News Column

Faqra readies for five-day carnival-like festival

August 6, 2014

BEIRUT: Organizers of the annual street circus in Faqra, Mount Lebanon, will press on with a five-day festival starting Wednesday, despite ongoing clashes in the northeastern border town of Arsal.

"Faqra is a safe area, everyone goes up there when things aren't safe," said Natasha Gedeon, project coordinator at Matisse Events, which has planned the Faqra Street Circus for the past four years. "Unfortunately, we canceled the fireworks show due to the political situation."

Fireworks will be the only staple event missing from this year's festival, held each year on the grounds of Faqra Club. The town of Kfar Debian will host a foreign circus troupe, children's activities and a design and crafts exhibit featuring local creators from Wednesday through Aug. 17, a long weekend for most due to a Christian holiday Aug. 15.

Organizers themed this year's event on "magic and illusion," Gedeon said. Entertainment will include London-based performance group Invisible Circus, returning for a second year of acrobatics and magic shows.

New to this year's event will be Tape Over Berlin, a crew of artists whose method of using tape as an art medium was born out of Berlin's thriving electronic music scene. The artists will work with colorful tape live on site to produce 3-D images, Gedeon said. Other guests include singer Lara Eidi coming from Greece.

One of the highlights of the summer festival is the designer exhibit, which will showcase 50 different local brands from around the country: "[There's] everything: furniture, accessories, gadgets, jewelry, clothing and food," Gedeon said.

Unlike most of Lebanon's major festivals, which focus on the fine arts or musical performances, Faqra's annual fair has a family bent. In addition to circus and magic shows, Oh Happy Days! kids' entertainment group will offer small workshops like face painting, arts and crafts and inflatable play areas. Organizers have also added a "chill out" area with a bar staffed by Mar Mikhael haunt Epicery, from 4-10 p.m. each day, except for Aug. 17 when the festival closes at 8 p.m.

Regardless of the security situation, organizers said the show must go on. Asked whether she thinks violence in Arsal will deter visitors, Gedeon said: "Hopefully not."

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Source: Daily Star, The (Lebanon)

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