Opera, jazz, puppetry, sports, crafts, books, avant-garde theater: All that and much more is planned as spring slides into summer in Israel. If you’re planning a visit between June and August, consider putting some of these 17 events on your itinerary. Always confirm dates ahead of time in case of changes.
- Abu Ghosh Vocal Music Festival, May 30 to June 3
The twice-yearly Abu Ghosh Vocal Music Festival, in the Arab village just west of Jerusalem, features concerts in the 12th century Crusader-Benedictine Church and the Kiryat Ye’arim Church. This year’s performers range from the Delaware University Choir to opera singer Hadar Atari.
- Israel Festival, June 1-18
The Israel Festival showcases avant-garde performance artists from Israel and abroad in genres ranging from classical music and indie rock to experimental theater and songfests. This year, some 35,000 people are expected to attend the shows, held mainly in the Jerusalem Theater and also at Jerusalem’s Sultan’s Pool, Israel Museum, Eden-Tamir Music Center and Zion Square.
- Jerusalem Design Week, June 8-15
Seven days of exhibitions, concerts, conceptual installations, workshops, and events at the Hansen House, Jerusalem Theater, Museum of Islamic Art and other venues in the Talbieh neighborhood are organized by the Design Center of Jerusalem to showcase cutting-edge designers from Israel and abroad.
- Jerusalem International Book Fair, June 11-15
The International Book Fair at The First Station hosts about 250 publishers from Israel and around the world. The fair includes literary events such as readings, book signings, story hours for children, poetry readings and more.
- Jerusalem Opera Festival, June 21-22
This year’s Jerusalem Opera Festival at Sultan’s Pool will feature a production of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Nabucco” accompanied by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra.
- Jerusalem International Light Festival, June 28 to July 6
The ninth annual International Festival of Light invites participants (for free) to walk along illuminated trails in Jerusalem’s Old City to see light-inspired innovative installations, huge video projections, performance pieces, works of art and original fixtures for sale from Israel and abroad.
- White Night Europa Tel Aviv, June 29
The Tel Aviv White Night (Laila Lavan) is the city’s biggest cultural event. About 100 events — concerts, picnics, parties, special exhibitions and tours — take place from 7:30pm through daybreak in venues across the White City. Many eateries and stores remain open all night as well. The yearly tradition began in honor of UNESCO declaring Tel Aviv’s white Bauhaus-style buildings a World Heritage Site in July 2003.
- Tel Aviv International Bridge Festival, June 30 to July 6
The Israeli Bridge Federation will host about 10,000 players from the United States, United Kingdom, Poland, Russia, The Netherlands, Serbia, Norway, India, Hungary, Greece, and South Africa at Tel Aviv’s Shlomo Group Arena for the 51st International Bridge Festival. The players compete for cash and other prizes.
- Maccabiah Games, July 4-18
The Maccabiah, (“the Jewish Olympics”) the world’s largest Jewish athletic competition, takes place every four years in Israel. The 20th Maccabiah this summer will be the biggest ever, encompassing about 10,000 athletes and 22,000 fans from more than 80 countries. The opening ceremony will take place in Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium and the competitive matches (Open, Junior, Masters and Paralympics) will be held in several cities. This year’s presenter is Olympic judoka Yarden Gerbi.
- Tel Aviv Blues Festival, July 13-16
The Tel Aviv Blues Festival boasts four days of 40 concerts in 20 different clubs and bars. Many of the shows are free.
- Jerusalem International Film Festival, July 13-23
Every July since 1984, the Cinemateque has hosted a 10-day international film festival. This year will feature 200 films made in 45 countries, plus a new three-day Think Fest industry event for international festival directors and organizers.
- Akko Opera Festival, August 3 and 5
Handel’s “Giulio Cesare in Egitto,” accompanied by the Israel Camerata Jerusalem Orchestra, will be performed for the Acre (Akko) Opera Festival in the ancient Crusaders Court of Old Acre on Israel’s northern Mediterranean coast.
- International Puppet Festival, August 6-10
The International Puppet Festival sponsored by Jerusalem’s Train Theater is celebrating its 26th edition with Israeli and international performances for children and adults, from contemporary and traditional puppet theater to object and character theater. Shows take place in the Train Theater, Liberty Bell Park, Yemin Moshe, Khan Theater and The First Station.
- Karmiel Dance Festival, August 8-10
The 30th Karmiel Dance Festival (between Acre and Safed) promises three morning-to-midnight days encompassing about 100 performances and events featuring 10,000 local and international dancers. About 250,000 people are expected at Israel’s largest dance festival this year.
- International Arts and Crafts Fair (Hutzot Hayotzer), August 7-19
This annual outdoor festival has been held for 41 years at Hutzot Hayotzer, the Jerusalem Arts and Crafts art amphitheater near the walls of the Old City. Hundreds of crafters and artisans from Israel, Europe and Africa display their wares. Concerts held in conjunction with the festival take place nightly at Sultan’s Pool nearby. Open every evening (except Fridays) between 6 and 11pm; Saturday from 9 to midnight.
- Safed International Klezmer Festival, August 22-24
Now in its 32nd year, the Safed International Klezmer Festival features open-air stages set up around the parks and public squares of the Old Jewish Quarter and Artists Quarter of Safed (Tzfat) in the Upper Galilee. Musical tours, children’s activities, and master classes will be on offer during the festival.
- The Red Sea Jazz Festival August 27-30
The picturesque Eilat Port is the site of four days of jazz performances, workshops and late-night jam sessions covering everything from classic to voodoo jazz.