A traditional Palestinian dance at a festival in Jerusalem. Credit: Facebook

Palestine, like all the countries in the world, has its fair share of festivals. It enjoys the diversity of arts such as music, cinema, theatre, visual arts, literature, and heritage. Despite being occupied, through cultural activities and occasions, it tries to spread joy and strengthen steadfastness among its people and tourists for preserving identity; and most importantly because it is a country of love and peace.

The traditional festivals are considered a vital element for preserving the cultural and artistic heritage of the Palestinians. They also constitute an opportunity to open up to the cultures and civilizations of other people, including international festivals and local festivals.

International festivals

Palestine International Festival

This festival focuses on music and art and contributes to encouraging and inspiring the creative production of Palestinian artists and creators, especially local art groups.

The festival hosts several world dance and music groups from different countries such as Spain, Italy, Greece, Chile, Egypt, Jordan, France, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Britain, and Turkey. It also hosts local dance, music, and singing groups, contributing to its development.

A local art group performing at Palestine International Festival in 1993

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Contemporary Dance Festival

It is an artistic festival specialised in the field of contemporary dance held in Ramallah. This festival is organized annually in partnership with Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.

Contemporary Dance Festival aims to enhance the language and cultural exchange between the Palestinians and others around the globe, introduce the Palestinian public to various forms of contemporary dance, and develop the capabilities of workers in the field of dance. The festival targets the Palestinians, especially the youth sector.

Contemporary Dance Festival in Ramallah in 2006.

Jerusalem Festival

A festival specialised in music and singing, it is organised by the Jerusalem Foundation Yabous in Jerusalem. However its activities vary between music, Palestinian films, and children’s programmes.

First launched in 1996, the festival has hosted major Arab and foreign artists and orchestras in various fields of music, and is often held in July.

A large gathering at Jerusalem Festival

Music Festival

The Festival of Music is organised by the Al Kamandjati Musical Association every year in June. The festival hosts musicians from abroad, and from all over the West Bank. Additionally, students and hobbyists are encouraged to perform their talent with professionals. The musical performances include many different schools and many kinds of music; from opera to jazz, hip-hop, world music, and Palestinian folklore.

A glimpse of the Music Festival in West Bank city, Palestine.

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Local festivals

Safa Cultural Festival

This festival is organized by the Handala Cultural Center in the village of Safa, in Ramallah city. Every year, its activities are held in July in the yards of its schools. Many artistic groups participate in the festival, and it is being characterised by the people of the country embracing the idea, and providing possible support for its success.

Handala Band – a dance group performing at a festival

Lettuce Festival “Artas”

It is organised annually by the Artas Center for Folk Art in the village of Artas in Palestine. The festival coincides with the lettuce season in the village. The festival is an opportunity to market the lettuce products and present artistic performances to the people of the region.

Celebrating the lettuce season in Artas village

Fig Festival

An agricultural, economic, cultural, and folk festival, it is held in the town of Tal in Nablus city. In this celebration, farmers display figs with poetic and artistic paragraphs and performances, performed by the popular Dabka groups.

Fig Festivals in the town of Tal in Nablus city. Also a sight of Palestinian traditional dance Dabka.

The Grape Festival

It aims to show the heritage and economic importance of this Palestinian crop. In this festival, Palestinian farmers display their products with all types of Khalili grapes.

Besides, they hold many popular and artistic events and evenings, cultural competitions, along with giveaways and prizes for visitors and participants in the festival.

Grape festival in the city of Al-Khalil in Palestine.

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Olive Festival

Organised by the Salfit Governorate annually, it is celebrated in all Palestinian cities. Palestinian farmers come over from different cities to display their olives products. Art, poetry, popular Palestinian traditional dance “Dabka”, and folkloric performances are also showcased to add joy to the festive mood.

Olive Festival in Palestine

These are some of the most popular festivals held in Palestine, many of them are agricultural and music based. Palestinians can’t export their products outside the country as it is occupied by Israel. They even prevent any Gazain farmer from traveling to the West Bank. The Palestinian farmers live a simple life; seeking support to feed their family. They hope for a peaceful country, free from all wars and conflicts.

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