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it's summertime in Tunisia

Jul 26, 2012

 Summer festivals occupy a major place in the Tunisian cultural scene. For Tunisians, cultural festivals are important, especially for those who cannot leave their cities or travel abroad, since they offer the chance to see both local and internationally renowned artists. As for tourists and expats, these festivals help offer a glimpse into the cultural identity of Tunisian cities.
Whether you are a local, an expat or a tourist, you’re bound to find something of interest with our guide to some of the festivals in Tunisia this summer.
The International Festival of Symphonic Music: El Jem, June 30 – July 17
Founded in 1985, the International Festival of Symphonic Music in El Jem attracts a large and distinctive audience who share a love for classical music. Not only does this festival offer its attendees a rather unique quality of music, it also presents them with the opportunity to experience the haunting beauty of the amphitheater, used centuries ago for gladiator shows and chariot races. The 27th edition, which runs from June 30 to July 17, features orchestras, including the Rome Symphony Orchestra, and the Arab Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. For more information, click here.
La Fête de la Mer: Mahdia, July 5 – 15
Sport, Art, Culture
Celebrating its 18th edition, the Festival of the Sea at Mahdia lasts from July 5 – 15. It offers locals and visitors a wide range of cultural and touristic activities, mainly sports tournaments and art galleries, and promotes the city of Mahdia as a summer destination. The Festival of the Sea in Mahdia is also an opportunity for visitors to discover this charming and historic city. The festival’s activities take place in different neighborhoods, including the Medina and the beach.

The International Festival of Carthage:  Tunis, July 5 – August 15
Performing Arts
Held outdoors amidst the ruins of ancient Carthage, the International Festival of Carthage is one of the most anticipated cultural events in Tunisia. Starting from July 5, the 2012 festival features a wide range of local and international artists. This year’s highlights include Mika and Alpha Blondy as well as Dhafer Youssef and Trio Joubran. Details and tickets are available on the website.

The Sfax International Festival: July 6 – August 14
Performing Arts
The International Festival of Sfax starts July 6 and continues until August 14. It features Tunisian, Turkish, Syrian, Palestinian and Greek musicians like Badiaa Bouhrizi, and Kamilya Jubran. Some festival shows will be held in Burj Ennar, bringing music into the heart of the medina of Sfax. For more information on the festival (in Arabic) check out their Facebook page.

The International Festival of Bizerte: July 9 – August 28
Performing Arts
Running from July 9 to August 28, the international festival of Bizerte will feature  several musicians like Saber Rebai and Bendirman, as well as renowned Tunisian plays, including Raja Farhat’s Bourguiba, la Dernière Prison (Bourguiba, the Last Prison). Not only will the festival offer a diverse selection of plays and concerts, it will also introduce newcomers to the coastal city of Bizerte, famous for its beaches, historic port and beautiful scenery.

The International Festival of  Hammamet : July 9 – August 18
Performing and Visual Arts
Ever since its creation in 1964, the International Festival of Hammamet has offered a rich program that celebrates different forms of art, particularly music and theater. This year, the festival lasts from July 9 to August 18. One of the highlights promises to be the Lebanese band Mahsrou’ Leila. The full program will be released on Friday July 6. Stay tuned for updates.
Update: find the program here.

F.E.L.T. reloaded:  Gabes, July 9-14
Performing and Visual Arts
Dealing with the themes of cultural decentralization and pollution, the F.E.L.T. festival targets young artists and promotes a culture of creativity, and citizenship. It features a wide range of music including reggae, blues, jazz and rock as well as and art, and runs from July 9 to 14. Check out their Facebook page for more information including a detailed program, which should be available soon.

The Boukornine festival: Hammam-Lif:  July 12 – August 14 
Performing Arts
Located in Tunis’ southern suburb of Hammam-Lif, the Boukornine festival offers a rich and diverse program starting from the July 12 to the August 14. The motto of the 33rd edition is “so that the art of dreaming continues.” This year some highlights include Marcel Khalifa and Nassir Chamma. Here is a link to the event.

Summer Nights in Kairouane,  July 13 – 4 August
Performing and Visual Arts
The Summer Nights festival focuses on the creativity of young artists and performers. According to Hammadi Baklouti, one of the festival organizers, the event “aims to branch out into all artistic disciplines and to promote a new vision for Tunisian culture.”

The National Festival of  Theater, Bizerte:  July 26-July 29   
Organized by the Ministry of Culture, the 22nd edition of the National Festival of Theater will entertain theater enthusiasts with a well-chosen collection of Tunisian plays, including the critically-acclaimed Tu vois ce que j’ai vu (You see what I’ve seen). The festival lasts 4 days starting from July 26. The festival was due to take place in June but has been postponed until July. At the moment there is no website but they should be posting information about other events soon.

The Festival of the Medina, Tunis: Ramadan (dates to be confirmed)
Performing and Visual Arts
The Festival of the Medina of Tunis is an annual music festival held during the month of Ramadan. The festival animates the forgotten and deserted spaces of the old city of Tunis with shows that strengthen the spiritual aspect of the month. Unfortunately, information about this year’s edition hasn’t been released yet, but we’ll let you know when it is. Even without a detailed guide, this festival is best experienced by wandering the streets of the Medina at night. The sights, smells, sounds and crowds of people will lead you to some wonderful and unexpected experiences.

FIFAK:  Kelibia, August 25 – September 1
The FIFAK is an international amateur film festival organized by the Tunisian Federation of Amateur Filmmakers in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Heritage Preservation and the contribution of the Municipality of Kelibia. Running from August 25 to September 1, FIFAK promotes the work of amateur filmmakers allowing them to share their cinematic experiences with the audience and film critics. FIFAK is the summer destination of hundreds of movie goers, film enthusiasts and students of cinema from all parts of the country and the world. For more information click here.

Pop In Djerba, August 27 – September 2
Down on the beautiful island of the lotus eaters, this festival promises to be one of the highlights of the summer with a terrific lineup of local and international acts across a range of alternative music genres. Tunisian new-folk singer Emel Methlouthi, Kiwis Connan Mockasin, French performers College, Gilb’r and Success as well as the ironically named Egyptian Hip Hop (they are from Britain and don’t play hip hop) are amongst those who have confirmed. Tickets for the three-day event are 80 dinars. Here is a link to their website.
A number of other festivals are likely to be put on throughout the country this summer. However, we’ve been unable at this stage to confirm information on many of them. Some of the ones that the Tourism office have told us about, or that usually happen in the summer include:

Festival of Sidi Bouzid 4-16 July
Fête de la Poisson (Fish Festival), La Goulette, Tunis, July
Hammamet en Fête, July
Summer Festival, Sidi Bouzid, end of July
Fête de la Poisson (Fish Festival), La Goulette, Tunis, July
Festival de la Poterie (Pottery Festival), Gallala, August
Festival de la Sculture sur le Bois (Festival of Wood Sculpture), Ain Draham, August
Festival de la Sirène (Mermaid Festival), Kerkenah Islands, August
Les Nuits de la Marsa, Tunis, usually in August
International Festival of Monastir
International Festival of Sousse
Festival Foussana, Kasserine, August

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