Categories
Festivals & holidays Jerusalem Tel Aviv

Best December Festivals in Israel

There are two major holidays celebrated in December: the Jewish Chanukah and the Christian Christmas. So, before I tell you about the other festivals and events, let me tell you a few words about celebrating Chanukah and Christmas in Israel:

Celebrating Chanukah in Israel: Chanukah is celebrated for eight nights and days, this year during December 2-10. During the holiday, in major squares you might see huge menorahs being lighted using electric bulbs and smaller menorahs sitting on the windowsills of houses. On the smaller menorahs you’ll see candles with real fire. You’ll also be able to enjoy the delicious jelly doughnuts (“suf-ga-nee-ot”) that are sold in every bakery shop.

Celebrating Christmas in Israel: Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus, who was born in Bethlehem. This makes Israel a perfect place to celebrate the holiday! Come experience the prayers and the beautiful Christmas decorations. The best places to celebrate Christmas in Israel are Bethlehem (in the West Bank territory), Jerusalem, Nazareth, Haifa, and Tel Aviv. You can join Abraham Tour’s Christmas Tour in Bethlehem.

For more info, visit Holidays in Israel and How to Spend Them During Travel.

Jacob’s Ladder Festival –

One of the biggest musical events along the shore of the Sea of Galilee (Kineret). The festival will take place in the Nof Ginosar Hotel throughout the weekend. The program will include many types of music, including folk music, Jazz, Swing, Blues and World Music. Tickets are required to participate, so hurry before they’ll be sold out.

When? December 1-2, 2018.

Official site: Jacob’s Ladder Festival.

Looking for places to stay in the area? Check out the Tiberias Hostel or try to find good deals for hotels in Tiberias through hotelscombined.

Sounds of Music in the Desert Festival –

A wonderful festival, that brings to the Israeli desert some of the best Israeli musical artists. If you wish to experience Israeli music in the beautiful Israeli desert scene, this is the festival for you. Tickets are required to participate. Sadly, I couldn’t find a website in English, but you can try talking with the festival’s organizers by calling +972-50-5545501. There is also an option of purchasing the tickets on site. The festival takes place in Kibbutz Sde Boker.

When? December 5-8, 2018.

Jerusalem Jazz Festival – Come enjoy three days full of jazz in Jerusalem. During the festival, you can enjoy intimate shows in the Israel Museum (tickets required) and free jam sessions in the Yellow Submarine (on Wednesday and Thursday from 11:30PM).

When? December 12-14, 2018.

Official site: Jerusalem Jazz Festival.

Looking for places to stay in the area? Try finding good deals for hotels in Jerusalem through hotelscombined.

Cheap Jerusalem Tours on Saturdays:

Every weekend, the Jerusalem Municipality organizes interesting tours of Jerusalem, that leave at 10:00 AM from the Safra Plaza (Kikar Safra) next to the City Hall. There are tours are in English, costing only 15 ILS each. It’s worth checking out.

For more info, visit their site: Free Saturday Tours.

Will keep you updated on more events when I know about them! If you know of anything, I will very much appreciate if you leave the details in the comments. Thanks!

Have a wonderful weekend and Shabbat Shalom (:


This post has been updated for December 2018.

If you liked this post or found it useful, I’ll be glad to get a like, share or comment from you (:

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And check out my new app – Travel Israel for Android and iOS

Yours,

Lior

Categories
Galilee

Five Things that Make Tzfat Special

Tzfat is a beautiful town, nestled high up in the mountains of the Upper Galilee. Last week, I decided to take my Grandma on a three-days trip to Tzfat, to breathe some great air and enjoy the calm surroundings. The way to Tzfat, in the Nativ Express bus, was so very beautiful: green surroundings, mountains and the Sea of Galilee in the distance. The hotel in Tzfat was also very beautiful. It’s called “Ruth Rimonim Hotel” and it’s a high-class hotel, built on the location of an old wayside inn, “Khan” in Arabic, right at the entrance of the Old City of Tzfat. I wanted the best for Grandma.

So… the Old City of Tzfat is beautiful, but it’s also very special. I’ve never been in such a city before. Here are five things that I believe make Tzfat special:

1 –  It’s Filled with Music – No matter where we went, we could hear someone playing a musical instrument. A piano, a flute, a guitar… The music made its way out from many windows. On our first night in Tzfat, the hotel organized a public sing-along, with a very talented and joyful guitar player. We sang along some really nice Hebrew songs. On our second night in Tzfat, we went on an evening guided tour of the Old City of Tzfat, with a guide who has been living in Tzfat from his very beginning. We got to a large plaza, where he said that the “Klezmer Festival” (“Musical Instruments Festival) takes place every year. “In Tzfat we say that if you haven’t been to the Klezmer Festival, you’ve never been to a real festival in your life,” our guide said with a smile. Too bad we missed it by a few days… The festival usually takes place during the end of August.

