BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The third annual community festival, Bet Lahem Live, is returning to the ancient Palestinian city on August 6, organizers say.
The festival consists of four full days of activities including concerts, workshops, parades, theater productions, justice and faith panels, multi-faith activities, movie screenings, art galleries, creative hubs, and a variety of community activities.
This year the theme of Bet Lahem Live is "Ta'alo Zay Ma Entu," or "Come As You Are," and the festival will promote an atmosphere of acceptance and respect for the diversity of faiths, cultures, and people represented.
A multitude of countries will be represented as well, with musicians and artists coming from the UK, Germany, Japan, Thailand, and Brazil to join the host of local artists already performing.
The three pillars of the festival are culture, faith, and justice.
One of the festival's missions is the revival
of the historic Star Street in the Old City of Bethlehem where the festival takes place. After each festival, the street has seen an increase in investments with new shops, cafes, a school, and more.
Bet Lahem Live, which first opened in 2013, is described as a community project empowering local organizations, artists, youth and community committees to take action in defining their future and addressing some of the most important topics that affect the daily realities but also relate to the global community.
Some of the workshops and panels available to attendees cover topics such as recycling, fair trade, female participation in civil society, nonlinear thinking, yoga, music therapy, agri-resistance, engaged Buddhism, kids summer camp, religious engagement in social transformation, artistic innovation in Palestine, and environmental awareness.
This year's festival will feature the eternal flame from the city of Hiroshima at the opening ceremony -- the flame has been burning for 70 years to remember the dropping of the atomic bomb over the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan by the United States.
Last year the festival had around 15,000 attendees, about a 150 percent increase from the year before, and this year it is expected to easily surpass 20,000.
Bet Lahem Live is sponsored by the Holy Land Trust, under the auspices of Bethlehem Municipality and Governorate, the Ministry of Tourism, and in partnership with the Bank of Palestine, the Greenbelt Festival, and in cooperation with the Committee of Star Street's inhabitants and the community of Bethlehem.