From clowns to crocs

The Jewish Chronicle - - TRAVEL -

Ein Gev Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, where more than 70 Is­raeli choirs and groups will give af­ter­noon and evening per­for­mances at Kib­butz Ein Gev on the shores of Lake Tiberias (April 22-24). While in the town of Tiberias, there are free boat rides (cour­tesy of Bank Hapoalim) on Lake Kin­neret (April 21-24, 10 till 3). Or you can just stroll the lake­side prom­e­nade with its arts and crafts fair (April 23-24, noon to 8pm).

Haifa’s In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val for Chil­dren’s Theatre (April 21-23) prom­ises dozens of per­for­mances fea­tur­ing theatre com­pa­nies from Is­rael and over­seas, as well as plenty of lo­cal colour and out­door events that in­clude clowns from Eng­land and a mu­si­cal­dance trib­ute to the Bea­tles.


There are plenty of Pe­sach hap­pen­ings in Jerusalem to pro­vide a change from all the usual sites and ac­tiv­i­ties. Th­ese in­clude the stun­ning Botan­i­cal Gar­dens (free en­try) which has a farm­ers’ mar­ket, mu­sic and work­shops (April 21-25, 10 to 4pm), and a guided tour in English (11am). There is also the chil­dren’s all-time favourite, the Bib­li­cal Zoo, where per­form­ing ele­phants and live jazz by the lake (lunch time on April 25-26) pro­vide added in­ter­est.

From the van­tage point of the re­cently opened Mamilla Mall just by the Jaffa Gate (great shop­ping and cafés with spec­tac­u­lar views), you can en­joy a free, gi­ant mul­ti­me­dia pre­sen­ta­tion and py­rotech­nics on the Old City walls to cel­e­brate 40 years since Jerusalem’s re­uni­fi­ca­tion (April 22-24 from 7.30pm). There are also free tours of the Old City and many Old City sites which will stay open till late at night for a new twist on the Jerusalem ex­pe­ri­ence.

The Ein Hemed Na­tional Park, just out­side Jerusalem, meta­mor­phoses into the King­dom of Leg­ends (April 2426 April, 11 to 3), with char­ac­ters such as Snow White and Lit­tle Red Rid­ing Hood wait­ing to greet you along­side the streams and Cru­sader fortress.

There are also free guided tours of the West­ern Wall Tun­nels. There is no need to book, but be pre­pared to wait in line. Ev­ery hol hamoed Pe­sach, the West­ern Wall plaza fills to ca­pac­ity with tens of thou­sands flock­ing to re­ceive the priestly bless­ing — an ex­pe­ri­ence not to be missed. You can also ex­pe­ri­ence be­ing a pil­grim in Tem­ple times at the Tower of David with its Com­plete Pil­grim’s Guide (English guided tours, 11am).

At the ever-grow­ing City of David arche­o­log­i­cal park, take a two-hour walk­ing tour (guided in English at 11, 1, 3 and 5) through Hezekiah’s wa­ter tun­nel (not for the claus­tro­pho­bic), or ex­plore the Sec­ond Tem­ple Pe­riod with tours (as be­fore but on the half-hour). Street theatre and mu­si­cal per­for­mances all add to the fes­tive air.

At the Mount of Olives, choose from a large scale scav­enger hunt along the Jerusalem trail; sift­ing for arche­o­log­i­cal trea­sures from the Tem­ple Mount; or tour­ing the site on foot or by jeep.

The Ar­mon HaNatziv prom­e­nade, with its stun­ning city views, plays host to creative work­shops, a drum­mers’

cir­cle and is the start­ing point for Seg­way tours of the area. Over at the Ben Hin­nom Val­ley, there is an eclec­tic mix of tours of an­cient burial caves along­side ex­treme sports for all the fam­ily!

Within easy ac­cess of the hol­i­day hotspots of Tel Aviv, Her­zliya and Ne­tanya, lies the an­cient port of Cae­sarea, with its na­tional park and a mul­ti­me­dia pre­sen­ta­tion. Horses will once again trot their stuff in the an­cient hip­po­drome, much as they did 1,000 years ago.

Neot Ke­du­mim, the bib­li­cal land­scape re­serve mid­way be­tween Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, also prom­ises a great — and free — day out where, in ad­di­tion to the reg­u­lar trails through na­ture and the Bi­ble, there are ac­tors in cos­tume, drum­ming cir­cles and sculpt­ing work­shops (April 20-25, 9 to 5).


The Dead Sea area comes alive with two very pop­u­lar mu­sic fes­ti­vals. On April 21-22, there is the Jewish Rock and Soul Fes­ti­val at the So­lar­ium Beach, with per­for­mances by Barry Sacharoff, Koby Oz (of Euro­vi­sion fame) and the Moshav Band, with all pro­ceeds for the chil­dren of Sderot. The peren­ni­ally pop­u­lar Ahava Fes­ti­val (April 20-25) fea­tures na­ture tours by day and con­certs by night, with lead­ing Is­raeli rock stars in­clud­ing Mashina and Ehud Banai (April 23) and lo­cal su­per­star Mosh Ben Ari in a sun­rise con­cert (April 24-25).

Tear your­selves away from the pool in Ei­lat and take the kids to the Yotvata wildlife re­serve, a 20-minute drive north, for a close en­counter with the an­i­mals of the Bi­ble (April 21-26) or, also out­side the city, the vast Timna Park with a cir­cus fes­ti­val with jug­glers, ac­ro­bats and clowns per­form­ing against a back­drop of dra­matic desert scenery and clear blue skies. There is also a chance to try your hand at jug­gling, tightrope- and stilt-walk­ing (April 21-23, 10 till 4) and sun­set tours from 5-7pm.

Galilee, gor­geous in spring, and burst­ing with Passover ac­tiv­i­ties


Clown­ing around: the cir­cus fes­ti­val at Timna Park, just north of Ei­lat

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