Your Ultimate Israeli Festival Guide for August 2021

For those of you located in Israel August is the month of the Israeli festival.  There are several events being held around the country dedicated to Israeli and Jewish culture including music, beer, films, art. If you are looking for an Israeli summer of fun and variety look no further than World Jewish Travel’s guide below. This list was personally organized by a Jerusalem local.

The Felicja Blumental International and Israeli Music Festival

The good times start in Tel Aviv at the Felicja Blumental International Music Festival. This festival has been taking place at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art since 1999 and features a 5-day long musical program of classical, jazz, and ethnic music. This year, the event will take place from August 3rd to August 7th so you have plenty of time to fit it into your plan while exploring the city.

museum exhibition with hebrew writing and screens
Let There Be Laughter exhibition at the Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv

A History of Jewish Comedians

Tel Aviv is known for its beautiful beaches and colorful culture. The city has some of the most highly-reviewed museums in the country with temporary exhibitions that you don’t want to miss. The newly renovated Museum of the Jewish People has a new exhibit, Let There Be Laughter.  It looks at the origins of Jewish humor and the contributions of Jewish comedians to the history of comedy. The Eretz Israel Museum is another highly rated museum with exhibitions of local nature, glass artifacts, and pottery. If you find yourself needing a break from the August heat, these museums are worth adding to your Israeli festival itinerary.

Hutzot Fair in the Old City of Jerusalem – Credit: https://www.itraveljerusalem.com/evt/hutzot-hayotzer-intl-arts-and-crafts-fair/

Sunset in the Jewish Quarter

From Tel Aviv, head over to the Holy City of Jerusalem just in time for Shabbat. You’ll want to make sure to stop at the Machane Yehuda market to see the pre-Shabbat hustle and bustle. Taste the fresh halva, nuts, tahini and knafe from the local shops. There are also several restaurants located in or nearby the market where you can grab a bite to eat. Once Shabbat has started, take a walk to the Old City’s Jewish Quarter. you’ll find a peaceful atmosphere that you don’t usually get with all of the tourists who visit during the week. Don’t forget that public transportation doesn’t run on Shabbat, so you may want to find a hotel near the old city.   

Hutzot Hayotzer: The Potters Section

After a relaxing weekend, you will be ready for the international arts and crafts festival, the Hutzot Hayotzer Fair.  The festivities begin on August 9th in one of Jerusalem’s most iconic locations, the Sultan’s Pool, an ancient water basin located in the valley of Hinnom on the west side of Mount Zion.  Wrapped in the pines of Jerusalem underneath a sky of stars, visitors can view a variety of handmade goods and art from hammocks to paintings. This is also a spot to catch some of the hottest rock and pop stars in the Israeli music industry. You can also catch dance performances and scheduled workshops.    

Band playing at the annual Safed Klezmier Festival – Credit: https://www.secrettelaviv.com/tickets/safed-klezmer-festival-2016

Klezmer, Kabbalah, and Israeli Art

From the Jerusalem Central Bus Station you can hop on a bus to the mystical birthplace of Kabbalah, Safed. Here the 34th annual Safed Klezmer Festival invites patrons to experience three nights of Klezmer performances starting on August 17th. Don’t miss dozens of Israeli and international bands.  During the festival, performances are held throughout the alleyways of the Jewish Quarter and Artist’s Quarter at 9:00 and going until midnight. During the day we recommend attending the festival’s numerous workshops and activities. There is glass blowing, ceramics, tours of the city, or visit the artisans selling their art.  If you need a bite to eat during the festival, be sure to check out our recommended restaurants, and visit Safed’s other must-see sites

Jerusalem International Film Festival – Credit: https://www.itraveljerusalem.com/evt/international-film-festival/

The Jerusalem Film Festival

After you’ve had your fill of Klezmer, make your way back to the Holy City just in time for the 38th Jerusalem Film Festival on August 24th.  This festival screens a number of Israeli cinematic masterpieces. Additionally, it features films by internationally acclaimed directors and actors with past contributors including Wong Kar Wai, Tsai Ming-Liang, John Sayles, Jim Jarmusch, Stephen Frears, Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Jane Fonda, and Robert Dinero; the star-studded list is endless. The opening event will also be held in the Sultan’s Pool. The remaining screenings take place around the city. Featuring the presence of 5000 viewers with 200 films from 50 different countries.

The Old City of Jerusalem

Design Your Own Israel Guide for Next Time

In case you wanted to add some extra stops to your agenda there are a ton of great options. Now that Shabbat is over and the city is back to life you can take a guided tour of Jerusalem at one of the many historic sites. Besides tours you can visit one of the city’s many unique museums, archeological sites, historic cemeteries, and synagogues. You will find that you could spend weeks in Jerusalem alone so you may have to save some of the sites for your next trip to Israel.  
There is no better way to end your summer than with a trip around Israel. This is definitely one of the easiest countries to navigate and explore. On top of this the nation hosts some of the worlds top cultural events and sites. Whether you’re a local or thinking of making Israel your post-pandemic vacation destination, don’t hesitate to attend these Israeli festivals. You will get to experience Israel’s culture, creativity, and love of life.