Any time of year you decide to visit Israel, there will be some festival going on. The festival scene is surprisingly big for such a small country, with many events to choose from throughout the year.
The main festival season starts as early as March, which is springtime in Israel and the weather is perfect for camping. There are also many summer festivals and even some in winter.
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The popular festivals are usually packed and often sell out. Generally, you want to book your tickets early, because the price goes up as the date of the festival approaches.
The biggest festivals in Israel are music festivals, with a surprising range of styles and festivals revolving around spirituality of all kinds, which are incredibly popular. There are some high quality film and theatre festivals as well.
Here are some of the best festivals to go to when you visit Israel
The Israeli version of Burning Man is one of the largest local burn events in the world. It only started a few years ago (while Burning Man started way back in 1986), but has quickly become immensely popular.
For those who don’t know Burning Man, it’s an annual gathering in a temporary city created especially for the festival by its participants. It’s held in Black Rock Desert in Nevada.
The idea behind it is exploring self expression through different art forms, which results in a unique display of creativity and experimentalism.
To take part, you want to join a camp. Each camp prepares its own activities, art installations, DJ parties or anything else its members might like to do.
You can also come to the festival by yourself without joining a camp, but it would be easier if you do join one, and also make your involvement in the event more meaningful.
Tickets for Mudburn are limited and somewhat costly, although at the festival itself everything is free, based on the gifting principle.
Midburn takes place around May or June each year in the Negev desert in the south of Israel. It lasts five days, during which you can expect to lose touch with the world outside the festival.
Tip: Even if you can’t make it to the main event, there are many local Midburn parties and gatherings going on throughout the year in Tel Aviv and other places.
Menashe Forest Festival
Held in a beautiful forest in northern Israel , Mensahe Forest Festival is one of the major music festivals in Israel that takes place every year.
This is a 3-day event with a large selection of shows and performers.
If you’d like to learn about the Israeli music scene, you’ll get to see and hear Israel’s best music acts all in one place. There are also some guest international artists.
The Sufi Festival
Held over a weekend in April or May, the Sufi Festival has a varied programme of shows, talks and workshops. This is a rather unique experience.
This festival isn’t what you’d expect to find in Israel, yet it has many loyal followers who enjoy Sufi music and Sufi philosophy.
The musical styles are not exclusively Sufi though, and you’ll enjoy all kinds of Middle Eastern and world fusion music shows by some of the best performers around.
The festival is hosted by the Desert Ashram in the south of Israel. It’s a beautiful and well-maintained space that can host big festivals, but the Sufi Festival isn’t a crowded one and the general vibe is very peaceful.
It attracts a varied audience that is seriously into Sufism or just enjoys word music.
While the shows on the two festival stages are the main attraction, there are many other activities going on, especially workshops and master classes, an art market and vegetarian food stands.
La Indiga Festival
This is a women only festival (though not a lesbian one) with a general female empowerment theme. All the performers are women and the workshops are led by women. The only males around are kids, as you can bring your child with you.
The main stage hosts excellent music acts, DJs and sometimes dance and theatre too.
The workshops run throughout the days of the festival and are mostly spiritual ones.
The food is vegetarian and the general vibe is hippie. There’s even a sweat lodge!
inDnegev Music Festival
This hugely popular music festival is the place to see some of the top local music acts.
The styles range from Indie to Reggae to Middle Eastern music and just about everything in between.
It’s a 3-day annual event with a dedicated following. Apart from the music concerts, it offers workshops, art installations, film screenings and activities for kids.
More about visiting Israel
First time in Tel Aviv? Use my tips for first time visitors
Afraid to visit Israel because it’s so expensive? Use my budget guide
Top things to do in Israel according to TripAdvisor
The Lonely Planet guide to Israel & Palestine
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