March 9th 2015
If it’s live music you’re craving, Israel has you covered. From the Negev Desert to the mountains of Tzfat in the Galilee, Israel’s music scene is both brisk and bustling. Here are our picks for the best music performance festivals in Israel.
The Oldest Music Festival in Israel
For three days in August, the Negev desert city of Arad becomes a haven for music lovers from all over the country. With a focus on local talent, Israel’s most gifted singers and best bands fill the desert air with Hebrew music. The Arad Music Festival has been running since 1982.
Hummus and Choral Music
Twice a year, during the holidays of Shavuot and Sukkot, the Abu Ghosh Vocal Music Festival hosts several hundred performers in a 12th century Crusader-Benedictine church. Abu Ghosh, a historic Arab village just outside of Jerusalem, is also known for its many hummus restaurants.
Multidisciplinary Arts and Music
The Israel Festival was founded in 1961 and takes place over a few weeks each spring, with the majority of performances scheduled around Jerusalem. The Israel Festival isn’t limited to music, though – it includes dance, poetry slams, street theater, children’s performances and more.
Bluegrass, Folk, Blues and World
The Jacob’s Ladder Music Festival is held in May at the Nof Ginosar Hotel on the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) and attracts thousands of visitors of all ages over the course of the festival weekend. Not limited to music, the festival includes dance and music workshops, story-telling, yoga, tai chi, swimming and a crafts fair. A more intimate Jacob’s Ladder weekend takes place in December at the same hotel.
Shtetl Jams in the Mountains
Founded in 1987, the Klezmer Festival in Tzfat is a three-day, open-air festival of Jewish roots music, held each year in August. Performances are free and take place between 9:00 PM and midnight on stages throughout the Old City of Tzfat. Special activities for children are part of the fun.
Jazz Amid the Coral
First held in 1987, the Red Sea Jazz Festival features four days of international jazz artists and local Israeli jazz musicians. Up to 10 concerts are held each evening at the Port of Eilat during late August. A shorter winter festival was launched in 2010.
Israel’s Biggest Musical Stars
For five days during Sukkot, multiple venues in the Dead Sea area host the Tamar Festival, featuring both Israeli and international music. Hiking and tours of the surrounding desert are a part of the festival fun, which includes sunrise performances on top of Masada.