Festivals in Israel

Remark: First of all, I want to clarified, that the dates of the events had been change this year, because of the Corona. So, it's better to follow the sites of the Festivals, in order to validate the correct dates.

January 6 (around it) Epiphany in the Jordan River- In celebration of Eastern Orthodox Epiphany on January, thousands of Orthodox Christians from dozens of countries and traditions take part in a mass baptism at the Judean Desert’s Qaser al-Yahud baptismal site.

 Christian tradition believes that this is the site at which Jesus was baptized by his cousin John, as depicted in Matthew 3:13-17.

 Dozens of buses and flocks of international tourist groups are coming into the National Park on Friday (It's always on Friday). Usually, around 10,000 people take part in the celebration.

 Usually, the celebration is with music and singing all over from the groups, and the spiritual environment is exiting.

 Many tourists, including Israelis, are coming every year to see this Celebration. It worth it.

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February (all months' weekends) South-Red Festival- South- Red festival is something very unique in the world. We, the Israelis, are celebrating the blossom of the Anemones in the south area of the country.

nearly one hundred thousand people, are driving to the southern area of Israel, mainly to an area which called the Western Side of the Negev. During this festival (which is most active in the weekends of February), there are farms that open their gates to visitors, you can taste their boutique wine or beer, which they produce, taste the unique cheese they produce from their Cows, Goats, and Buffalo.

Artists open their studios, share their knowledge with the visitors, in some cases they are doing some paintings/sculptures with the visitors.

In other places there are field performance of bands, organized tours from local tour guides. Very nice experience for adults and kids.

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March, Purim- Purim it's a Jewish holiday. The story of this holiday described in the book of Esther in the Bible, begins with a six-month (180-day) drinking feast given by King Ahasuerus (around 500BC) for the army of Persia and Media and the satraps and princes of the 127 provinces of his kingdom, concluding with a seven-day drinking feast for the inhabitants of Shushan (Susa), rich and poor, and a separate drinking feast for the women organized by Queen Vashti in the pavilion of the royal courtyard. Vashti refuse to do what the drunken king order her, so he expel her from the palace. Next day, the king fell in love with a young beautiful Jewish woman named Esther.

The make the long story short, I'll summarize it that the king got an advice from his advisor (Haman was his name) to kill all the Jews in the Persian empire. The queen Esther persuade the king to let the Jews to defend them self. He allowed it, and the Jews attacked their enemies, killed tens of thousands of them, including the family of the king's advisor (Haman).

Today we celebrate this event by Illustration the drinking feast, wearing costumes, and parades of people with costumes, escort by bands, all over the country- stunning!!

Example of one of the parades, in one of the cities, you can see in the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lpms4wBRKFg

April- In April we have two BIG celebrations:

1. Passover- Passover it's a holiday which last seven days. We started these celebrations with Passover dinner which 99% of the Jewish families in Israel are gathering to have this dinner (we call it in Hebrew SEDER).

During the next seven days (after SEDER) there are a lot of attractions all over the country, starting in the Nature reserves (Actors performance in the middle of the nowhere...) bands performance in the streets and Malls, Reconstruction of knight battles of the Middle Ages in Caesarea, Akko, and some of the ruins of the Crusaders fortresses, and mainly a lot of people in Israel are in vacation, so it's pretty crowded.

We are celebrating Passover according to the Jewish calendar. In some cases, Easter occurs in the same parallel dates. If so, then the amount of the celebration is increasing, and you can find a special Mass at the churches in Nazareth Haifa and of course the Palm Sunday procession in Jerusalem.

