café also presents a fair selection of loose-leaf teas from Awan Tea.
Café Younes Facebook Page
Haute Couture. A French word tailored for some of our most talented Lebanese designers. In this article, we will introduce to you some of the best hidden Lebanese haute couture designers – Elie Saab and Reem Acra aren’t all that Lebanon has to offer! Some of these designers have probably made it to some of the biggest runways, and the sad part is, you’ve probably never heard of them, or let’s be honest, never heard of some of them.
Rony El Arief
Rony Al Arief’s fashion line emphasises on highlighting each woman’s elegance and unique character. The fascinating structure of each of his dresses elegantly shows off the beauty of womanly curves. From bridal dresses to evening dresses, his shop is full of mesmerising and entirely unique designs.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RonyElAreifcouture/
Joanna T. Azar
Joanna T. Azar opened her colourful Maison de Haute Couture in Jal El-Dib, starting strong with her passion for fashion. Her exceptional gift of combining vivid fabrics together manages to take our breath away, with some of her hypnotising designs and delightfully alluring dresses.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/joannatazar/
Kevork Makassian, a Lebanese Armenian designer, is well known for mixing different kinds of fabrics in his dresses. Combining his talent with a variety of styles, Kevork is well-known for his admiration of the woman’s figure, which is especially apparent in his latest line of chiffon laced dresses.
With Elie’s engineered-to-perfection dresses, he manages to combine structure with style with his fabric effortlessly, giving us some of the most luxurious and extravagant dresses a woman can show off her physique in. With a combination of coloured fabrics and elegant simple designs, getting inside one of his creations would certainly be an experience.
Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/elieawadatelier/
Romantic and feminine are two words to describe Sara Mrad’s designs. Sara Mrad’s dresses are designed with a rare sense of style that will fascinate you with the hidden details in each dress. Beautifully and uniquely made, these blush, pastel coloured gowns are made to make you feel like the royalty you are.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Sara-Mrad-212703238759086/
The son of a well known couturier, Tony Ward was meant to be in the fashion industry. Having his exclusive atelier in Moscow, he managed to captivate a number of celebrities and socialites with his alluring designs. Combining luxury with elegance in his ateliers, Tony Ward is destined to leave his signature in the fashion world.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TonyWardCouture/
With the beginning of the olive tree season, this event will take you to a place filled a mesmerizing and beautiful scenery of Batroun’s Olive Trees.
Date: Sunday 15 October
Time: 10am – 4pm
Location: La Maison du Maquis, Ebrine, Batroûn
From Danniyeh’s renovated “Zahlan Grotto” with its Indiana Jones Bridge, to its breathtaking “Qasr El-Ahlam” in Bakhoun, beauty seekers, this one is for you.
Time: 7am – 8pm
Location: Miniyeh, Danniyeh District
If you’re a Nightmare Before Christmas fan and have a crafty hand for making dolls, then Joon on the Moon has the perfect event for you to attend this October.
Date: Tuesday 17 October
Time: 6pm – 10pm
Location: Joon on the Moon, Achrafieh
This one is for all the beer lovers out there. Oktoberfest is coming to Cantina this October. Bring your friends and stomach and enjoy their tasty beer and barbecued sausages!
Date: Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 October
Time: Starting 7pm
Location: Cantina Sociale, Independence Street, Ashrafieh
The Orionid meteor shower is one of two meteor showers created by debris from Comet Halley. BeirutVersus presents an observation night for all the family to enjoy.
Date: Friday 20 October
Time: Starting 8pm – 11:30pm
Location: Kfardebian, Mont Lebanon
This one is for all the fashion fanatics out there – a fashion show collection of 2017-2018 Haute Couture bridals and evening dresses.
Date: Saturday 28 October
Time: Starting at 7:30pm
Location: Forum de Beyrouth, Charles Relou Avenue, Beirut
Magic Hour; the blissful, precious, and all too brief moment that sees daylight surrendering to night in a swan song of brilliant colors that have inspired poetry, song, scripture, philosophy, religion, and all manner of romantic existentialism since the dawn of time.
While just North of the Lebanese Coast, on the docks of the beach resort Halat Sur Mer, it settles on a gem of a place called The Circle, where, just shy of 7 PM, its customers are treated to a panoramic view of an ocean at dusk and an irresistible feeling of cool and awe harmoniously meshed.
That is the unique charm of The Circle, appropriately named for its circular parameters situated at the tail of the port like a lighthouse or a beacon and supported by a pyramid-like foundation of rocks piling down into the ocean.
