Concern-causing concerts! Baalbek Festival returns despite security incidents
The security situation in Lebanon in the summer of 2013 hit the Baalbek International Festival hard. A number of performances were canceled and those that went ahead were held not in the Bekaa Valley but in La Magnanerie, a 19th-century silk factory in Sad al-Bouchrieh.
This year the festival is going back home to Baalbek, with a total of six performances scheduled to take place in the Temple of Bacchus throughout the month of August.
Recent security incidents, however, have raised questions about the status of the festival in the minds of performers and audiences, said head of the festival organizing committee Nayla de Freije.
Two deadly car bomb attacks occurred in the Bekaa Valley in March, while a further fatal blast June 20 killed one police officer and injured 32 people on the Beirut-Damascus highway in Dahr al-Baidar. Subsequent deadly explosions in Beirut June 24 and 25 triggered widespread raids by security forces, and warnings of more attacks to come have meant that tensions across the country remain high.
Some of the performers “have been asking [us] questions,” de Freije told The Daily Star, “and some others haven’t [asked anything].”
She added that none of the performances have been canceled, expressing hope that the festival would go ahead as planned.
Ticket sales were initially brisk, de Freije revealed, but they have slowed.
“The first days of June were encouraging,” she said, “but the rhythm [has] reduced a little bit.”
She added that the Lebanese have a tendency to plan things at the last minute, explaining that she was not worried regarding the success of this year’s festival.
The Baalbek International Festival is set to open July 30 with a performance by the Bekaa Valley’s beloved Lebanese artist Assi El Hallani.