Learning in Lebanon: 6 Cultural Adventures You Need to Share With Your Family
Other than the myriad festivals that flourish in the Lebanese summer, there is a spectacular diversity of things to explore with the entire family. It can be a challenge to separate ourselves and our kids from the internet, phones and other technology. So finding interesting shared forms of engagement is key, especially when they can foster or spark an unexpected talent or passion. Take advantage of the family time off school to experience the creative and historical wealth of Lebanon.
Many of these provide deep educational, artistic and cultural opportunities, and many of them are free! Here’s some of our favourite options:
1- Beirut Art Center
Beirut Art Center is a non-profit that serves as a platform for experimental and cultural art practice. On offer are exhibitions, a prolific library of films, media and texts, and a broad range of cutting edge lectures, performances, concerts, screenings and workshops. With something of interest available year round, Beirut Art Center offers an integral system of support for local and regional artists. Go explore, and find something new to learn and share!
2- Al-Madina Theatre
This iconic theatre is one of Beirut’s oldest, emerging after the civil war to revitalize the cultural life of the city. A non-profit organization, it offers an incredible variety of quality plays, dance, music, comedy, and storytelling performances, exhibitions, film screenings, lectures, workshops and more. Alternative, innovative, and compelling in its cultural depth, a visit will offer something for every member of the family, regardless of age. Find out more at their Facebook page:
Located in Bourj Hammoud, commonly known as ‘Little Armenia’, Badguèr is a little pink house that serves as an Armenian cultural center. Other than offering delicious food, the home is a hub for traditional Armenian trade workshops, artisan training and exhibitions, dance and music performances, and other heritage preserving and knowledge-sharing activities. Again, there is something for everyone to enjoy, and it is nestled in one of the most ethnically diverse, densely populated, and souk-rich neighbourhoods to explore and learn from. Find out more from their Facebook page:
4- Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra
For an unforgettable classical music experience, check out the free weekly concerts offered by the orchestra at the St. Joseph Church, or choose from their elaborate appearances at most of the major national festivals. One of the only state-sponsored cultural institutions, the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra performs over 30 concerts a season. And if they interest you, make sure to also check out the Lebanese Oriental Orchestra, founded by the same conductor. They offer bi-weekly concerts at the University of St. Joseph. Explore the event listings in the links below:
5- Food Heritage Foundation
One of our favourites, the Food Heritage Foundation is a non-profit that aims to conserve ‘Lebanon’s Indigenous culinary knowledge’. Its website reveals an array of beautiful projects, ranging from community gardens, kitchens and farmers markets, recipe collections, the cultivating of economic relationships with local farmers and producers, and the coordination of food tourism activities.
You can sign up to follow the Food Trail and join the apple, mulberry, and olive harvests with farmers in the West Bekaa and Higher Shouf villages. You can learn to make Charab el-Hosroum the ancestral way, make bulgur from wheat, and discover the ancient method of steaming and drying figs.
You can be guided by a Shepherd through the Lebanese mountains, and have the history of the landscape narrated to you. And last but not least, you can collect wild edible plants and be educated on their health and medicinal benefits through the knowledge of the village women. What are you waiting for? This involves eating too. Check out the website to plan your family extravaganza.
6- Museum hopping
Lebanon has a remarkable set of museums to choose from, that can spark various interests and age groups. Although we might know they are there, we often forget to revisit and keep the thread alive with our new generations.
So, check out the National Museum of Beirut, the Silk Museum in Bsous, the Lebanese Marine and Wildlife Museum in Jeita, the Byblos Wax Museum, the Saida Soap Museum, the Palestinian Museum, AUB Archaeological Museum, Sursock Museum and last but not least, the Baalbak Museum. Each one offers inspiration and a different expanse of knowledge, history, and perspective. Check out links for each in our reference list below.
We hope this list helps you get your cultural adventures this summer started!