After photographing the festival for the first time last year, I returned this year to photograph Liverpool Arab Arts Festival 2017. And, yet again, it was an absolute blast.

This year, I photographed two days of the festival: Eid on the Square and the family finale day at the Palm House in Sefton Park.


Eid on the Square

Eid al-Fitr is the Islamic religious holiday celebrating of the end of Ramadan. Liverpool Arab Arts Festival 2017 kicked off on Eid with a day of music, dance and food at Lodge Lane in south Liverpool – Liverpool’s main Muslim quarter. There were traditional Arabic music bands, dance performances (including some of the most beautiful, colourful dresses I’ve seen in a long time), storytelling, stalls and food. Particularly popular were the food tours, hosted by Sarah Al-Hamad, an expert in Middle Eastern cuisine. She took visitors around some of the restaurants and food outlets in Lodge Lane. The lucky guests got to sample food from countries as far afield as Lebanon and Malaysia (and yes, I did join in … yum!).

A woman in a traditional Indian-style dress dancing. Behind her is a troupe of drummers.
Traditional dancers at Eid on the Square
Two dancers in front of a troupe of drummers
Traditional dancers at Eid on the Square
A crowd of people. Three men, one in traditional Arab clothes, are dancing and smiling.
Dancing at Eid on the Square
A traditional Arabic music group. Five seated men in front of a red-brick wall. Only the nearest man is in focus. He's singing into a microphone and playing an oud, a traditional Middle Eastern stringed instrument.
Oud player, Eid on the Square
Two men dancing. One is in traditional Middle Eastern costume.
Dancing at Eid on the Square
A woman holding a plate of Lebanese finger food.
Sarah al-Hamad on the food tour, Eid on the Square


Finale day at the Sefton Palm House

A week later, on the Sunday, was the festival’s ever-marvelous finale day at the beautiful Palm House in Sefton Park. Included in the lineup were the London Syrian Ensemble, storyteller extraordinaire Alia Alzougbi and headliners Alsarah and the Nubatones. It really was a day filled with dancing, eating, music, laughter and fun.

A group of men are dancing in the Palm House.
Dancing at the Palm House
A group of men and women in smart, black clothes with a man sitting on a chair talking to them.
The London Syrian Ensemble being interviewed by BBC Arabic at the Palm House
A woman in traditional Yemen costume dancing with a man. She's looking up at him, smiling.
Yemeni dancing at the Palm House
A man and woman in traditional Yemeni costume, dancing together.
Yemeni dancing at the Palm House
A teenage girl in traditional Arab dress holding a cone-shaped piece of ceramic ware.
Singer Reham Al-Hakimi at the Palm House
Alia is talking to a group of children. She's pointing and smiling.
Storyteller Alia Alzougbi at the Palm House
A group of men and teen boys dancing. People are laughing and smiling.
Dancing at the Palm House
The group are performing on stage. In front is a group of people dancing, laughing and smiling.
Alsarah and the Nubatones at the Palm House
Two women standing next to each other, singing. They're clapping their hands and smiling as they sing.
Singer Alsarah and her sister at the Palm House
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