2 – It’s Filled with Art – The alleys of the Old City of Tzfat are covered art galleries. The galleries close early, so don’t expect to find a lot of galleries open after 18:00 in the evening. We also saw some galleries that seemed abandoned, which is a pity. If you like art, you will find plenty of it in Tzfat: paintings, sculptures, jewelry items…  And it’s no wonder. Tzfat is the perfect place for artists. It’s quiet, it’s calm and it’s beautiful. I too am sort of an artist, and every couple of steps I stopped and told my Grandma: “Too bad I didn’t take my drawing pad with me to Tzfat.” If I’ll ever want to write a book, I think I’ll move there, to the Old city of Tzfat. For some inspiration.

 

3- It’s Very Steep – Before coming to Tzfat, I heard it is steep, but never imagined it was so very steep. I think I’ve never been to a city so steep in Israel. Haifa is steep, but not like this. The Old City is filled with stairs and steep routes. That was the only thing that bothered us on our trip to Tzfat. Grandma isn’t a big fan of stairs. But we managed, one stair at a time.

One of the alleys in Tzfat, not very steep. There are much more steep places!

4 – It’s Very Jewish – It turns out that Tzfat is a very Jewish city. On our way into Tzfat, in the bus, we looked out of the window and saw a lot of very religious Jewish people walking along the streets. We barely saw non-religious people. And how do I know they were very religious without even talking to them? You can tell by their clothes. Very religious Jewish people dress in black and white, long sleeved clothes, and the men usually wear black hats and have a great beard and long side curls. Then, when we strolled through the Old City, we also met some very religious Jews. Many of the salespeople in the galleries were also close to the Jewish religion. They talked about good spirits and about God, and some sold jewelry items connected to the Kabbala. Even in Jerusalem I don’t feel so surrounded by Judaism. But it was nice, I have to admit.

5 – It has a Small Number of Tourists – Well, after three days in Tzfat I was enchanted. Such a beautiful and special town… The only thing I didn’t understand is – why weren’t there a lot of tourists in Tzfat? We strolled through the Old City and barely saw tourists. The alleys were empty. The stores were empty. Maybe it was because we visited in September? Maybe people don’t like visiting in September… When we asked one of the saleswomen why the galleries aren’t open after 18:00, she replied that the salespeople have life and that they won’t keep the galleries open if there’s no demand to open them, “And as you can see, there aren’t a lot of visitors in Tzfat.”

So if you’re coming to Israel, I recommend you pay a short visit to Tzfat. Even if you aren’t Jewish, come and enjoy the quiet, the calmness, the good air, the art, the music, the people of Tzfat… I don’t think you’ll regret it.


*Tzfat may also be written as “Safed”, but I like “Tzfat” better.

* Looking for a hostel in Tzfat? Check out Safed Inn, located a 3 minutes’ drive from Safed.

* Also check out my website www.backpackisrael.com for more info about Israel.

Categories
Festivals & holidays Jerusalem

Best June Festivals in Israel

Planning on visiting Israel in June? It’s almost summertime! You might want to know about some of the best festivals going on in June in Israel. Here are three of the best festivals taking place in June:

Israel Festival

One of the most important cultural festivals in Jerusalem, founded in 1961. Enjoy many musical, dance and theatrical shows, performed by artists from Israel and abroad. You need to purchase tickets beforehand, through the festival’s website – http://israel-festival.org/prices-and-specials/?lang=en.

The festival is not free of charge. 

Where? All around Jerusalem.

When? 26th of May until 11th of June.

Looking for a hotel in Jerusalem? Find yout hotel here.

Just Be Naked – Pashut Festival

If you’re interested in a truly special experience, we urge you to book a place in this unique festival, taking place in the Israeli desert. Pull off your clothes and feel truly free of masks. Take part in interesting lectures, workshops and parties. You do not have to be nude if you do not want to.

The festival is not free of charge. 

Where? In “Desert Ashram”.

When? 9-12 of June.

For more info, visit the official website of Pashut Festival.

Sunbeat Festival

One of the best global beat festivals in Israel. Enjoy plenty of live shows, parties and DJ music with local and international artists! You can sleep in a tent in the park during the festival.

The festival is not free of charge. 

Where? Nature Reserve Jordan Park in the northeastern Sea of Galilee.

When? 12-13 of June.

For more info, visit the offical website of Sunbeat Festival.