Deserts, the Dead Sea, and Petra — these are what comes to mind when thoughts turn to Jordan. Beyond its rich historical heritage and traditional culture, however, lies a contemporary, thriving arts scene, which seeks to express the concerns and issues of the new generation. Jordan’s music is a particularly fascinating insight into this complex country, marrying contemporary sociopolitical problems with classic sounds to create a unique platform of expression.
Every two years the Balad, Amman‘s traditional downtown area, throbs to the sound of rock, jazz and rap. This is the Al Balad Music Festival, a cultural event unique to Jordan, which seeks to contribute to the country’s music scene by showcasing artists from all across the area, promoting a cultural interchange between various Arab countries, while simultaneously supporting and promoting local talent. The festival is set in perhaps one of the most atmospheric locations possible – an old, authentic Roman ampitheatre kitted out with lights and sound systems, creating an incredible fusion of colour, noise and energy.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Monumental as it is, the Al Balad Music Festival is only a small part of what is a thriving musical culture within Jordan. As well as such large scale music festivals as the Al Balad festival and that held at Jerash every summer, numerous small gigs, DJ sets and “battle of the bands” are held throughout the year in Amman and elsewhere, attracting thousands of passionate, dedicated fans sporting merch and screaming for their favourite artists, a concept which many would not associate with Jordan’s often traditional image. Yet the Al Balad Music Festival, and with it Jordan’s entire music scene, represents a side of Jordan that is not so well known in Western media and its perceptions of the Middle East; a side of young, trendy, alternative artists and fans filled with excitement, defiance and optimism.
To no one’s surprise, some of the most popular music listened to by Jordan’s youth is home grown, bands which inspire local as well as musical pride. Perhaps the most well known today is the alternative rock group known as El Morabba3, whose gigs and concerts create the type of crazed, vibrant atmosphere usually reserved for artists such as Coldplay and The Killers. Formed in 2009, the band is characterised by their extraordinarily modern sound, with electric guitars, synths and pounding rhythms, all intertwined with powerful Arabic lyrics and the occasional beat of a tabla, rooting the music in the band’s origins and creating a decidedly contemporary Arab sound, reminiscent of a Jordanian Muse. Their lyrics are as unique as their sound, focusing on the social and political issues which affect the region, which the band translates into an emotional, edgy form of poetry.
Another outstanding example of Jordan’s local talent is Zaed Naes, a small three-member band who aim for an entirely experimental approach to music. Using synth, electric sounds and dreamy vocals, Zaed Naes layer rhythms and beats to create something completely unexpected, challenging the audience’s perception of what music is and how it should be expressed. Their shows are often accompanied by visual projections, thereby associating the musical with the visual, and creating a unique platform of intersecting art.
Of course, it is not only Jordanian bands which have gained immense popularity within the country. Thanks to initiatives such as the Al Balad Music Festival, numerous global bands are finding a place within Jordan’s music scene. One such band is Tarabband, a vibrant fusion of Arab and world music, with band members hailing from Iraq, Egypt and Sweden. The group is led by the passionate and compelling lead singer Nadin, an Iraqi-Egyptian who fled from Iraq and resettled in Sweden. The band’s music narrates her journey of exile and survival, with lyrics revolving around themes of love, identity and conflict, and striving always for peace and harmony. Using the region’s tumultuous background as inspiration, Tarabband creates music which merges political and social issues with beautiful, traditional sounds and passionate performance.
Jordan’s contemporary musical scene may be relatively new, and it is constantly competing with established Western music which is often perceived as much more modern and cool. Yet what is created and performed within Jordan itself is on the cutting edge of musical production, incorporating years of traditional arts with new, unique sounds and an impressive sociopolitical awareness to create something which represents the country and the region perfectly – a diverse and rich culture which refuses to be silenced. Together, these bands and the festivals which showcase them continue to defy Western expectations about Middle Eastern culture and society.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.