Impressions of the Bet Lahem Live Festival 2016 by Nicola Kuhle Bethlehem - I learned about this city is so far away at a very young age. The city in the center of the Christmas story that I listened to in front of the christmas tree, with the lights of the candles reflecting in me eyes, excited to open the nicely wrapped presents and the smell of christmas roast in my nose. That was what I always associated Bethlehem with - coziness and blissfulness. Now many years later, I got to know a different Bethlehem. The Bethlehem where around fifty thousand Palestinians live today. Surrounded by walls, checkpoints and illegal Israeli settlements. And although it is all there, the Church of Nativity, the field where the shepherds received the message of the birth of the messiah, the atmosphere is characterized by hopelessness and despair, not coziness and blissfulness. People try to manage their life in very difficult economic situations. Water is limited and expensive, twentysix percent of the population is unemployed and the political situation scares tourist off to visit. Star Street, the street where Mary and Joseph supposedly walked into Bethlehem over two thousand years ago is lined with small shops and restaurants. Almost all of them are closed. So that this ancient world heritage site is completely empty. This picture radically was turned around over the last four days: The same street was filled with thousands of people, with the sound of music and laughter, with various delicious smells of food and small tables overloaded with jewellery, embroidered cloths, woodcraft and much more. The reason for this was the annual Bet Lahem Live Festival organized by the Holy Land Trust. “Yalla Makloobeh” was the motto of this year. Let’s turn everything upside down. Let us shake off all worries and let us celebrate. Celebrate this street and celebrate cultures. In theses days you could experience the whole world in Palestine: From local music and dabka to japanese traditional shiatsu, sushi and tea ceremonies to german brass bands and austrian movies. All this among many bands and artists from Europe, America and Canada. You even had the chance to watch the international known musician Marcus Mumfort and his bandmate Winston Marshall (Mumfort & Sons) perform as a DJ set at Saturday night. Besides culture, the festival also engaged in faith and justice. Throughout the day you were invited to participate in various workshops and learn about the political situation and different projects in Palestine, hear unheard voices from the Syrian society, learn about the methodology of Non-Linear Thinking, and listen to the story of ancient faith communities. In these four days the festival awakened the old city of Bethlehem and made us celebrate, marvel and learn. And that is what will hopefully be repeated in the first August weekend next year for the fifth time. So join us and get to know a different Bethlehem. And I hope to be there… Nicola Kuhle is from Germany and volunteering with Holy Land Trust during her gap year.