Bethlehem Cultural Festival Announcement

From Thursday 2 to Sunday 5 December, the Bethlehem Cultural Festival shines the spotlight on the arts, culture and heritage of Palestine and the Mediterranean with live events in London and Glasgow as well as an online program for a global audience.

The Bethlehem Cultural Festival puts the region’s rich historical culture and artistic production center stage, through discussion, food, heritage, dance, film, theater and music. It shows a thriving region of positive energy and creativity, carrying on the long legacy of several generations. Now in its second year, the Festival brings together famous artists, renowned expert speakers and cultural leaders for four days of joyous celebration.

The festival opens with two days of London Live on December 2-3 at Grand Junction, west London. A busy schedule includes celebrity Palestinian chef Fadi Kattan discussing Palestinian food and heritage with culinary writer Xanthe Clay and Sam clark from Moro; the writer Christiane Dabdoub Nasser on the incessant construction of borders; a new commission from flautist Nay Fais Ishaq; a conference on the wines of Palestine and Lebanon; the interwoven narratives of identity, displacement and resistance of the Hawwiya Dance Company; the play by Ahmed Najar and Ashraf Afifi A Person Can Only Be Born in One Place; and the Galileo Quartet.Then, on December 4 and 5, the Festival moved to Glasgow, a city with long-standing ties to Palestine and twinned with Bethlehem. The festival venues here are Glasgow Cathedral, the Center for Contemporary Arts and Glasgow City Chambers. The program includes coordinated lighting of trees in Manger Square, Bethlehem and Glasgow Cathedral; a skate film in Palestine; a discussion of the women who run the Bethlehem Marathon; the Palestinian alternative rock group Mafar; screenings and discussions by filmmakers in Glasgow and Palestine and how filmmaking can bring hope; the writer Christiane Daddoub Nasser on political ruptures; and flute player Nay Faris Ishaq travel from London to Glasgow to close the festival. The co-founders and directors of the Festival are Melissa Scott (UK), Abdelfattah Abusrour (Palestine), Jonathan Brown (UK) and Michele Cantoni (Palestine). look to Christmas, the Bethlehem Cultural Festival team brings a wide range of cultural events from Palestine and the Mediterranean to an international audience. We provide a platform for artists around the world to connect and work together to find common ground through their work and through panel discussions to address key issues that cultural practitioners face in their work. to remind the world of the positive cultural work that is done every day in the field. “

For more information on the Bethlehem Cultural Festival, please visit the website at

London Live

Thursday 2 and Friday 3 December
Grand Junction, St Mary Magdalene Church, Rowington Close, Paddington, London W2 5TF
Tickets £ 22.50 (students £ 17.50) for each day or £ 40 for both days

Thursday 2 December

5 p.m. Olive oil – its heritage and health benefits
Dr Simon Poole will present the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet while Heather Masoud (Zaytoun) and Karim Fitouri will describe olive oil production in Tunisia and Palestine. With a tasting session.
7 p.m. Palestinian and Eastern Mediterranean cuisine, beyond hummus
Fadi Kattan discusses Palestinian food and heritage with Daily Telegraph food writer Xanthe Clay and Sam clark from Moro.

8 p.m. Shrinking Space and the construction of borders
Christiane Dabdoub Nasser in conversation with Leila Sansour and Jacob Norris about her book A moon will rise. Topics will range from families in Bethlehem in Palestine and across the world to relentless border building across Palestine / Syria / Lebanon and Brexit.DISCUSSION
9 p.m. Palestinian fiction writing
How do the authors write in English about Palestine? How can they reach a global audience? Writers Ahmed Masoud, Selma Dabbagh, Nayrouz Qarmout and Naema Aldaqsha discuss their work from London and Gaza.
10 p.m. Faris Ishaq – The end of the night
Nay Faris Ishaq’s flautist performs a new work commissioned by the Bethlehem Cultural Festival, based on the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish

Friday 3 December

5 p.m. Wine talk – The resilience of Palestinian wine in Lebanon
Michael Karam and Madeleine Waters in conversation with Faouzi Issa from Lebanon and Sari Khoury from Palestine.

