BEIRUT (AFP) – Award-winning jazz artist Diana Krall, pop sensation Mika and operatic quartet Il Divo will head the bill in a line-up of stars performing in Lebanon’s summer festivals, scheduled to begin next month.
Lebanon, which registered a record year for tourism in 2009, hosts three prestigious festivals — Baalbeck, Beiteddine and Byblos — which are major attractions for tourists visiting the tiny Mediterranean country.
The Baalbeck International Festival, which was officially launched in 1956 and is the oldest in the Middle East, runs from June 24 to August 7 and is staged among spectacular Roman ruins in eastern Lebanon.
The festival opens with a concert by Lebanese-born pop sensation Mika and features performances by jazz saxophonist Odean Pope, the Boris Eifman Ballet Theatre and Iraqi musician Naseer Shamaa.
The Beiteddine Festival runs from June 25 to August 6 and stars award-winning pianist and singer Diana Krall, multi-national pop opera quartet Il Divo and Lebanese jazz icon Ziad Rahbani.
The Beiteddine concerts are held in a palatial 19th century residence in the Shouf mountains, an area of green hills and traditional villages southeast of Beirut popular with tourists.
The Byblos International Festival, staged against a backdrop of Phoenician ruins in the ancient port of Byblos north of Beirut, will announce its programme on June 1.
The festivals were cancelled in past years because of political crises, assassinations and all-out war, but made a comeback in 2008.
They were largely sold out last year with the arrival of a record two million tourists in Lebanon.
The three international festivals are widely expected to attract thousands of visitors this year despite rising tension in the region.