London: Bethlehem Unwrapped - A twelve days of Christmas festival

The world-renowned violinist Nigel Kennedy is one of the performers taking part in a twelve day festival of music, art, poetry, film, comedy, food and dance at St James Church, Piccadilly. The festival opens on Monday 23 December with the unveiling of the 'Bethlehem Feast' a major art installation, created and hosted by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, with lighting design by Willie Williams (who has worked with names including The Rolling Stone, U2, Lady Gaga and Complicite) and the screening of a specially-commissioned film to play on the installation created by Damien Hale, Luke Halls and Sam Pattinson of the Treatment Studio.

Bethlehem Unwrapped will capture the spirit of Christmas with a rich and eclectic programme created as a response to the Kairos Palestine document issued by the united Churches of the Holy Land.

Highlights of the Festival include: the internationally renowned violinist Nigel Kennedy performing his latest composition The Bridge in an evening of music which includes singers from the Tallis Scholars and the celebrated Palestinian singer Reem Kelani; a sumptuous Bethlehem inspired fund-raising supper hosted and created by hugely inventive and renowned Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi and his partner Sami Tamimi.

There will be a comedy evening Stand Up Against the Wall with Dave Cohen, Ivor Dembina, Mark Steel and Andy Zaltzman. Palestinian film maker Leila Sansour will introduce a screening of her film Jeremy Hardy v The Israeli Army. There will be panel discussions on culture, politics and society with distinguished writers and cultural commentators including Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Jeff Halper and All They Paint is the Wall, an exhibition of children’s art from Bethlehem.

Artistic Director Justin Butcher said: “I visited Bethlehem for the first time last year and came away profoundly inspired by the extraordinary peacemakers I met on both sides of the divide, in particular Sami Awad of the Holy Land Trust. 

"In Bethlehem, a new cultural phenomenon is springing up, which Palestinians describe as ‘Beautiful Resistance’ – in art, music, dance and drama, street theatre and comedy – expressing their determination to resist injustice and to celebrate their hope for freedom in the seeming absence of all hope.  It’s my hope that the Bethlehem Unwrapped festival, with its amazing and eclectic line-up of artists and events, will give audiences here in the UK the chance to experience some of the amazing hope of the people of Bethlehem this Christmas.”

All net proceeds of Bethlehem Unwrapped will be donated to Future Peacemakers Appeal, Holy Land Trust, Bethlehem.

For more information see:"



Monday 23 December, 6pm– Unveiling of major art installation 

Sunday 29 December, 7.30pm – Slammed Up – an evening of slam poetry with 2012 

World Slam Champion Harry Baker, Zia Ahmed, Bridget Minamore and Dizraeli 

Monday 30 December, 7.30pm– Stand Up Against the Wall comedy evening with Mark Steel, Dave Cohen, Ivor Dembina and Andy Zaltzman 

Thursday 2 January 7.30pm – Film Screening of Jeremy Hardy vs the Israeli Army introduced by film maker and Bethlehem resident Leila Sansour 

Friday 3 January, 7.30pm – Bethlehem Feast with Ottolenghi – World-renowned chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi present a Bethlehem Christmas Supper.

Saturday 4 January 8pm – A debate: ‘Both sides of the Barrier: Separation or Security?’ (Speakers include Jeff Halper, founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions ([CAHD]) Sunday 5 January, 7.30pm – The Bridge performed by ground-breaking virtuoso violinist Nigel Kennedy and friends, with singers from the Tallis Scholars, directed by Peter Phillips, and the celebrated Palestinian singer Reem Kelani 

London W1J 9LL Tickets:



In December 2009, the leaders of the united churches of the Holy Land issued the historic “Kairos Palestine” document, modelled on the Kairos document sent out from the churches of South Africa during the apartheid era. “Kairos” is a New Testament Greek word meaning “The moment for change” or “the moment of grace” or “the time for action”. They describe the Kairos document as “A cry of hope in the absence of all hope” – calling out to Christian churches, as well as other faith communities, across the world: “Are you able to help us get our freedom back?” In response, the “Kairos Britain” call was launched in August 2013, by a group of individuals and organisations drawn from many Christian denominations in the UK, calling on their churches across the country to stand in solidarity with the churches of the Holy Land and to respond to their call.
An approved, abridged version of the 2009 Kairos document can be read at:


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