The restro-bar reached its heyday this summer, but in fact, it has been around for many years, known only by the summer residents of Halat Sur Mer as a small, albeit unfurnished resting place for boat owners and locals to enjoy a quick afternoon drink before the day’s final stretch.
Enter Wissam Saliba, the enigmatic singer and star, who, along with owner Mike and actor/comedian Charles Hbeiliny, saw the place for the magical jewel that it is and decided to reinvent.
The result? Not long after Wissam and Charles put the word and appeal out did the people begin to amass in consistently rising numbers, coming to seek out the promise of sunsets and music and chilled cocktails.
Since its successful reopening, The Circle has paid host to concerts, birthday bashes, stand-up comedy shows, pool parties, screenings and weekend events and gradually became a stomping ground for celebrities and public figures reclining on spacious comfortable couches, basking in the warm glow of the fading sun, taking in the salty breeze of the ocean, enjoying the finest grilled dishes and wetting their whistles on some of the best cocktails on the coast.
There is a familial sense to the people and the way they interact with each other; not only in cases when they actually know each other but also because of the subtle positive undertones the whole environment entails, an aura of fun camaraderie present in the waiters and bartenders that even strangers can’t resist feeling a bonding kinship amongst each other. So it is in truth when they say The Circle is a labour of love.
The only misfortune or downside one might think of is that, come winter, the place shuts its doors and hibernates amidst the raging waves and stormy winds only to be re-opened and illuminated in due time for the soft breeze and gentle sun to reign supreme once again.
When I think of wine, particularly fine wine, my first thought is of sipping a cold glass of Cote du Rhone on the Champs-Elysees, or an elegant Chianti in Tuscany, mulling its fruity taste and enjoying its robust bitter finish while I gaze at sprawling vineyards and contemplate life’s bigger questions. But therein lies the problem: I am not a wine drinker, nor have I earned the experience and knowledge to deem myself worthy of understanding or analyzing the sophisticated spirit. My immediate thoughts of wine are spawns of preconceived notions conditioned by the mainstream culture of what wine is. What online survey or cultural magazine does not include places such as Central Italy, Paris, Spain, and Argentina on the top of their lists? And rightfully so, these places have earned their legitimacy as the top growers and sellers, and their vineyards and products speak for themselves; however, I cannot deny that I, like many others who sip their wine rather than chug only because etiquette demands it and not because of an educated sense, have fallen victim to the favorable consensus and forgotten the small finesses that other, lesser-known wineries may possess.
The same can be true about wine culture in Lebanon. Local giants such as Ksara, Kefraya, and Musar have transcended anonymity and have become some of the country’s biggest exports to the Gulf and even the West, forsaking the people’s need to dig deeper and explore and instead settling us down with the popular and familiar.
This is not to discredit these brands. Their fame and reputation are more than justified, and we are proud to have them. But like in any competitive business, the underdog must be sought out and acknowledged.
And so, in seeking out these answers, my girlfriend and I decided to take a trip to wine country, both for romantic and educational purposes.
We ventured northeast off the coast, to the small towns of Edde and Smar Jbeil in Batroun District and cruised along the beautiful road that leads up to the churches of Saint Rafka and Saint Hardini. We stopped at all the local wineries, all of which were closed, including the popular IXSIR, which was busy prepping a wedding ceremony. Feeling defeated, we made one last attempt and stopped at Clos du Phoenix, a small winery situated by the main road.
Oblivious to the inconveniencies of others and driven by youthful resilience, we knocked on the door of a house near the winery and were luckily and undeservedly greeted by a friendly old woman who introduced us to her daughter Ayda, the winery’s official guide. Ayda explained to us, the ignorants that we were, that wineries must be contacted beforehand to ensure a guide is available and that we were lucky to have found her on such a short notice. We nodded agreeably, feeling foolish at our unannounced visit and grateful for her patience and hospitality. She directed us to their humble cellar, wrought with the deep and intoxicating fragrance of fermented grapes, and gave us a step-by-step guide of the process from harvest and picking to sorting, crushing and fermentation; the white and rose grapes heaped together while the red given its own distinct process. We mounted up the ladders to the containers and stared down, mindful not to ruin the precious batch with our drool.
For the tasting, we went up a spiral of stairs to a rooftop with a lovely view and were treated to samples concocted from Marsanne, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Grenache among other varietals expertly supervised by Burgundian winemaker Yvan Jobard. Ayda recounted a story of a sommelier who was dining at a Lebanese restaurant and who ordered a glass of Syrah only to be given a glass of Ksara instead. The somm, expert that he is, tasted the difference and made a point of exposing it. Ayda, a promising somm herself, expressed the same disappointment in the mainstream but was hopeful of the expansion of the culture.
