Top things to do in Jerusalem this springWith the weather warming up and the Holy City ensconced in the warm embrace of holidays religious, agricultural, patriotic and somber, springtime is when Jerusalem comes into full bloom after a winter spent hibernating in coffee shops and goulash bars.
With the weather warming up and the Holy City ensconced in the warm embrace of holidays religious, agricultural, patriotic and somber, springtime is when Jerusalem comes into full bloom after a winter spent hibernating in coffee shops and goulash bars.
Now’s the time to get serious about heading outside, checking out the abundance of cultural activities on offer around town, barbecuing, getting wowed by live performances, enjoying fireworks displays and broadening horizons with creative chef concoctions. Read on for GoJerusalem.com's list of awesome ways to spring into a good time in Jerusalem.
Annual Events and Festivals:
Old City Music Festival: March 31-April 3, 2014
This international music festival takes its creative inspiration from the four quarters of the old city, which houses four religions and four musical styles that unite in one city. The festival gives participants the opportunity to reveal the rich and unique musical world of Jerusalem. Music and notes will adorn the Old City's ancient stone paths and alleyways which will erupt with music in all four quarters.
Jerusalem Arts Festival: April 1-7, 2014
Jerusalem's annual Arts Festival (pictured) displays an array of community performance troupes in ten days what might take other cities 365. Hundreds of artists are to participate in the festival, which features over a week of dance, theater, and music performances at various venues around Jerusalem, including the Jerusalem Theater, Bet Mazya, the Y.M.C.A., Beit Shmuel, the Gerard Bechar Center, St. Andrews Church, and others.
Eco Tourism Weekend: May 15-17
The festival, part of the Jerusalem Season of Culture initiative, is an innovative weekend featuring bike tours, recycling workshops and family-friendly activities in natural landscapes and parks in Jerusalem. Who could say no to that?
Stage One English Theater Festival:
Turn off the dark with some English-language song, comedy (pictured) and drama from the Stage One Theater Festival, which takes place on the intermediate days of Passover at Beit Avi Chai.
Spring Holidays on the Hebrew Calendar:
Purim in Jerusalem:
Purim is the one day a year when everybody in west Jerusalem, from ultra-Orthodox Meah Shearim to the youthful, secular city center, goes absolutely nuts. Purim is unique in Jerusalem; due to a somewhat esoteric Jewish law concerning Purim practice in cities that sported walls during the time of Joshua's invasion, Jerusalemites celebrate a day later than everyone else - and much harder. To read more about Purim’s origins and traditions click here.
Nightlife: all night parties including HaTza’atzua’s joint party with the Student Union at the Safra Square Parking lot, live music and DJs at Colony, and Boogie’s annual Purim party at Gerard Bechar.
Family friendly Purim events: Museums and cultural venues around the city offer Purim activities for families on both Purim and Shushan Purim. Check out what’s going on this year at The Museum of Italian Jewish Art, The Museum of Italian Art, Ammunition Hill, The Jerusalem Mall (Malcha), Beit Avi Chai, the Begin Center, and the Tower of David Museum.
Passover: The Hebrew Calendar’s Spring Festival
Tours and cultural adventures:
Expand your cultural horizons with some tours around the city to see how the locals, and especially the ultra-Orthodox, prepare for the holiday, including searing pots to remove any leavened residue in the Ultra-Orthodox Meah She'arim, massive bonfires to burn leftover unleavened foodstuffs on the eve of the holiday, and matza baking in special matza factories. On one of the intermediate days of Passover itself, get blessed at the Western Wall during the twice-yearly convocation of Kohanim-warning: it’s crowded!
Don't let having the kids at home over Passover drive you bonkers. All the top venues around the city and beyond are offering special Passover programs for the kiddies - including the Bloomfield Science Museum, the Museum of Islamic Art (combined tickets for crafts workshops and puppet shows), the Tower of David Museum (storytelling and reenactments, pictured), the Malcha Mall, the Museum of Italian Jewish Art, Ammunition Hill, and the Incubator Theater.