6:10 p.m.
A discussion between Iraqi writer Haifa Zangana and a journalist Victoria brittain on Palestinian women who have written about their experiences as ex-prisoners. They also discuss the Palestine Book Awards and how they provide an important platform for Palestinian voices. DISCUSSION
6:50 p.m. The arts and their role in the community
What is the “Belle Resistance” and what role can cultural activity play within the community? Abdelfattah Abusrour, Brigid Keenan and Charlotte Eagar discuss their work in refugee camps in Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon.DANCE
7:50 p.m. Hawwiya Dabke Dance
Hawiyya Dance Company was founded in 2017 as a culturally diverse female collective that explores identity, culture and resistance through dance. This ten-minute show combines contemporary dance with the lines and circles of traditional Levantine Dabke folk dance to create interwoven narratives of identity, displacement and resistance.
8 p.m. A person of Ahmed Najar and Ashraf Afifi can only be born in the same place
Palestinian playwrights and directors Ahmed Najar from London and Ashraf Afifi from Gaza bring their 50-minute play A Person Can Be Born In One Place On The London Stage. It shows the tension, tragedy and irony of a Palestinian who wants peace and quiet in death but, disturbed by the sound of rockets and attacks, remembers that he must ensure the safety of his daughter as a Jewish settler from the United States is trying to bring him home. In partnership with the British Council
It will be followed by a short film on the life of artists in Gaza and then by a discussion between Ahmed Najar, Ashraf Afifi and Aimee Shalan on the impact of the occupation on Palestinian artists in Gaza and in the Diaspora.MUSIC
9 p.m. Galileo Quartet
The Galilee Quartet is a classical string quartet composed of three brothers and a sister from the Sa’ad family.Glasgow Live
Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 December

Saturday 4 December

Contemporary Art Center, 350 Sauchiehall St, Glasgow G2 3JD
Tickets £ 20 (students £ 15)
Glasgow Cathedral, Castle St, Glasgow G4 0QZ (free events, no reservation required)

5 p.m. Chants at Glasgow Cathedral – with chants from Glasgow, Jerusalem and Bethlehem
Carol’s service with the Lord Provost and the Reverend Mark Johnstone. With readings and songs by Amwaj Choir and Talitha Kumi School Choir, including an Armenian song related to Christmas by Amwaj with lead singer Levon Kaladjian.
Free event
5:45 p.m. Tree lighting in Manger Square, Bethlehem and Glasgow Cathedral
Coordinated tree lighting at 5:45 p.m. UK time between Glasgow Cathedral and Manger Square, Bethlehem, followed by a candlelight procession outside.
6.30 p.m. Festival specific to the Bethlehem site
Ben harrison and Alice butler of the Grid Iron Theater discusses their collaborative project with the Al Harah Theater in Bethlehem, the site-specific festival of Bethlehem. In partnership with the British CouncilFILM + DISCUSSION
7:30 p.m. Urban Sport in Palestine
Charlie davis, founder of Skatepal, shows a film and talks about his work in Palestine with skateboarding.
8:30 p.m. Run freely
Cairsti Russell, Diala Isid and David Greig in a conversation about Russell’s upcoming documentary, Freedom to Run, and the Bethlehem Marathon.
9:30 p.m. Mafar – The end of the night
Performance by the Palestinian alternative rock group Mafar of a seven-minute piece commissioned by the Bethlehem Cultural Festival, based on the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish.

Sunday 5 December

Glasgow City Chambers, 82 George Square, Glasgow G2 9WH
Tickets £ 20 (students £ 15)

4 p.m. A love letter to Palestine
The short film screenings are followed by a discussion between David Hayman and Baha AbuShanab on the film’s impact on Scottish and Palestinian identity.
5 p.m. Shooters and young filmmakers from Glasgow and Palestine discuss
Independent film company Shooters’ David Hayman Jr., Moe Abutoq and Neil Leiper discuss filmmaking with young Palestinian filmmakers Wisam Jafari and Ibrahim Handal.DISCUSSION
6.30 p.m. Breaks vs Continuity
Christiane Dabdoub Nasser and Bridget Foreman discuss the significance of political ruptures, such as the one caused by the British Mandate. How are people affected by these ruptures, and how do they experience them? Palestinians are known for their resilience, but is it enough to ensure continuity? Breakups can also herald change: was that the case in Christiane’s novel A Moon Will Rise? Is this the case today? DISCUSSION
7:30 p.m. Cultural activity and its role in national identity
Bethlehem Cultural Festival co-director Dr Abdelfattah Abusrour, Neil Leiper, Chunk and Tam Burn Dean discuss the positive role that cinema, theater and the arts can play in giving people hope, through their work with young people and prisoners.
8:30 p.m. Faris Ishaq
Faris Ishaq closes the Festival by playing an original composition on the nay, a recorder from the MENA region.

Darcy J. Skinner