After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the annual Halifax Lebanese Festival returns to the Olympic Community Centre this Friday through Sunday, Sep 16-18. This edition of the fest isn't quite back to normal—watch for the full four-day version with live music and entertainment in July 2023, with any luck—but Joanne Lawen Mrakic, the festival’s head of marketing, is still promising the “legendary Lebanese hospitality” that Haligonians know and love.
For people practicing strict COVID precautions, the festival is offering a new Grab & Go feature that allows guests to order online for pickup. Or you can order on the spot and enjoy your meal on site to celebrate the city's Lebanese culture and community in person.
“It’s a shortened menu, but it’s really fabulous,” says Mrakic. “We don’t have the music, but the food is just as good."
There will be vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options for everyone to enjoy. Mrakic recommends the za’atar—a “zesty” blend of herbs and spices spread on a freshly baked flatbread.
Even though this year’s festival is advertised as Grab & Go, Mrakic says there will be tables set up at the Olympic Centre and people are encouraged to stay and eat together. Mrakic says Lebanese culture is all about gathering and sharing food, and the Lebanese community in Halifax has been eager to do that again.
“We really miss actually sharing with the rest of our community,” she says. “So I think it's really exciting and really special that we can actually do that.”