About the Festival

For the 14th consecutive year, the Spring of Culture Festival returns in a new cultural season full of activities that cater to various tastes, interests and age groups and underscore the Kingdom of Bahrain’s position as a leading regional and global cultural hub.

This latest season of the festival comes as part of BACA’s year-long celebrations of Bahrain’s achievements under the slogan “From Jubilee to Another”- A Year of Celebrations. As is the case every year, the festival is set to kick off on February 25 in conjunction with Arab Tourism Day, an occasion which was adopted when Manama was the Capital of Arab Tourism in 2013 to mark the birthday of the great Arab traveler Ibn Battuta.

The 2019 festival season features numerous art exhibitions, starting with the 45th Bahrain Fine Arts Exhibition which takes place at the Arena Tent at the Ritz Carlton Bahrain Hotel in Manama and highlights the works of various Bahraini and expat artists in the Kingdom. The Bahrain National Museum meanwhile will host three exhibitions: “Design Crossroads: The Jewellery of Saudi Arabia”, the “Golden Jubilee Celebration of Bahraini Diplomacy” and the “Bahrain National Museum: A 30th Anniversary Retrospective”.

The Memory of the Place – Bin Matar House will host the exhibition “CERN in Bahrain”, a showcase of the wonderful world of physics and secrets of the universe. For its part, Albareh Art Gallery will host the fine arts exhibition “Nostalgia” highlighting the glass creations of artist Jamal Al-Yousif that reflect the “subconscious warmth that one feels from nostalgia”. Another exhibition, “Pathaways” by the Artist Rasmi Al-Kafaji, features monochromatic watercolours that reveal the final hitherto unknown outcomes of the painting process. The Art Centre will host an exhibition of its own entitled “Noor” by Artist Marwa Rashid Al Khalifa that takes the public on a journey of her incredible paintings, photography and light installations, while La Fontaine Centre presents the Turkish exhibition “Spark!” featuring the works of Ali Abayoglu, an artist who sees beauty in what others deem to be rubbish and transforms these objects into charming and vibrant artworks using mundane materials. Another exhibition, held at the Bahrain National Theatre, will allow audiences to witness the beauty of the traditional Korean costume known as the Hanbok. Studio 244, a joint initiative between the Supreme Council for the Environment and BACA will transform Arad Bay Protected Area and Park into an open space for multiple art activities.

The Spring of Culture Festival is replete with song, music and theatre performances, including Scheherazade at the Bahrain National Theatre, a Russian ballet inspired by the tales of 1,001 Nights and first performed by one of the most influential ballet groups of the 20th century. The Bahrain Theatre will also host a musical evening “Alongside You” honouring the journey of the Bahraini icon Khalid Al Shaikh featuring the Bahrain Music Band and led by maestro Khalifa Zaiman, as well as a performance of Don Giovanni and the music of maestro Rene Jacobs performed by the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra.

Bahraini folk music is also very much present in this edition of the festival, where, starting from February 28, the Mohammed Bin Fares Hall for Fan Al-Sout in Muharraq will host the Mohammed Bin Fares Band in weekly evening concerts every Thursday that highlight the song heritage of diving, pearls, and other occasions. Dar Al-Riffa will also highlight the area’s local heritage, while Dar Al-Muharraq will celebrate the mystical chants and rhythms of the unique fjiri musical genre.

The Cultural Hall, in turn, is set to host a multicultural series of live performances, including a taste of quintessential Italian sounds by the Hathor Plectrum Quartet and tenor Aldo Gallone, while the Miyabi Ensemble showcases Japan’s signature Taiko drums and other traditional instruments such as the shinobue in two concerts. In addition, the Cultural Hall will host a journey through the traditions of Azeri, Kurdish, Syrian and Armenian music by the Haidouti Orkestar, as well as Germany’s Arcis Saxophon Quartet which will pay tribute to the great masters of music, followed by Ahmed Effat will pay homage to Abdel Halim Hafez on accompanied by the Arabic Music Ensemble.

The Cultural Hall concert series continues with American pianist Steven Lin and his virtuoso performance of classic works of masters that changed the course of music history forever such as Beethoven, Liszt and Schumann, as well as artist Scott Booth who will present his unique style of complex rhythms on the six-string guitar. Audience will also be treated to the audio-visual feast that is Korean fusion band QUEEN with its unique blend of traditional and contemporary elements.

At the Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Centre for Culture and Research, young Azerbaijani artist Ghochag Askarov will perform alongside three musicians a showcase of Azerbaijan’s Sufi music, while artist Macadi Nahhas will sing select classics that highlight Arab and Jordanian music heritage with a contemporary flavour.

