Having first launched in 1998, the annual Liverpool Arab Arts Festival gathers artists and speakers from all over the MENA and diaspora for a weeklong celebration of Arab identity, culture and history. 

Though it will be taking place online this year, the festival features a packed lineup of musicals acts, art installations, guest speakers, film screenings, poetry and lectures, starting Thursday July 9th, and continuing through Saturday July 18th. This year, ‘attendance’ will be free of charge, though donations are very welcomed.

Among the musical highlights of the festival are an intimate performance by Levantine music producer/visual artist, Hello Psychaleppo, as well as the return of Daraa Tribes, a musical supergroup from the Daara River Valley in Morocco, who fuse desert blues with the ancestral tribal music of the region. Meanwhile, Walead Ben Selim and Moroccan musical collective, N3rdistan, are set to open the festival.

“Our artists, along with our festival team, have worked so hard together to deliver a programme that will, hopefully, inspire as well as entertain audiences,” director of the festival, Anne Thwaite, told Good News Liverpool. “In 20 years, this is the first time we won’t be gathering together for the festival, but we will be together virtually. This crisis is affecting many communities in different ways and it is the power of art and culture to help shine a light on experience, while helping us to be more empathetic of each other. We’ve gained a lot in the past three months of being able to talk and share ideas in lockdown, so we’re looking forward to bringing that into people’s homes.”

Check out the Arab Arts Festivals website for a more detailed breakdown of their lineup. All performances will be streamed via the festival's Facebook page.