Lebanon hasn’t always had it easy; the country has seen its share of war and conflict. However, throughout all the turmoil, Lebanon has given birth to some of the best musicians this region has ever seen. It has given us the ever wonderful Fayrouz whose music has inspired her people and gave them—and others—hope that the peace and joy they once knew would return again. Lebanon has also given us Fayrouz’s son, Ziad Rahbani, with his unique compositions and satirical lyrics. It was home to musicians who would be known in any Arab household, from Sabah to Nancy Ajram. Lebanon has always held music in high regard and understood the importance of music even in the toughest of times. For that, and out of their love for all forms of music, Lebanon celebrates music through a host of festivals held throughout the year that are ideal for those looking to explore the country's unique music culture through a very authentic lens.
BAALBECK INTERNATIONAL FESTIVALvia annahar
One of the oldest festivals in the region, starting in 1956, Baalbeck International Festival brings jazz, rock, opera, and ballet into one venue for a unique event. So, whether it’s heavy music you enjoy or relaxing tunes, Baalbeck festival has got you covered either way. The festival takes place amid the beautiful ruins of the temples of Bacchus and Jupiter in the city of Baalbeck. The festival attracts artists from all over the world and, for a series of summer nights spanning July and August, the audience enjoys the different art forms presented, including music, theater, and dancing. Throughout its history, this festival has hosted world-class artists like Miles Davis, Deep Purple, Placido Domingo, and Fayrouz, amongst others.
Beiteddine Festivalvia AGBU Lebanon
Starting in the mid-eighties, Beiteddine Festival was an attempt to restore normality amidst the chaos and destruction of war in Lebanon. Since then, it has become an annual festival to celebrate creativity and arts in Lebanon and has grown to become one of the biggest festivals in the region. It takes place in the 200-year old Beiteddine Palace in the town of Beiteddine; the palace view and design alone are worth making a trip down there. The festival takes place each year in the months of July and August and presents outstanding performances by local and international artists. Performances include different genres of music like jazz, opera, and classical music. The festival has hosted several renowned artists over the years like Sir Elton John, Mariah Carey, and Ricky Martin.
Byblos International Festivalvia Glamroz
Byblos International Festival is the biggest festival in Lebanon and is held in the ancient city of Byblos, which is turned into a massive venue for the festival. This annual event takes place mostly in July or August, and hosts a variety of musicians from all over the world, with genres like rock, pop, metal, and classical music. The Byblos Festival attracts tourists from around the world, so it's worth factoring into your itinerary.
Ehmej Festivalvia Ehmej Festival
Ehmej Festival has been held annually since 2011 in the city of Ehmej, north of Beirut. The festival aims to promote tourism and the Lebanese culture, and spreading music and art from Lebanon to the world. The festival hosts local and regional talents every August, hosting well-known performers like Saber Rebai, Wael Kfoury, and Ramy Ayach. If those names ring a bell, Ehmej Festival is where you want to be when in Lebanon.
Beirut & Beyond International Music Festival started in 2013 to showcase and promote the region’s independent music scene with an emphasis on artistic merit, and it quickly became one of the key festivals in the region. Beirut & Beyond welcomes a different regional artist every year as guest curator of the festival, with the 2017 festival having been curated by Egypt’s Maurice Louca. The festival takes place in December in Beirut with a host of regional artists.
Wickerpark Music Festivalvia Arnaud Cécile HSilenus
Taking place in the gorgeous coastal town of Batroun, this is an alternative music festival that combines today’s rising Lebanese talents with more established and experienced bands, as well as foreign guest artists. What makes this festival special is that it is eco-conscious and the founders claim it’s a zero-waste event, out of their sense of duty towards the environment and the community. The festival takes place in September in a massive field next to the founders’ house.
Cedars International Festivalvia In her shoes
The Cedars International Festival used to take place in the 70s but was interrupted because of the war. It aims to promote tourism in Lebanon and reflect the rich history and artistic value of the Cedars of God forest and Lebanon as well. The event used to take place in that forest in Bsharri District, but since it was added by the UNESCO to the list of world heritage sites, the event was relocated to a near venue where attendees could see with their eyes the mystical forest. The event has hosted several renowned artists in the past like Wadih El Safi, Fairouz, and Sabah. This year in July it will be hosting Shakira and Magda El-Roumi.
Ghalboun International Festivalvia Ghalboun International Festival
This festival started in 2010 and takes place in Ghalboun Village. The event is held this year in July and it will host over 80 artists from around the world, performing a variety of music genres.
Zouk Mikael International Festivalvia Eventsleb
Taking place in the charming town of Zouk Mikael, 10 minutes from Beirut, this annual festival hosts a variety of regional and international artists to perform in a Roman-style amphitheater. The event aims to bridge the gap between generations in a way that supports continuity in the performing arts. The July 2018 edition featured renowned artists such as Souad Massi.
Jounieh Summer Festivalvia Beirut Nightlife
Jounieh Summer Festival is one of Lebanon’s leading music and entertainment festival. The festival is usually held in June and has a reputation of attracting national and international talent of the highest caliber. The festival is held in Jounieh city and features an impressive variety of music genres.
Bkassine Festivalvia Beirut.com
One of the biggest festivals in South Lebanon, Bkassine Festival takes place in front of a breathtaking 100-year-old church in Bkassine forest. The festival hosts several regional artists and will be happening this year on the last few days of August and the first few of September.
Summer Misk Festivalvia prwebme
Starting in 2014, this festival presents not only musicians, but also stand-up comedians and other artists. This year's festival took place in June at Beitmisk, in Aatchane and hosted the renowned Abu alongside other musicians.
Tyre International Festivalvia bisara7a
The Tyre International Festival takes place in the ancient Phoenician city of Tyre. It launched in 1996 and has been known to select the best international and local acts to perform, like Guy Manoukian. The event takes place in the Tyre Hippodrome, a UNESCO world heritage site, in July and August. The festival strives to cast light on rural activities and forgotten crafts in addition to participating actively in supporting the hospitality aspect of this ancient and UNESCO classified heritage city.
Beirut Holidays via Star system
Beirut Holidays is a series of concerts and shows in the heart of Beirut Souks. Launched in 2012, the festival brings together local, regional, and international musicians and artists, like Chris De Burgh and Elissa. The event takes place in August over the course of several days.
Batroun International Festivalvia Music Nation
In 2009, the Batroun International Festival was born and started hosting leading local and international artist from all over the world. It takes place in the coastal city of Batroun, which is known for its historic churches and sites and is one of the oldest cities in the world. The festival takes place annually in July or August.
Looking for more musical experiences in Lebanon? Check out some of Beirut's coolest live music venues.