And what would the festival be without the Economic Development Board’s concert series, which this year will be held at a purpose-built theatre in Bahrain Bay and headlined by several Bahraini, Arab and international artists, including Daffy and Flipperachi featuring DJ Outlaw and Saudi rapper Lil Eazy, Almaty Symphony Orchestra’s “Mr. Adam”, Majid Al Muhandis and Sherine Abdel-Wahab, Playing for Change Band and Steve Winwood. The concerts will be interspersed with street theatre acts from around the world, including the Ghana Acrobatics and Sulky M1 from the Netherlands.

The Bahrain Fort also has a share in this year’s festival as it hosts the interactive “Sound and Light” display which brings to life the history of ancient site from the Dilmun civilization to today. La Fontaine Centre will also host a music and dance show of its own entitled “Tango Dancing”.
Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Centre for Culture and Research will lead the slate of literary and intellectual events of the festival. The programme culture, Dr. Amal Moussa from Tunisia on political Islam and the issue of gender equality, Lebanese TV host Giselle Khoury on the freedom of expression and the status of media in the Arab world, Algerian TV host Fadilah Farouk on women’s literature from biographies to women’s issues and Mai Al-Masri on women’s cinema and her movie 3000 Nights. Lectures will also take place at the Abdullah Al-Zayed House for Bahraini Press Heritage, including Olfa Oueslati from Tunisia to talk about her experience in the media world, as well as Al-Khalifiya Library in Muharraq where Dr. Dheya Al Kaabi will discuss the book Belated Travelers by Ali Behdad.

In addition to literature, the festival will shed light on poetry, with the Ebrahim Al-Arrayed House of Poetry hosting readings by Moroccan poet Abdulrahim AlKhassar entitled “I Banged the Drums to Sing and War Broke Out” and Kuwaiti poet Abdullah Al-Failakawi entitled “Prayers from the Heart”.

At Bab Al-Bahrain, BACA will continue the weekly Thursday events of 5 PM at Bab, offering visitors a variety of family-friendly activities that reflect the dynamics of the locale and its historical value. The Spring of Culture Festival will also witness the inauguration of “Manama of Al-Gosaibi”, a project by Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Centre for Culture and Research to preserve the legacy of Ghazi Al-Gosaibi in a heritage house that has retained its beautiful traditional architectural features.

Cinephiles will not feel left out either, with a full program of events highlighting the art of filmmaking, including the Japanese Film Festival at the Bahrain National Museum. The documentary film “Finding Vivian Maier” will be shown at Memory of the Place – Bin Matar House, while Qal’at al Bahrain Site Museum will show Safar Barlik on classic Arabic movie night.

In conjunction, the Spring Culture Festival features several educational tours that illuminate various aspects of Bahrain’s ancient heritage, including a morning tour to explore the farms of northern Bahrain and learn about the local agriculture and traditional farming methods. The landmarks along the Pearling Path, Bahrain’s second UNESCO World Heritage Site, will be explored on foot in a special walkathon, while the tour exploring the island’s long-used fisheries locations will give participants the opportunity to learn how to make traditional traps from readily available natural materials around the Bahrain Fort.

As for panel discussions and talks, Bin Matar House will host the latest of its “Majlis Talk” series with Artist Camille Zakharia to explore into the topic of artists’ books. The Bahrain National Museum will host a forum and book launch focusing on the experience of Artist Khalid Al Shaikh, followed by a panel discussion to mark the launch of the Food is Culture 4 book. Bin Matar House will also host a public event in which attendees will spend the day discovering various photographic techniques.

The 14th Spring of Culture Festival programme also features a fair share of international conferences and meetings, including the 7th Annual Coordination Meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage at the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage to highlight historical urban landscape of the world’s cultural heritage.

The Centre will moreover organise a series of events entitled “A Conversation on Hawar: Preservation and Development”. BACA, meanwhile, will hold a press conference to give an update on the participation of the Kingdom of Bahrain in the Expo 2020 Dubai.

To top it all off, the festival also offers fantastic youth-oriented educational programmes and workshops designed to develop their budding artistic skills.

To stay up to date on all festival news, we invite you to follow us on our official account (@springofculture) on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. You can find the all the details on the various events and activities and register in any of the various workshops by visiting (www.springofculture.org).

We sincerely hope that this year’s Spring of Culture Festival programme excites and delights, because your support and engagement is what makes these events and activities truly memorable.

Thank you and enjoy the celebrations!