Eating out on Passover:
In recent years, ever-increasing numbers of Jerusalem restaurants have been turning over their kitchens and creating Passover-friendly menus, freeing home cooks from the slavery of the kitchen and offering tourists the high-end culinary experience they have come to expect in Jerusalem. Kosher restaurants that often open their doors over Passover include Sushi Rechavia, Joy, La Boca, and Little Italy. Non-kosher options are available as well for those interested – try Colony, Adom, Lavan, and Brasserie.
When Passover ends, the last thing you want is another piece of matza. But who has time to wait for a loaf to come out of the oven? Luckily, some crafty Moroccans came up with the Mimouna festival at which the mufletta, a thin bread that can be made quickly is served. It has become as much a post-Passover tradition as the legendary barbecue parties they throw the following day. So keep the festivities rolling and check out Mimouna festivities around town!
Shavuot at the Western Wall:
In 1967, with the Western Wall in Jewish hands for the first time in some 2,000 years, the authorities debuted the holy site to the general public on the Shavuot holiday. Since then, thousands have commemorated the holy occasion with a mass gathering for dawn prayers there on the holiday. Truly a sight to behold.
Attractions, Activities, Tours and hiking
The Night Spectacular at the Tower of David Museum
is one Jerusalem’s most popular attractions. Read more and book tickets online here.The Tower of David also often offers themed daytime concerts on Fridays, followed by walking tours of the Old City, in the warmer months – click here to see the current offerings.
Day trips from Jerusalem:
While the Holy City itself can indefinitely entertain any visitor, there's plenty to do and see further afield - and centrally-located Jerusalem is an ideal base from which to take in all Israel has to offer. Click here to read more about the top five day trips from Jerusalem.
Jerusalem City Tour:
The Jerusalem City Tour is comprehensive tour of Jerusalem's top sites from atop a bright red double decker bus - great for families. Click here to book online instantly with GoJerusalem.com.
Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day
This day is one of the most moving days on the city's calendar, with memorials at several sites across the city, including, of course, Yad Vashem.
Honor Israel's fallen servicemen and women by observing Memorial Day, which features a 10:00 siren grinding the city to a halt for two minutes and ceremonies across the city, including at the Western Wall and on Mount Herzl.
On Independence Day, show off your blue and white in the blacklight at one of the city's many dance parties (pictured). Head downtown for free concerts, Independence Day revelry and more foam than you can shake a flag at. Folk dancing and fireworks? Yeah - there'll be that too.
“Mangal,” or “Al Ha-esh,” the Hebrew words for barbecue, is the name of the game on Independence Day. Grab a portable grill, some meat and get to one of the city's many parks early to stake yourself a spot for Independence Day barbecuing and fun.
Celebrate national The Country Smells Like Fire Day (otherwise known as Lag Baomer) by lighting your own bonfire, and head to the hills for some hiking - or check out some mystically themed landmarks around town, such as the Museum of Psalms.
Free events and activities
There’s a lot you do in Jerusalem while keeping your wallet intact, too. Check out our list of some great freebies in Jerusalem below.
Walk the ramparts around the Old City before it gets too hot, and continue into the Old City to explore the Arab Market, the Jewish Quarter, and of course, the Western Wall.
People watching: Grab a chair or a bench and watch the world (and the people of Jerusalem) go by (pictured) while enjoying an early evening breeze – click here for recommendations for some top people watching spots.
Some of the city’s big name festivals offer free entrance to some or all of their offerings. Cultural bites is a yearly free offering at the Jerusalem Arts Festival, following the main performances nightly at the Jerusalem Theater. Entrance to the Old City Music Festival is free of charge as well.
Spend a quality few hours with the youngsters at the extensive kiddie playgrounds and play spaces at Liberty Bell Park, Teddy Park, and Independence Park.
Enjoy a run, stroll, or picnic in Gan Sacher or on the recently renovated Train Tracks which run through the southern part of the city.
The warmer weather, blue skies and blooming nature make this a great season to eat out in places that offer great views of the city’s landscapes. Many restaurants in Jerusalem’s most popular hot spots have open air balconies where you can take in the fresh spring air and the landscapes around you while enjoying the best cuisine the city has to offer – including the Old City, Ein Kerem, the German Colony, the Machane Yehuda, Mamilla, and the Old Train Station.
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