1. The Lettuce Festival, 2. The Bird Watching Festival, 3. The Palestine International Festival of Music and Dance, 4. The Shashat Women’s Film Festival, 5. The Taybeh Oktoberfest, 6. Vinfest in Taybeh, 7. The Jerusalem Music Festival, 8. The Birzeit Heritage Week Festival, 9. Olive Harvest Festival, 10. The Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival. Most visitors to Palestine are unaware that, in addition to the actual monuments and shrines to see, there are numerous cultural and musical activities taking place practically every day of the week. Aside from these regular events, there are other annual festivals held throughout the year, each offering a distinct experience to locals and visitors alike. Let's have a look at the top 10 most famous festivals in Palestine.
- The Lettuce Festival
- The Bird Watching Festival
- The Palestine International Festival of Music and Dance
- The Shashat Women’s Film Festival
- The Taybeh Oktoberfest
- Vinfest in Taybeh
- The Jerusalem Music Festival
- The Birzeit Heritage Week Festival
- Olive Harvest Festival
- The Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival
The Lettuce Festival
The Lettuce Festival, one of the most famous festivals in Palestine, takes place in the lovely village of Artas just south of Bethlehem near Solomon’s Pools. The festival has brought locals and visitors together in a joyful festival celebrating and honoring the timeless Palestinian peasant since its inception in 1994. The Artas Folklore Center’s organized event is certainly an experience since you get to mingle with the living stones of this ancient land and experience Palestinian hospitality and culture firsthand.
Artas, a lovely village just south of Bethlehem, is at a crossroads of ecosystems, is steeped in traditions and folklore of various civilizations, and holds the distinction of being Palestine’s most documented settlement.
Artas is well-known for its fertile valley, which is primarily planted with lettuce. The residents of the hamlet would like to share the delight of the lettuce harvest with you. They have planned a cultural program incorporating traditional Palestinian songs and dances, which will be performed at Solomon’s Pools amphitheater. Everyone is welcome!
Location: Artas, Palestine
The Bird Watching Festival
Bird watchers are growing increasingly interested in Palestine. Its location at the crossroads of Africa, Asia, and Europe provides a route for the biannual migration of over 500 million birds, who travel from Africa through Palestine, into Europe and Asia, and then return to Africa in the fall.
The country features a remarkable diversity of ecosystems, each with its own set of birds. Furthermore, you may go birdwatching among some of the world’s most famous ancient and historical sites, including the Jericho region, Wadi Quilt, and the Jerusalem Wilderness. In Palestine, the Palestine Wildlife Society has recognized 13 Important Bird Areas.
Around March, the Jericho Botanical Gardens host a Bird Watching Festival. The festival will allow you to explore the Jordan Valley’s migratory bird trail. Other activities of the festival, in addition to bird watching, include tree planting and excursions to archaeological sites in the Jericho area.
Dates: March to April
The Palestine International Festival of Music and Dance
The Palestine International Festival of Music and Dance is a creative culture and arts endeavor that interacts with the outside world and helps to break the cultural barriers that have been imposed on Palestine and the Palestinian people for decades. The Festival, at its core, has a cultural and artistic quality, and it provides the Palestinian population with much-needed entertainment.
The Palestine International Festival of Music and Dance is held annually in Ramallah, Jenin, Hebron, Gaza, and Jerusalem by the Popular Art Centre. It is, without a doubt, the most international festival to be hosted on the West Bank. Of course, it’s a celebration of Palestinian artists and legacy as well. In 2005, the festival expanded beyond Ramallah into a number of West Bank settlements and refugee camps. Music and dance groups from Spain, Greece, Chile, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Iraq, and Turkey have participated in the festivals. The event’s scope has made it a “must-do” for both seasoned and first-time visitors to Palestine.
Dates: July to August
The Shashat Women’s Film Festival
The Shashat Women’s Film Festival in Palestine is the Arab world’s only ongoing yearly women’s film festival. Shashat, which means “screens” in Arabic, hosted its debut festival in 2005 and is now in its seventh year as part of the project “I am a Woman from Palestine.”
In collaboration with nine Palestinian colleges and other cultural and community centers, the festival travels throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It honors Palestinian, Arab, and international women’s films while exploring the social and cultural ramifications of women’s portrayals. The festival includes screenings, debates, panels, workshops, and the Arabic subtitling of chosen films.
The festival’s seventh edition focuses on Palestinian women filmmakers and includes the following components: a three-month intensive training/production workshop in Gaza that resulted in six films by young Gazan women filmmakers; four productions by established women filmmakers; 85 screenings/discussions in 13 Palestinian cities followed by social consultancies; and six specially produced TV programmers.
The European Union, the Heinrich Boll Foundation, the Goteborg Film Fund, and the Ford Foundation are all contributing to the seventh edition of the festival.
The Taybeh Oktoberfest
The Taybeh Oktoberfest is place in Palestine on September 19th and 20th, 2015. The Taybeh Oktoberfest was the strangest idea someone could have for a Middle Eastern celebration. The festival’s concept of promoting local items manufactured in rural areas sounded ideal. The festival grew in popularity thanks to substantial worldwide media coverage, although Taybeh lacked the necessary infrastructure to organize what become to be known as one of the most famous festivals in Palestine.
The Taybeh Oktoberfest gave all of the local women cooperatives and small companies two days to showcase their products such as olive oil, honey, soap, ceramic lamps, needlework, and so on.
The most incredible aspect of Taybeh Oktoberfest was the tremendous cultural and musical interaction that was available with the many groups that performed, which ranged from traditional Palestinian music, dabkeh, to rock, rap, and hip-hop. Various groups were sponsored to perform from places where they would return to Brazil, Germany, Japan, Greece, or the United Kingdom and share with their family and friends not only that Palestine has an Oktoberfest, but also that Palestinians have a rich culture of music, art, sports, foods, clothing, traditions, and so on.
