Posted on March 06, 2016

The third annual Great British Festival has been officially opened by the United Kingdom’s Ambassador to Qatar, His Excellency Mr Ajay Sharma, alongside HE Mr Darwish Ahmed, Marketing and International Affairs Director from Katara Cultural Village, the Qatari cultural partner for the festival. The fortnight of celebrations will showcase the best of British culture, education, tourism and business.

The festival runs from March 6 to March 19 and is organised by the British Embassy, in partnership with the British Council. This year it features everything from traditional British spring fêtes to a football tournament, activities in hotels and a range of events marking the 400th anniversary of the death of playwright William Shakespeare. The Ambassador said: “I am proud to launch the Great British Festival Qatar 2016, which promises to be the most enjoyable yet. The festival provides a fantastic platform for both countries to forge new partnerships in commerce, tourism, culture, education and science. I encourage residents in Qatar to get involved over the next fortnight and enjoy some of the superb activities on offer.”

Three events are planned to mark 400 years of Shakespeare. The Reduced Shakespeare Company will perform all his plays in just 97 minutes on March 11; the movie Much Ado About Nothing – arguably the best film adaption of Shakespeare – will be screened on March 15, and Qatar’s Philharmonic Orchestra will play a selection of famous music inspired by Shakespeare to close the festival on March 19. The full programme of events and ticket details can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/britfestqa/ or find out more about the festival on Twitter or Instagram by following the handle @britfestqa.

To highlight Shakespeare’s contribution to the arts, Qatar Airways is also offering one lucky festival attendee the opportunity to win two return flights on the new direct route to Birmingham to enjoy a Shakespeare Experience, with free accommodation included. Prospective students are invited to visit the annual “Study in the UK” exhibition from Sunday 13 – Monday 14 March at La Cigale Hotel. The exhibition will provide students with an unmissable chance to speak with representatives from over 30 of the UK’s most popular universities and colleges. You can register in advance to gain fast access to the event at http://qa.edukexhibition.org

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A number of British researchers from University College London in Qatar, in partnership with UNESCO, will be sharing recent archaeological investigations about the origins of Qatar and its historic towns at a “Cafe Scientifique” event organised on Thursday 17 March at the Museum of Islamic Art Park Café II. Frank Fitzpatrick, Director of the British Council Qatar, commented: “The British Council is delighted to once again support the Great British Festival, Qatar, now in its third year. I look forward to another programme that welcomes the strength of our relationship with Qatar while creating opportunities for further collaboration and the exchange of knowledge and ideas.”

The cultural partner of this year’s Great British Festival is Katara Cultural Village, while Qatar Shell, Ezdan Holding Group, Park House Community Initiative and Blue Rubicon are official sponsors. In partnership with the Qatar Football Association and Aspire Academy, the Great British Festival will organise this year’s edition of the Hadaf 5-a side schools’ football tournament, which will feature five independent and five British curriculum under-sixteen schools teams. The tournament will take place at Aspire Academy, indoor pitch, on 12 March.

Other events during the Great British Festival include two traditional British spring fêtes which will take place throughout the day on Saturday 12 March. One will take place at Park House English School in Abu Hamour, from 10am to 1pm, and the other will take place at Compass International School in Madinat Khalifa, from 9am to 12pm. The traditional fêtes will feature games, craft stalls, a bouncy castle, a bake sale and a barbecue, and cream tea will be served.

In addition to the fêtes, many of Doha’s favourite hotels will also be providing special menus inspired by the best of British cuisine, including afternoon teas, British brunches, roast dinners and more. The hotels participating across Doha will include the Grand Hyatt, Intercontinental Doha, Marriott Marquis, St Regis, Ritz Carlton and W Hotel.

Closing the festival on Saturday 19 March, Aleksandr Markovich will conduct the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra as they play a selection of famous music inspired by Shakespeare’s plays, including Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, and Richard Strauss’ Macbeth. The pianist Elisso Bolkvadze will also be starring, sponsored by the Georgian Embassy as part of Qatar-Georgia cultural cooperation. Tickets for the performance at the Qatar National Convention Centre can be booked here: http://qatarphilharmonicorchestra.org/concerts/purchase_tickets.

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