Cirque Dreams, Dora the Explorer, Freej Live and more reasons to check out the summer celebration
Time Out Bahrain staff
One of the island’s most important annual events is in full swing this month, breathing new life into a usually quiet mid-summer in Bahrain. There are plenty of reasons to be excited about the Bahrain Summer Festival this year so just check out our handy guide to find out why...
In brief The sixth annual Bahrain Summer Festival, which is organised each year by Bahrain’s Ministry of Culture, started on July 31 and is running until August 30. The theme is ‘Summer of Colours’ and the festival will see a range of well-known international entertainers and artists dropping in to perform concerts and showcase exhibitions for kids and adults alike. An entire programme of other activities aimed at kids is also running alongside it throughout the month at the dedicated Nakhool City. All the action takes place at the conveniently located Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre in Sanabis. Visit www.bahrainsummer.bh for more information. Tickets cost between BD2 and BD10. Book tickets via the website and buy through Virgin Megastore.
The lowdown It was six long years ago when the first ever Bahrain Summer Festival kicked off, before even Time Out Bahrain existed. Year after year, the Ministry of Culture have rolled out new initiatives, activities and programmes, growing bigger each time, and now it’s one of the summer’s most anticipated events. It offers an intellectually stimulating and entertaining respite that many residents look forward to in an otherwise quiet season.
This year, the festival’s theme is ‘Summer of Colours’ and it falls under the banner of the Ministry’s ‘Year of the Arts’ and ‘Manama: Capital of Asian Tourism’, both with their own year-long schedules of events and activities across the country. This season, just as with previous years, the festival brings in a range of entertaining shows that demonstrate phenomenal talent through a wide array of disciplines from art to drama, dance to literature. Ultimately, the programme aims to facilitate cultural exchange and foster better understanding between nations.
The Minister of Culture, HE Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, comments ‘Through [the Bahrain Summer Festival], we are engaging with the world through culture in all its forms and sowing the seeds of joy in everyone it touches… [It] seeks to make beauty our enduring language with which other nations identify and associate us.’
The main highlights Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy
When it debuted on Broadway in 2008, Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, created and directed by Neil Goldberg, was groundbreaking and has since seen great success with over 2,000 performances in more than 170 cities in North America and 3.5 million attendees. Described by New York Magazine as ‘The grandest circus spectacle east of Vegas’, this theatrical, acrobatic and musical performance is inspired by nature and brings the jungle to life through an international cast of aerialists, contortionists, acrobats, jugglers and musicians in fantastical costumes. The minimum age to attend is three. August 1 (7pm) and August 2 (11am and 7pm)
Dora the Explorer
This American animation series first aired in 2000 with the aim of being an educational yet fun watch for kids. Since then, Dora the Explorer has become a worldwide success with eight seasons under the creators’ belt. Now they’re coming to Bahrain to showcase Dora’s Pirate Adventure, a family musical performance and interactive journey through Treasure Island. The kids can help her solve puzzles and navigate her pursuit of the ‘Pirate Kitties’, and the ultimate treasure, while avoiding the baddies. Minimum age to attend this event is two years old. August 7 and 10 (5pm-7pm), August 8 and 9 (10am-noon, 5pm-7pm)
While living in the UK many years ago, Iraqi artist Ilham Al-Madfai was known as the ‘Baghdad Beatle’ due to his high-pitched imitation of Paul McCartney. This was around the time he’d formed The Twisters, one of Iraq’s first bands to use modern instruments, and was playing covers of tunes by Western groups. Since then, he has become an internationally-acclaimed award-winning musician for his eclectic signature blend of Western rhythms and Eastern folk songs. This year, he’s treating us to two not-to-be-missed live performances. Entrance is free but seating is limited so you’re advised to arrive as early as possible. Minimum age to attend is eight. August 13 and 14 (8pm to 10pm)
Blaze the Show
The high-octane, fast and furious international street dance sensation Blaze has taken the world by storm since it first premiered and now the show is heading to our shores. Directed by Anthony van Laast (Mamma Mia!, Sister Act, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat), and choreographed by some of the best talents on today’s street dance scene, this groundbreaking show mixes nightclub vibes with West End production values. The cast of 16 internationally renowned dancers will pop, lock and break dance their way into your imaginations to a soundtrack of tunes from the likes of Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Snoop Dogg, David Guetta and others. The minimum age to attend this show is six years old. August 16 (7pm to 9pm) and August 17 (7pm to 9pm)
Read our interview with the director of Blaze the Show here. He choreographed for Sister Act and Mamma Mia! too!
The all-new UAE-produced show, Abood’s Dream, is a humorous tale featuring the antics of protagonist Abood who ends up going on a fantasy adventure along with his grandmother’s pet canary (which lives in a fish bowl, naturally). He’s joined by the grandmothers from the other beloved animated show Freej and kids follow him as he meets new friends and learns valuable lessons on his journey. It’s a traditional family theatre experience with a local cultural twist. The show is in Arabic and minimum age to attend is three. August 21 to 24 (7pm to 9pm) Chico and the Gypsies
Moroccan-Algerian musician Jahloul ‘Chico’ Bouchiki, co-founder of the legendary band The Gipsy Kings, is stopping by Bahrain to introduce us to his latest project through a live performance. This new band – made up of Frenchmen – carries on the traditions of The Kings’ flamboyant flamenco, rumba-infused melodies and Latin pop and rock, while encouraging understanding of the different cultures and nations. The minimum age to attend this performance is eight. August 26 (8pm to 10pm)
Open daily until August 30 from 10am to 4pm Nakhool and Nakhoola are this year’s mascots and the adventurous duo welcomes families and friends to their base at Nakhool City. A full slate of activities, shows, educational activities and other interactive attractions, including workshops with globally renowned talents, are taking place all month with a focus on entertainment, learning and development. For example, photography workshops are running alongside a session on how to make art out of junk. Kids can learn the art of watercolour or mixed media on paper, while others discover how to make soap or get crafty in a lesson on T-shirt stenciling. There’s all this and plenty more to discover at Nakhool City (also based at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre) this month. Visit www.bahrainsummer.bh/events_category/nakhool-city for a full schedule of events