Finally, with the sun setting over the water, we were escorted out of the winery, a little tipsier and a little prouder. We thanked Ayda for her generosity as you would a family member, and that’s what the Clos du Phoenix is: a family rather than a corporation.
We left with a bottle of white Emiresse and made a vow to drink it only on occasion. The next day, it was gone.
Check out the Clos Du Phoenix website for more information.
Photo credit: Clos Du Phoenix Facebook page
Everything is better with music, and live music in particular sets the soundtrack for our lives as we drink, socialize and sway, or as we make our way through the thick of the crowd and perch ourselves closest to the stage, unmindful of the excess noise, to just sit and listen and reflect with whatever band or artist is on display. The demand for live shows has become so high that bars and venues across the country have integrated them into their business strategies, and as is the odd charm in our small country, a great number of artists with mad skills have surfaced to meet the people’s needs. Here are some of the best places where you can seek them out.
Not only is Radio Beirut the quintessential host to both local and international performers, but this dimly lit shack has also long been a mecca to which legions of aspiring songwriters and hipsters flock on their pilgrimage of music and social gathering. It is credited for encouraging and promoting musicians through their Tuesday Jam Sessions, which airs live on their podcast, and where artists can play any genre ranging from Hip-Hop to electronic so long as it is their own.
Many local artists got their start at the Hole in the Wall, and some of them have since become residents to subsequently create the Hole in the Wall family; a group of local talents that often jam together and play the most beloved cover songs to a devoted following of fans and friends. True to its name, the Hole draws its charm from its good beer and close quarters, making it the go-to-place for people to huddle together and get their live music fix.
Neighbour to Radio Beirut and often regarded as its main competitor on the strip, Lockstock has its Wednesdays and Sundays reserved for their pick of the litter (most frequently Nour Nimri and Joy Fayad) for a rollicking good time and a lively audience.
Located on Amchitt’s beach front, June has quickly risen up the ranks as one of the most known harbors of live performers. They maintain a diverse selection of artists that changes on a weekly basis and often host Sunset gigs that further complement its breezy and comfortable setting.
The veteran on the scene and grandfather to all live venues, the Quadrangle opens its azure walls to hard-hitting rock and metal bands, helping to keep the rock culture alive amidst the ever-prospering pop and techno era.
From medieval to communist themed bars, these idiosyncratic roadhouses will take you on a ride back to the good old days.
If you’re a snappy dresser, trend setter, dress maker, or anything like that, then Abou Ellie is not the pub you are looking for. It’s not the easiest pub to find, but if you’re looking to enjoy a Lebanese communist-themed bar then we’ve found the place for you. Abou Ellie is one of the old, classic bars of Hamra. Its red walls with the overwhelming number of photographs and signatures give a sense of belonging to its costumers, and a touch of nostalgia for bygone days from the Lebanese past. Filled with the music of Ziad El-Rahbani, Fairouz, Marcel Khalife, and many more, this place is sure to take you back to a more, shall we say, lively period in Lebanese history.
This bar might not exactly give you the royal treatment – if you’re expecting to feel as if you’re having a drink with the royal family or a Victorian vibe, you’ll have to look elsewhere – but one thing is certain here, and that’s the distinctive English feel about this Hamra bar. From the Union Flag on the wall and football games playing live on TV, to the soundtrack of David Bowie, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, and Queen playing in the background, the ambiance will likely have you packing your bags and booking a flight straight to London.
If you’re a fan of silent films and Charlie Chaplin is your guy, then we’ve got the perfect place for you. Chaplin Bar is a cocktail bar located in Mar Mikhael, and despite the fact that this bar’s theme is based on the Silent Film Era, you’re bound to feel as if you’ve been plunged straight into Charlie Chaplin’s “The Jazz Singer” with a variety of jazz, rock, and blues tempos. With its walls dressed up with vintage photographs, and the old fashioned style of the bar, you’ll be one step closer to our silent filmmaker; the one and only Mr Chaplin.
Although named after the notorious infamous cartel lord, the friendly Mexican-themed bar gives off nothing but warm vibes. With heart (and stomach) filling Mexican food, exotic cocktails, and shaking your hips to some fast latin tempo, Pablo Escobar transports you to its own little Latino village in the heart of Dbayeh.
For fans of the TV show, the name needs no introduction. Castle Black is a Game Of Thrones-themed bar based in the boulevard of Zahlé. The inside structure of the bar combines the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros into one place. In addition to serving character-inspired drinks and Game of Thrones boardgames, you can also enjoy the experience of watching the episodes with other fans during season time. By the end of the night, either you will be sitting on your own Iron Throne, or your watch will end.