The 8th Spring of Culture’s rich and diverse program includes over 30 events this year, catering to all tastes. The Festival launch coincides with the selection of Manama as the Capital of Arab Tourism. Under the slogan “Revealing Bahrain ”, the echoes of a rich national cultural parade will fill the atmosphere of Bahrain with culture and art, featuring art galleries, music, song, poetry, intellectual and political seminars and lectures, as well as a dazzling selection of art, theatre and technology performed with marvelous vitality for families and children. At a press conference held at Bahrain National Theatre to overview the details of the Festival, H.E. Shaikha Mai bint Mohamed Al Khalifa, Minister of Culture, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohamed Al Khalifa Center for Culture and Research, said: “This year’s festival comes at a time when Bahrainis are celebrating the Kingdom as the Capital of Arab Tourism, after having celebrated it last year as the Capital of Arab Culture. This shows that the successful stride of the Spring of Culture is closed correlated with Bahrain’s well-deserved national achievements and recognition, regionally and internationally, and reflects its high standing. Such significant achievements and contribution of the Festival demonstrate the good results of the partnership made possible by various efforts of the private and public sectors. This partnership among the citizens of Bahrain have placed it in the forefront in realizing more accomplishments and in realizing its aspirations. The different segments of the public, citizens, residents and visitors of the Kingdom, enjoy a remarkable variety of Spring of Culture programs especially designed to cater to their tastes”. The Director of the United Nations Information Center for the Gulf, Mr. Najib Friji spoke about the Cultural bridges between civilizations reflected in the Spring of Culture events in Bahrain. On EDB’s support of the Festival, H.E. Kamal bin Ahmed, Minister of Transportation, Acting Chief Executive of the Economic Development Board said: “EDB continues its support of this outstanding stride forward of the Spring of Culture Festival, now in its 8th year with great success. This Festival enriches Bahrain with culture, art and tourism, caters to all tastes, attracts various segments, introduces the open and diverse modern image of Bahrain, helps young Bahraini talent find their way to professionalism, and represents Bahrain internationally. This support reflects a bright image of the remarkable partnership between the EDB and Ministry of Culture towards creating a profitable tourism sector that benefits the economy and creates more jobs for Bahrainis.” Fans of music and song will enjoy the richly filled program of this year’s Spring of Culture Festival, with the participation of renowned art giants, from around the world as well as from the region. Charles Aznavour, the French singer, with his 800 songs, echoed by famous performers including Andrea Bocelli, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello and Sting, will sing to his Bahraini and regional fans at Arad Fort. For jazz fans, Nominated Grammy award winner, Philadelphia singer and songwriter Melody Gardot is bringing her blend of jazz infused music to Arad. Arad Fort will also host an exceptional romantic evening with Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir, who has sold over 100 million albums worldwide, and who was dubbed by the late poet Nezar Qabbani as “Caesar of Arabic Song”. The British “Il Divo” band will perform a selection of their best songs at Bahrain National Theatre, in addition to an evening with world renowned Greek musician Yanni, who will play to his audience some of his best music. Classical music lovers will enjoy an exceptional evening with a unique selection of best international music played by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra at the National Theatre. Audience will enjoy this special type of orchestral music Mahler Chamber Orchestra excelled in since its formation in 1997. Poetry fans will enjoy an evening with Egyptian poet and critic Ahmed Abdul Muti Hijazi one of the pioneers of the renewal movement in contemporary Arabic poetry, who will recite a selection of his poems to his audience at Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohamed Al Khalifa Center for Culture and Research. During this year’s Festival, a joint artistic and poetry project will be launched under the title “Letters to Ishtar”, a dialogue between poetry and painting, by seven poets, namely Adonis, Qassim Haddad, Mohammed Bennis, Saadi Yousif, Abdulmunim Ramadhan, Bernard Noël, Michel Butor and artist Himat Mohammed Ali, at Al Riwaq Art Gallery. This year’s festival will present to the fans of intellectual and political events an abundance of seminars and lectures, including a lecture titled “The Changes of Arab Cinema and Television” by the cultural history researcher, journalist, film critic and translator Ibrahim Al Arees, hosted at Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohamed Al Khalifa Center for Culture and Research. Media expert Béshara El Bon, will summarize his log experience of over three decades in a lecture titled “The Experience of an Arab Journalist in Foreign Media Organizations”, to be hosted at Al Zayed House. In addition, prominent writer Tim Mackintosh-Smith will speak on his experience in travel literature in a lecture titled “How to Travel Well – A Masterclass on Travel Writing”, at La Fontaine Centre. Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohamed Al Khalifa Center for Culture and Research will also host a lecture in English titled “The Clashes of Ignorance in the Mediterranean, The Price to Pay and Lessons for Tomorrow” by political scientist André Azoulay, who is at present King Mohammed VI’s Special Advisor, and Chairman of the Committee of Wise Men for the Alliance of Civilizations at the United Nations. This year’s Festival will also see a number of art galleries, including the BAB Market Festival at Bab Al Bahrain, which will witness a number of cultural and artistic events and open workshops starting 28th February as part of the Ministry of Culture’s celebration of Manama as the Capital of Arab Tourism 2013. ABCAD and Albareh will organize two contemporary art galleries and a design gallery with the participation of 20 artists from Bahrain. Bin Mattar House will host an exhibition by Luci-award winning photographer Ghada Khunji, who returns from her base in New York to her homeland Bahrain to reveal with her photographs the true spirit of Bahrain. Bin Mattar House will also be the venue of an exhibition titled “Imagine... Fictional Architecture and the Liberation of Ideas”, which will shed light on new trends in architectural drawing through a number of works by some of the leading architecture schools in Europe. Dance show lovers will enjoy an enchanting Cuban evening with “List Alfonso” at the Cultural Hall in a fictional drama performance titled “Amigas”, while Ballet Revolución, after its acclaimed premiere tour throughout Australia, UK and Europe finally is coming to Manama, the Capital of Arab Tourism. The international sensation will present a dynamic and powerful street dance performance mixing ballet with contemporary hip-hop dance, promising audiences with two fired up evenings echoing the classical Cuban, Latin American and hip hop music at Arad Fort. Families and children should enjoy fun-filled events with Erth’s Dinosaur Petting Zoo, which will ignite the scientific imagination of the young audience, to be held beside Bahrain Fort Museum. This in addition to “Farfalle”, the show especially imported from Italy featuring a unique visual theatre technology, taking the audience on an interactive journey through the life cycle of a butterfly, at Salman Cultural Centre. Firas Al-Attas “Sneezing Firas” show and Khayal Art and Education Society, hosted at the Cultural Hall, will provide youngsters with a fun-filled experience with puppetry, shadow theatre and video. Paperbelle, a theatrical performance from Scotland, will be held at the Art Centre, carrying children through the magic and beauty of the world of colors. Those who want to learn and develop new artistic and creative skills will have the opportunity with the educational workshops as part of the Festival’s rich education program, to be delivered by some of the groups participating in the Festival, namely Erth’s Dinosaur Petting Zoo, Photographer Ghada Khunji, Paperbelle, and Ballet Revolución. Those interested in participating in the educational workshop are required to book in advance. Seats are limited. As part of the talent program, the Spring of Culture will continue to invest in young Bahraini talent this year, for the fourth consecutive year, by providing specialized workshops by international experts to a select group of Bahraini talents. An Arabic calligraphy workshop will be provided by Jordanian calligraphist Hussein Al-Azaat, in collaboration with Albareh Art Gallery. Also, a music (Oud) workshop will be provided by famous Turkish musician Yurdal Tokcan, in association with Bahrain Music Institute. The community outreach programme this year is one of the richest programmes ever provided by the Spring of Culture Festival since its inception. This year’s programme includes workshops in photography and theatre in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, where 60 students and teachers from public schools will attend two workshops, the first conducted by Egyptian expert Mohamed El Ghawy, and the second in photography delivered by Bahraini international photographer Ghada Khunji. 1200 primary public school students are also invited to take part in the interactive Erth’s Dinosaur Petting Zoo show. In addition, children from Al Sanabil Orphan Care Society and Batelco Childcare, as well as children from other welfare societies are invited to attend Paperbelle’s two dimensional realistic paper characters, and to watch the Sneezing Firas Show. Italian TPO will also give an exclusive performance for the children of these societies. Spring of Culture continues to be nature friendly by printing on environmentally friendly paper and producing a smaller number of promotional materials, relying on alternative publishing media, such as the Internet. The Festival’s website www.springofculture.org will serve as the main source of updated and detailed information on all events. The Festival is organized by the Ministry of Culture, in association with Economic Development Board, Bahrain National Theatre, Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohamed Al Khalifa Center for Culture and Research, Albareh Art Gallery, Al Riwaq Art Space, and La Fontaine Centre. Tickets are sold at Virgin Megastore and through Virgin’s website www.virginmegastore.me. For further information on tickets and events, please call the Festival’s hotline 39900630.