Lebanon celebrates the return of its famed music festival

The return of Baalbeck International Festival (BIF) provides optimism for Lebanon.

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The return of Baalbeck International Festival (BIF) provides optimism for Lebanon.

Recognised as the oldest and the most prestigious festival in the Middle East, the BIF makes its return on the events scene after a two year absence.

The festival, which takes place annually between July and August in the Roman ruins of the Baalbek Temples, first started in the mid 1950s.

During the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1996), the event was forced to be postponed, but reopened to retain its glory as Lebanon's cultural highlight.

The event suffered another blow in 2006, when it was cancelled as war erupted between Israel and Hezbollah.



Continuing conflict in the north prevented the festival's return last summer and the volatile situation earlier this year, which saw Lebanon on the brink of civil war, fuelled speculation that the event may be jeopardised yet again.

But, the rivaling factions cut a power-sharing deal to end Lebanon's political crisis and enabled the awaited return of the festival.

For the people of Lebanon the return of the festival is monumental as it provides a symbol of hope and peace.

More than 40,000 people are expected to converge on Baalbek for the festival that promises to showcase dramatic lighting in a unique historic setting.

The festival will feature leading global and local artists, including Beirut born pop star Mika, Mexican post modern diva Astrid Hadad, world famous soprano Hasmik Papian, Brazilian jazz artist Tania Maria, Arab diva Warda Al Jazayria and Lebanese pianist Abdel Rahman El Bacha.

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