Israel’s Best Annual Summer Festivals

July 14th 2013

From Haifa to Eilat, summers in Israel are great times to mingle with locals at summer festivals. With schools out on vacation and rarely a cloudy day, festivals made for summer showcase the best of Israelis’ love of culture, entertainment and recreation. Here’s a selection of Israel’s best summer festivals that people look forward to year after year.

Red Sea Jazz Festival – For four August nights in the seaside resort of Eilat, three main venues, with seating for up to 6,000 people, feature the best up-and-coming Israeli and international jazz bands. At Dekel Beach, the festival sponsors an affordable campsite for young people and families, with basic amenities and dining facilities. Shows begin at 7:00 PM each night and are free of charge.

Jerusalem International Film Festival – Held every year since 1984, the Jerusalem International Film Festival screens between 150 and 200 films over the 10-day festival period. Among the film categories are international feature films, films that deal with Jewish identity and history, films by new directors and Israeli films. The majority of films are screened at the newly renovated Jerusalem Cinematheque, just outside the Old City walls, while the opening night’s event always involves a major feature projected onto an enormous screen at the Sultan’s Pool, under the stars.

Haifa International Film Festival – One year older than the Jerusalem International Film Festival, the Haifa International Film Festival, held on the scenic Mount Carmel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, screens hundreds of films over the course of nearly two weeks. The full program of films is supplemented by free nightly outdoor events, including live music, open-air screenings, an arts and crafts market and street parties. All around the festival location, cafes and restaurants remain open and full of activity until late.

Jerusalem Woodstock Revival – Cover bands make classic acts like Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Janis Joplin rock on at Kraft Stadium in Jerusalem, headquarters of the Israel Football League. Besides the rock concert, the single night of peace and music is also the location of a huge, family-oriented tailgate party and barbecue. The Jerusalem Woodstock Revival is especially popular with the English-speaking residents of the Jerusalem area.

International Klezmer Festival – For more than 20 years, the city of Tzfat has been hosting the International Klezmer Festival, featuring the best Klezmer musicians from Israel and around the world. Performances for the entire family are coupled with workshops, classes, open stages and street shows all around the ancient city, transformed with a carnival-like atmosphere.

International Arts and Crafts Fair – Billed as Jerusalem’s largest tourist attraction of the summer season, the International Arts and Crafts Fair (“Chutzot HaYotzer”) in Jerusalem is held at Sultan’s Pool, just below the Old City Walls. Open every evening (except Friday night) for two weeks, the fair features artists from all over the world, with a special section devoted to arts and crafts by Israeli artisans. A huge kids’ recreation area, loads of dining options and top draw musical talent all sweeten the deal.