With a calendar filled with religious, cultural and sporty events year-round, Israel has a fantastic range of options to keep visitors’ diary jam-packed. Here is a selection of some of the most popular events all-over Israel:
Birkat Kohanim, JerusalemAn awe-inspiring celebration, Birkat Kohanim sees ten of thousands of people gathering at the Kotel (Western Wall) to witness the priestly blessing. Jewish men belonging to the Kohanim tribe cover their head with their prayer shawl (tallit) and bless the crowd with a millenia old prayer during the morning prayer.
Where: Jerusalem When: During the festival of Passover ,usually late March or mid April. Next year: 09 April 2023
Tel Aviv Night RunA favourite with runners, this 10km race takes place at nighttime to offer its 25,000 participants a different view of Tel Aviv. Open to anyone over 14 who can present a doctor’s note attesting their fitness levels, the race departs from Rabin Square, the city’s hub for all major events, and closes with a celebratory finish line festival at Ganei Yehoshua.
Where: Tel Aviv When: Date still to be announced.
Taste of Galilee Food FestivalSet in the green and relaxing Galilee region, this annual celebration of Israeli gastronomy will appeal to foodies. The week-long event features workshops, special events hosted by restaurants in the area, as well as a focus on specific local produce.
Where: Different locations in the Galilee and the Jordan Valley. When: Date still to be announced.
Christmas in BethlehemA wonderful way to celebrate Christmas is to spend the evening of the birth of Jesus in the very city where he was born. Before watching the midnight mass or inside the church or on a giant screen on Manger’s Square, you’ll have the chance to visit Bethlehem’s key site related to Jesus’ birth, the Church of the Nativity.
Where: Bethlehem When: December 24, 2023
Red Sea Jazz Festival, EilatNot one just for jazz aficionados, this well established festival taking place in the south of Israel also welcomes world music (from the Balkans to Cuba), Middle Eastern sounds, and pop music.Around 35 events are held with the magnificent backdrop of the Red Sea in Eilat. A great feature of this festival, happening in winter and summer, is the free jam sessions.
Where: Eilat, different venues. When: Date still to be announced.
Jerusalem MarathonInternational Jerusalem Winner Marathon]One of Israel’s largest marathons, attracting some 30,000 runners opting for a marathon, half-marathon, 10km, 5km, 1.7km or 800m race, the event is open to elite runners as well as enthusiastic amateurs.The route takes in some of the most impressive landmarks in the Israeli capital including Machane Yehuda Jerusalem market, the Tower of David Old City walls, and also Mount Scopus.
Where: Jerusalem When: March 17, 2023
White Night, Tel AvivDubbed “the city that never sleeps” Tel Aviv lives up to its vibrant reputation during “Laila Lavan”, an event where music is played all night long around the city.The main concerts are held at Bialik Square, Shuk HaCarmel, Rothschild Boulevard, and Kikar Rabin while parties and gigs can be found at many bars and clubs in Tel Aviv and Jaffa.
Where: Tel Aviv When: June 29, 2023
Midburn Festival, NegevInspired by the legendary Nevada desert event in the US, the Midburn event is the opportunity for its participants to let their creativity loose through interactive art, performances, and self-expression.Don’t expect the traditional festival set-up with stages and music but rather a giant camping site in the Negev and a colourful, joyful and free-spirited vibe.
Where: Sde Boker When: Date still to be announced.
Jerusalem Festival of LightsStunning displays of artwork, statues, and installations using light as a medium and the impressive background of the Old City’s walls delight visitors to Jerusalem when night falls. Attracting a crowd of around 250,000 over 10 days, the event’s creations are by artists from Israel and from abroad.
Where: Jerusalem When: June 2023
Klezmer Festival, SafedSet in the atmospheric old city of Safed, this three days open air festival celebrates the melancholic, soulful, and also joyful music from Eastern Europe. Klezmer resonates in the alleyways hosting artists’ galleries while workshops are organised for children around the themes of storytelling and, of course, music.
Where: Safed When: Date still to be announced.Words: Sonia Esther Soltani