You can see the Palm Sunday Procession in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem 2019 in the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yMnJID7l6Y

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2. Independence Day- Since we are celebrating our Independence Day according to the Jewish calendar, in some of the years it occurs in April and other years at May (It's better to see in the internet when it occurs at a specific year).
But, a day before the Independence Day, it's the Memorial Day for the victims of Wars and Terror (to remind us the horrible price that we paid, and still paying, for our freedom). During the Memorial days, all the entertainments sites are closed (the restaurants are closed in the evening). The Jews are counting the days from evening to evening (for example: Saturday start on Friday Eve, after sunset). The Memorial Day is starting at the evening, last for 24 hours with a lot of ceremonies in the Militaries cemeteries (about one Million people are participate in these ceremonies).
At sunset (the end of the Memorial Day), Fireworks all over in the country, announce that the Memorial Day is over. immediately after that, performances of bands are starting, on stages in the center of all the cities (free of charge), from 9PM to 2AM.
The next day everyone on Vacation (except the entertainment people...). All the museums are open free of charge. In the historical sites there are tour guides that guiding free of charge. on the coast you can see the navy and military airplanes showing their abilities, nice. You can see a sample of this military show in the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=az2LAcvcrLo

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May, Abu Gosh Vocal Music Festival - Abu Gosh Vocal Music Festival is happening twice a year, on May and October.

Performances take place in the 12th century Crusader-Benedictine Church, situated in the heart of the village and on the hilltop in the Kiryat Ye’arim Church.

The festival offers a unique and multi-sensory experience inside the magical churches of the picturesque village surrounded by the beautiful views of Abu-Gosh and the Jerusalem Mountains.

Every year, the festival is hosting of international choirs and vocal ensembles that performing classic and timeless works from all around the world.

Bands and choirs of Jews and Christians, Israelis and Non Israelis are singing together in the church- Marvelous.

Example of one of the performance you can see in the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yovY4c10z4I

Link to the Abu Gosh Vocal Music Festival is: http://www.agfestival.co.il/en/home-en/

May or June (Depends in the Jewish Holidays at the specific year), Israel Festival Jerusalem - Israel Festival Jerusalem, is the main and biggest artists and actors' festival in Israel.

It started in 1961, and since then, it happens every year (May or June). It last for several days in Jerusalem, with several performances in a day. The shows are performed by the best of the best singers and actors in Israel, and by the first class artists in the world (singers, dancers, actors, musicians, bands, and juggler).

In the past artists as Isaac Stern, Pablo Casals, Arthur Rubinstein, Merce Cunningham's Dance Company and more had been performed in this festival....

Example of one of the performance you can see in the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AnRCnJXsbI

Link to the Israel Festival in Jerusalem is: https://www.israel-festival.org/en/

June, Jerusalem Festival of Light- The Jerusalem Festival of Lights is taking place in the Old City area of Jerusalem, every year, and over 950,000 visitors, are coming from Israel and all over the world, in order to view the artwork at the festival, in the alleys, and, around the squares of the Old City.

The festival is starting at sunset, for the whole week- all week long (except Friday).

All the events in the festival are free of charge and are been performed beneath the open sky. It's really something unique, incredible and awesome.

Example of one of the performance you can see in the link: https://youtu.be/s8HEnrLPAhM

Link to the Jerusalem Festival of Light is: https://www.lightinjerusalem.com/the-festival

End of June, White Night in Tel Aviv- Tel Aviv is known as the Non Stop City (or, a city which never goes asleep).

In June (usually one or more of the Thursdays), there is one night that Tel Aviv is active through all night long.

Since the UNESCO recognition, Tel Aviv, the White City, has been celebrating its event at the "White Night" festival at the end of June.

This is a nightly sequence of events that takes place all over the city. Events include a competitive night race and a folk race. For competitive track 10 km long and for folk track 5 km long.

There are also performances at dozens of different sites in the city, including concerts of pop music, jazz, classical, opera, world folklore, dance performances and theater.

On the day of the event the city is filled with thousands of entertainers, locals and many guests who come especially from all over the country to experience the white night experience.

Among the other events there will be guided tours of unique sites, the museums are open until late at night and some are open from midnight to dawn. On White Night, the city of Tel Aviv becomes a city of music, color and movement, with most events open to the general public free of charge and some for a nominal fee. You can see a sample of this night (part of it in Hebrew and other part in English) in the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBIeE6qz1Tc

The link, where you can check about the festival is: https://visit.tel-aviv.gov.il/

July, Karmiel Dance Festival- Karmiel Dance Festival is the only festival in Israel, which deals only with dancing.

