What’s on

Bethlehem Unwrapped brings together a rich and eclectic programme of culture. Tickets for all events are available HERE.

ART – December 23rd 6pm: ‘Unwrapped’ – Opening ceremony featuring unveiling of major art installation in St James’s Courtyard, broadcast message from Holy Land Trust director Sami Awad in Bethlehem, and opening of children’s art exhibition from Bethlehem, ‘All They Paint is the Wall’. Un-ticketed, free event


POETRY – December 29th 7.30pm: ‘Slammed Up’ – an evening of slam poetry in the key of freedom, with 2012 World Slam champion Harry Baker, Rafeef ZiadahZia Ahmed, Bridget Minamore & Dizraeli. More info here and to buy tickets click here.


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COMEDY – December 30th 7.30pm:  ‘Stand Up Against the Wall’ – comedy with BBC comedy star & Independent columnist Mark Steel, the renowned Jeremy Hardy, Hampstead Comedy Club host Ivor Dembina (****The Guardian), Andy Zaltzman (“Breathtakingly good” Time Out) & Dave Cohen (“Smart & very funny” Huffington Post UK)

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FILM – Jan 2nd 7.30pm: ‘Jeremy Hardy vs the Israeli Army’ – comedy doc following News Quiz veteran Jeremy Hardy on a hair-raising path through the Second Intifada. Palestinian film-maker and Bethlehem resident Leila Sansour will participate in a Q&A after the screening. (“Outstanding … riveting” **** Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian)

Yoyam Ottolenghi & Sammi Tamini

CUISINE – Jan 3rd 7.30pm: Bethlehem FeastYotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi present a Bethlehem Christmas dinner, raising funds for Holy Land Trust’s ‘Future Peacemakers’ appeal. A unique opportunity for a truly seasonal feast in the presence of the masters of Middle Eastern cuisine. Come prepared for after-dinner dancing, led by Palestinian dance troupe Al-Zaytouna! Presented by Zaytoun CIC and Rocket Food. 

PANEL – Jan 4th 8pm: ‘Both sides of the Barrier – Separation or Security?’ – speakers include Jeff Halper, founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), John Lyndon, director of One Voice EuropeLeila Sansour, Bethlehem resident, film-maker and founder of Open Bethlehem and Alan Johnson, Britain Israel Communications and Research CentreChaired by David Loyn, BBC foreign correspondent.

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MUSIC – Jan 5th 7.30pm: ‘The Bridge’ – concert with legendary violinist Nigel Kennedy and friends, performing his own composition The Bridge, with singers from the Tallis Scholars, directed by Peter Phillips, Catalan singer Clara Sanabras andHarvey Brough, actor Adjoa Andoh and guest speaker Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

For tickets to all events, click here

Whenever St James’s Church is open you are welcome to visit  the WALL installation and enjoy some of the Bethlehem Unwrapped festival work inside the church including:  

Planet Bethlehem audio archive 

Interspersed with periods of silence, a selection of hymns and liturgical chants of the Palestinian Melkite Church and the Latin Seminary of Bethlehem are playing. These were collected by Bethlehem film-maker Leila Sansour, during the making of her documentary feature ‘Planet Bethlehem’. The film, spanning ten years in the life of modern Bethlehem from 2004 to the present, celebrates the cultural heritage of Bethlehem, the Biblical ‘little town’ of the Christmas story as well as the beautiful 5,000 year old city which endures today.

Exhibition – ‘All They Draw is the Wall’

 Inside the church is an exhibition of children’s paintings from the Dar Al-Kalima School in Bethlehem, curated by British artist Meg Wroe, who led a workshop in 2012 at Dar Al-Kalima during her visit to the Holy Land.

‘We visited the Dar Al Kalima School in Bethlehem for an art workshop with the children. Their teacher said that after the age of ten, all they draw is the Wall.’

Mini-Film Programme

More short films; animation and photographs are showing on plasma screen inside the narthex of the church: Portrait of Bethlehem – Photographs old and new from Planet Bethlehem Archive/Leila Sansour; ‘Captain Honey’ – Diyar Media Productions  short film; Rafeef Ziadah’s ‘We teach life, sir’ spoken word poetry; Jewish Voices for Peace: Israel and Palestine – A Very Short Introduction animation.

In hosting this Festival which celebrates the people of Bethlehem, St James’s Church affirms its opposition to all forms of racism including anti-Semitism and supports the universal call for a just and sustainable solution for Palestinians and Israelis. St James’s Church supports the right of the State of Israel to exist with secure internationally recognised borders.