First Published: 2013-06-21

 

Lebanon's Baalbek festival moved to another venue

 

Spillover of Syria war prompts renowned Baalbek International Festival’s to move from town’s Roman ruins to another location.

 

Middle East Online

Culture affected by Syria war

BEIRUT - Lebanon's renowned Baalbek International Festival, normally held in the town's spectacular Roman ruins, is to move to an alternative venue in the face of a spillover of violence from neighbouring Syria, organisers said on Friday.

American soprano Renee Fleming, the festival's headline act, has also cancelled her participation in the festival, one of the Arab world's leading cultural events and a point of pride for Lebanon.

"As as result of the security situation, we cannot organise the festival in the temple this year," the festival's press office said.

"We are holding meetings with authorities to find another location, aware that it is very difficult to find a similarly wonderful setting."

The decision to change venue will also force a delay, and the festival is now scheduled to begin on August 9, instead of June 30.

The disruption to the festival comes as Lebanon finds itself increasingly affected by the war raging in its larger neighbour Syria.

Rockets fired from inside Syria have hit border areas near the Baalbek ruins, which lie in a stronghold of the Shiite Hezbollah movement.

Hezbollah is a key ally of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has dispatched fighters to battle alongside the Syrian army against rebels seeking to overthrow him.

Hezbollah's intervention has raised tensions in Lebanon, where many Sunnis back the Sunni-led uprising against Assad, whose Alawite faith is an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

The Baalbek festival was cancelled during Hezbollah's devastating war with Israel in 2006, but this is thought to be the first year that it has switched venue.

The Baalbek ruins, which include the striking Temple of Jupiter and well-preserved Temple of Bacchus, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

"We are really disappointed," the festival's press office said, adding that some acts had been designed specifically for performance in the ruins.

"Renee Fleming cancelled even before the situation got worse," the press office said, adding that other performers had, however, confirmed their attendance.

Among the acts booked for this year are British singer Marianne Faithfull and Brazilian pianist and singer Eliane Elias.

Launched in 1956 during what is often thought of as Lebanon's Golden Age, the Baalbek festival was halted at the start of the 1975-1990 civil war and did not resume until 1997.

It has hosted figures including dancer Rudolph Nureyev, British singer Sting and American jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald.

Lebanon's other main summer festivals, including the Beiteddine festival in the Chouf mountains and the Byblos festival on the Mediterranean coast, are expected to go ahead as planned.

 

Yemen government returns to Aden with eyes set on Sanaa

Arbil urges PKK to move out of Iraq Kurdistan

Syria army pushes back rebels near Latakia province

ISIS flexes muscles in eastern Libya

Iraq protesters vent anger over poor services

Egypt court postpones verdict on brother of Ayman al-Zawahiri

Immigration surpasses economy as major concern in Europe

Plane crash kills family members of Bin Laden

Erdogan calls for early elections if no coalition

Palestinian baby killed in arson attack by Jewish settlers

Kurds in Diyarbakir fear return to war

State of emergency in Tunisia extended

Jerusalem Gay Pride attack suspect lashes out in court

'Kurdish Obama' faces his biggest test

Yemen blockade 'killing' as many civilians as war

EU urges Israel to show 'zero tolerance for settler violence'

Cash-strapped Tunisia's Syphax airline grounds flights

Pentagon denies US-trained rebels captured in Syria

Morocco king calls for development of remote regions

Host of US celebrities endorses Iran nuclear deal

PKK braces for fight with Turkey in Iraq mountain bastions

Kurdish party chief dismisses Turkey anti-IS raids

Thomas Cook warns Tunisia attacks affect annual results

Three Al-Jazeera journalists await Egypt retrial verdict

Kuwait uncovers new IS cell

One Turkish police killed in attack blamed on PKK

Israel approves law allowing force feeding of prisoners

New sexist gaffe of Turkish deputy PM: 'As a woman, be quiet!

UN envoy invites Syrians to ‘thematic’ talks

Egypt's gift to the world: Suez Canal Axis

Pentagon to worried lawmakers: We will remain vigilant on Iran

Hamas calls for revolt against Palestinian Authority

ISIS claims deadly car bomb in Yemen capital

Allies tolerate Turkey's double game to boost IS fight

Somalia ‘making progress’ despite insecurity and election delay

Germany, Iraqi Kurds say Turkey should resume peace process

Syria skeptical about Turkey's intentions in fight against ISIS

Somalia indentifies hotel bomber as former German resident

US gets formal approval to use Incirlik air base in Turkey

Saudi policeman killed, 2 injured in attack

Israel PM approves 300 settler homes in occupied West Bank

Jordan jails 8 for "plotting a terrorist act"

Israel committed war crimes on 'Black Friday'

Israeli strike on Syrian town kills 5 pro-regime fighters

Yemen orders militia to merge with army