For three days and nights, non-stop, there are about 100 shows and events attended by about 10,000 dancers from Israel and abroad.

About 250,000 people are expected to attend the festival.

In addition, there is a huge dance around the clock, 72 hours of non-stop dancing, a women's complex, other women's energy shows and workshops, dance competitions, dozens of free performances, a children's and the whole family.

Sample of the performances which you can see in the festival is in the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2mEBuhvAIQ

Link to Karmiel Dance Festival website is: http://karmielfestival.co.il/en/page.asp?category=2048

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August, Outdoor Creator Festival Jerusalem-  Every summer, an international art festival is held in the streets in front of the walls of Jerusalem. The festival has 30 years of experience and has been a part of the city for many years. The place is a fair of artists exhibiting a variety of works such as paintings, ceramics and jewelry from all over the world. At the same time, special events are held, such as an international food fair from the world's cuisines and performances by the best Israeli artists with guest artists from abroad.

In the international artists' exhibition, you can find artists from countries like South Africa with weaving and embroidery, El Salvador with wood and hammocks, Romania with glass paintings, Kenya in Africa with ceramics and traditional handicrafts, Serbia with works combining flowers and wood and dozens of other special works from countries around the world. Over the years, the best artists in Israel, as well as dozens of international bands, have performed at the Outdoor Creator Festival.

Sample of what you can see in the festival is in the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FX0kGtwnXFs

September, the month of the Holidays- On the middle of September, the Jewish year is starting (The Jewish calendar is different than the Gregorian calendar).

In this month starting a serial of three holidays:

1. ROSH HASHANA- two days of Holidays. Most of the Malls are closed, but the Nature Reserve sites, Museums, and Restaurants, are open and pretty crowded with visitors.

2. YOM KIPPUR- Yom Kippur is the most Holy day in the Jewish religion. In this day everything is closed, including the local TV and radio channels!!! 60% of the jews are fasting, and there are no cars in the streets!

3. SUKKOT- Sukkot, commonly called the Feast of Tabernacles and known also as the Feast of Ingathering, is a biblical Jewish holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the beginning of the Jewish year, Tishrei (varies from late September to late October). During the existence of the Jerusalem Temple, it was one of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals on which the Israelites were commanded to perform a pilgrimage to the Temple. In this Holiday, which last for seven days, 80% of the people in Israel are in vacation and it's VERY crowded all over the country.

During this month of holidays, there are a lot of festivals such as: The Classic Music, The Wineries, The Beer, Renaissance Musicians, Yemeni music, Akko's Theatre, International Guitar Music, and more...

When you say to Israeli that you are coming "After the holidays", it means that you are coming in October.

November, Olive Oil's Days Festival- After the holidays everything is renewed, autumn scents in the air and the olive harvest begins in full force.

During the month of November will be held in the Olive Festival, which is celebrating a quarter of a century! For its activities throughout the Galilee, the Golan Heights and the valleys. The olive oil industry in Israel is developing and growing.

The festival promotes the economic development of the Galilee in the agricultural, tourist and cultural aspects. The uniqueness of the Olive Festival is characterized by its various shades, ancient to the modern side, traditional to the advanced side, harvesting methods and different oil production.

Link to the Olive Oil's Days Festival website is: https://zait.galil.gov.il/

December, HANUKKAH celebrations and Christmas- On December we have two important holidays:

1. HANUKKAH- A Jewish holiday which last for eight days (Most of the people are not on vacation). We are celebrating the victory over the Greek forces in 160 BC. During Hanukkah a lot of people are traveling, on night time, in the old cities of Israel (Zefat, Jerusalem), to see the candles which are lightening on the windows, hear bands in the synagogues, and enjoy the atmosphere of the holiday.

You can see a sample of the performance of one band in Zefat at the link: https://youtu.be/1MyqXgXY9Hc

2. Christmas- Christmas in Israel is something very unique. Jerusalem, but, mainly Nazareth and Haifa are lit by colorful lights, and near the holiday, there are street bands performances, Christmas markets, and lovely atmosphere.

You can see a sample of these street performance in Christmas Market in the link: https://youtu.be/tE29xq6fX_E

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