The sounds of laughing, ancient songs and traditional instruments, the marching feet of the bagpipers, and the stomping feet of the dabke dancers permeate the streets and alleyways of Birzeit’s Old City for five days every summer. The sights of Palestinian embroideries, glass-making, and ceramics, together with the aromas of fresh-baked “mana’esh” and apples from the Golan complete the sensory explosion that is the Birzeit Heritage Week. The wonders of Palestinian heritage and history are revisited while a trip to the Saadeh Science House connects visitors to the future.
The Heritage Week Festival in Birzeit is unique among festivals in the breadth and diversity of the exhibits, productions, articles for sale, and activities. It is unique in its attempt to weave the fabric of the historic area of Birzeit into a mosaic of activities and events converting it to what might become a bustling tourism and cultural heritage center. There will be cinema, street performances, theater for adults and for children, and dancing and music – much, much music, from jazz to traditional Palestinian folk songs. There will be soloists and big bands, groups from inside and outside the Green line, with songs that may be witty, patriotic, cynical, or hopeful. Art, some from prisoners, will be everywhere – hanging in courtyards and attics, depicting the obstacles of today’s life under Occupation. Other countries join in Birzeit’s festivities at the “International Souq”.