There is plenty to do in Jerusalem and enough variety to keep you busy throughout your gap year. However, a few times a year there are various different festivals which are really worth making the effort to visit.
Each year at the beginning of the summer the Jerusalem Light Festival takes place in the Old City and attracts thousands of visitors. A number of routes are carved out through the Old City each one featuring light installations that have been created by local and international artists. The displays include video, sound 3D effects and even an art fair. The festival is completely free and it is a great chance to see the Old City in an entirely new light.
Israel is well known for its technological innovations and most years Jerusalem holds a Geek Picnic to celebrate technology and all things that geeks love. At the festival you will find a showcase of robots, androids, 3D printing, virtual reality, bionic technology and much more. This is combined with a BBQ, games and workshops. While it won’t appeal to everyone, if you like technology it is sure to be a fascinating experience.
Similarly the Jerusalem Opera Festival isn’t likely to appeal to everyone but fans of classic music are sure to enjoy it. In the past the festival has included performances of Verdi given by the Israeli Opera Chorus and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. Watching the operas performed outside against the backdrop of the Old City walls is certainly an even to remember.
Perhaps more unifying is the Jerusalem Wine Festival which is held every year in the gardens at the Israel Museum. The festival features stalls from over 60 wineries from across Israel and after you’ve bought your entrance ticket you can taste as many of the wines as you please. Together with the wine you will also find stalls selling food, although you can bring your own, and there also live music in case you get the urge to dance.
Similar to this is the Jerusalem Beer Festival where hundreds of Israeli beers are on offer together with food, street performers and live music. However, unlike the wine festival you will need to pay for each beer individually and it can very quickly add up to an expensive evening. Nonetheless, with some of the most famous bands in Israel performing you may find that it is worth the money.
Perhaps more in line with the nature of Jerusalem is the Sacred Music Festival. The festival brings together different faiths to create a “pilgrimage of peace, tolerance and brotherhood … that will make you stop and ponder, have you dancing wildly, enlighten you and make your heart soar.” The festival takes place in historical caves, churches and synagogues across the city and is certainly worth a visit.
Other festivals in Jerusalem include the Film Festival, which brings directors, cinematographers, writers and others from around the world and the Arts and Crafts Fair where local artists can show off their creations.
While you may not be able to make it to all of these events, be sure to keep an eye out for them during your time in Israel and they offer a guaranteed good time.