Beirut: Culture and Arts
Paris of the Middle East
Beirut’s culture and arts scene is a little more subdued now than in the days before the civil war when Beirut attracted performers, artists, and cultural exhibits from all over the Middle East. That’s not to say that you won’t find opportunities to enjoy culture and the arts when on holiday in Beirut, and Beirut is certainly the centre for culture in Lebanon. However, the lack of reliable funding for culture and the arts in Beirut means that you may have to search a little harder to find theatrical or artistic happenings.
There is a calendar of festivals in Beirut for those seeking out the culture and arts scene on holiday. Film festivals are particularly well attended, including the Beirut Ayam Cinema’iyya, which is held every two years, and Ne a Beyrouth, a yearly film festival usually held in August. These Beirut film festivals include a showcase of Lebanese and Arab filmmakers. You’ll also find annual performing arts programmes - such as the Al-Bustan, Beiteddine and Baalbek festivals - and the Beirut International Jazz Festival in the summer.
The best places to explore the arts on holiday in Beirut tend to be the various foreign cultural centres, which also play host to various events throughout the year. You’ll find Lebanese and International Art at both Beirut’s Sursock Museum and the Matignon Gallery, and opportunities to soak up some culture and history at the National Museum of Beirut and the AUB Museum.