Liverpool Arab Arts Festival celebrates 20 years in the city with packed programme

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival celebrates 20 years in the city with packed programme

A ten-day festival of Arab music and culture is underway across venues in Liverpool starting this Thursday evening at the Liverpool Philharmonic Music Room.

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival (LAAF) has put together a diverse programme of events for their 2022 edition, curated around the theme ‘A Point of Connection’ – Nuqtat Wasl in Arabic – and marking 20 years since the first festival was held in the city.

Earlier this year, festival fans welcomed the news that the hugely popular Family Day will return to the Sefton Park Palm House after a two-year hiatus brought on by the pandemic. Taking place on Sunday 17 July, the spectacular free finale will feature music, traditional food and family fun.

Live music performances on the day include festival favourites TootArd, with the trailblazing duo from the Golan heights returning to Liverpool with a new album and a new sound – an 80s Arabic style blend with modern synth.

They’ll be joined at the Palm House by first-time festival performer Aar Maanta, who brings an eclectic mix of styles to the stage, with rock and reggae rubbing shoulders with traditional Arabic and Somali music. Described by young Somalis as “the voice of our generation” the pop star will bring his full band to the Palm House stage. The internationally renowned pop star’s latest album, Ubadkaa Mudnaanta Leh, which means “Children Have Priority’ was recorded with young Somali children in Minneapolis.

The musical line-up also includes Gazelleband – Palestinian oud player Reem Anbar with writer musician Louis Brehony – who bring the modern traditions of the middle east to the wider world. Plus long-time Family Day friends Yemeni band Al Awadhel Band will return.

The Family Day crowd will also get the chance to experience Hawiyya Dance Company and El-Funoun Palestinian Dance Troupe’s unique blend of Dabke and contemporary dance, while poet Ali Al-Jamri will bring a unique display of local children’s poetry and provide young visitors with the chance to add their own work.

Elias Matar will be performing interactive storytelling sessions for Family Day. Join Elias as he takes us on a journey across borders, walls, and time. Great for all ages – a chance to discover the secrets, magic, and joy of live storytelling.

Liverpool Philharmonic Hall Music Room will also host another ever-popular inclusion on the festival programme, on Friday 15th July. The London Syrian Ensemble, led by composer and Ney soloist Louai Alhenawi, is a stunning collective of eight musicians and graduates from Syria’s renowned Damascus Conservatoire. This show reveals their new project, Sounds of Syria, a dynamic and emotional work, which brings to the stage new instrumental arrangements by composers from Syria and its diaspora.

The festival offers a range of other opportunities for people to get involved through artist-led sessions, including a free family-friendly workshop at World Museum Liverpool make your own maps with artist Jessica El Mal.

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival and SAFAR Film Festival have also curated a series of screenings at VideOdyssey in Toxteth, including a tour of contemporary Arab cinema through a diverse selection of short films which explore the 2022 SAFAR festival theme, ‘The Stories We Tell’, and a screening of Khadar Ayderus Ahmed’s The Grave Digger’s Wife, which centres on a family facing impossible loss, and the lengths one man will go for his beloved.

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival (LAAF) takes place from 7th to the 17th July 2022 across various city venues. For full information and to book tickets visit


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