Vinfest in Taybeh
The Taybeh Vinfest, one of the most festivals in Palestinian, takes place in February annually, at the new Taybeh Winery in Palestine. Its goal is to introduce new Palestinian boutique wines to locals and internationals through a fun evening of fine wine, music, and food.
The Taybeh Vinfest, held for the first time in the village, will feature local musicians such as Nazal Zanyed with the Mina Band on Friday night. Mina Band was founded in 2009 by Emile Hani and Nazal Zanyed with numerous Palestinian musicians while they were students at Birzeit Music School. Mina Band represents traditional music from the Middle East and North Africa, which the band performs in an oriental style. They also perform Spanish music that has been rearranged to produce current fusion music.
On the night, jazz music will be performed by Joseph Dugmaq, a saxophone teacher at the Edward Said National Music Conservatory, and Mohammed Qutati. The Taybeh Vinfest, an annual wine festival in cold weather, will establish a new tradition based on the idea of promoting a boutique Palestinian wine with amazing local music and distinctive art. The amazing artworks of Nabil Anani and Tayseer Barakat are still on display in the stunning foyer of the new Taybeh Golden Hotel. The combination of outstanding wines, music, and art will create a nice atmosphere for anyone to enjoy.
Location: Taybeh Winery, Palestine
The Jerusalem Music Festival
Every year, The Jerusalem Music Festival takes place in the backdrop of culture’s social and national significance in the city of Jerusalem’s survival battle. Cultural expression allows the Palestinian people to remain strong and keep their hopes and dreams for a better future alive. National identity is cultivated and interwoven into history through a variety of human activities, including music, theater, cinema, poetry, fiction, thought, education, architecture, and sociopolitical action. These various activities tell the tale of a people who are deeply entrenched in their homeland and who work persistently to attain freedom, independence, and progress.
Since its inception in 1996, The Jerusalem Music Festival has displayed an artistic-cultural vision in this annual event of diverse arts presented in diverse locations throughout the city. The Festival has attracted a huge number of participants and adhered to the philosophy of collaboration and participation with artists and community organizations. Furthermore, in order to promote local capacities and create popular cultural platforms, the Festival has prioritized local productions. The Festival is a forward-thinking national arts festival.
People can take part in a variety of cultural events and activities in Jerusalem, including music, dancing, literature, film screenings, children’s programs, and improvisations.
Date: August – September
Location: Jerusalem, Palestine
The Birzeit Heritage Week Festival
A typical Palestinian wedding serves as the opening ceremony and a unique feature. Visitors to the Festival will be able to witness millennia-old wedding rituals such as women carrying flower-bedecked trays of henna to be applied to the bride, the joyous singing and call-and-response chanting of the “al-zaffeh” accompanying the groom, and the “al-suffeh” head-dress and tunic decorated with exquisite traditional Palestinian embroidery, a technique that came to Palestine in the 8th century when Dama The ceremony concludes with an energetic and extremely traditional “dabka” dance, which expresses the pleasure of fresh beginnings represented by weddings.
The Birzeit Heritage Week Festival, which is held under the supervision of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, highlights a key emphasis of Rozana’s work in rural tourism: establishing networks and partnerships to promote sustainable experiential tourism and strengthen local economies in the Birzeit area and beyond. Rozana has worked with a variety of local and international organizations over the years.
Location: Birzeit, Palestine
Olive Harvest Festival
Autumn in Palestine is a particularly lovely season for everyone. The harvesting of olives provides an opportunity not only to sample traditional national delights fresh from the soil but also to connect the traditional festivals that honor this fruit “Jarou’a.” Canaan celebrated the “Jarou’a” (Olive Harvest Festival), a festival full of hospitality and the spirit of the land and farmers, honoring the life, the soil, and the human legacy of the Land of Canaan, which is rooted in the olive tree.
Canaan worked hard to make the 14th “Jarou’a” (Olive Harvest Festival) a success. All of Canaan’s farmers, families, friends, and partners from around the world joined us in joy and cheer, dancing “Dabka” to harvest music. Tourists can come to taste the delicious Musakhan dinner produced by local women cooperatives, as well as freshly baked Taboun bread with freshly pressed olive oil and mint tea on bonfires.
The Palestinian ritual of “Jarou’a” was always an event to remember each year for each farmer as they finished their magnificent harvest. The items have traveled all over the world for over 14 years, bringing global awareness to Palestinian farmers, their culture, and their tradition of living with the land.
Location: in the Land of Canaan, Palestine
The Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival
Sareyyet Ramallah organizes The Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival every year. As one of the most famous festivals in Palestina, it is a contemporary dance-focused creative festival that was founded in 2006. The Masahat Contemporary Dance Network, which includes Maqamat Dance Theater in Lebanon, Tanween Dance Theater in Syria, and The National Center for Culture and Performing Arts in Jordan, was founded in 2007. These groups have been co-organizing contemporary dance festivals since 2007.
Sareyyet Ramallah also works to increase Palestinian kids’ access to culture and hosts a three-week festival that has performers from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine. This festival, in addition to a great number of performances, also organizes a number of workshops for the community. This mix of spectatorship and engagement produces a lively and creative environment for visitors to come and appreciate the finest that Palestinian, and indeed international, performance artists have to offer.
The Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival’s goal is to promote conversation and cultural exchange between Palestinians and people all over the world. It also intends to familiarize the Palestinian people with a variety of modern dance genres and strengthen the skills of individuals who work in the dance sector in Palestine. The Festival is aimed at the Palestinian population in general, and specifically at the youth sector.
The Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival received the Qattan Distinction Award for Distinguished Cultural Work in 2008.