April is a great time to visit Israel, not only is the weather perfect but there are many events and religious holidays. Here are the top events, holidays and happenings in Israel in April 2015.
April 3-10 – Passover, across the country
The Jewish Passover holiday lasts for 8 days. The first day of Passover is kept like a religious Shabbat – it is a non-working day, stores and places of entertainment are closed. Most Jewish Israeli’s spend this first day with their families. During the rest of Passover everything is open and Israeli kids have a school holiday. Some companies work half-day throughout the Passover week. The one difference which visitors will notice is that bread and products made with flour are almost completely unavailable. Many restaurants now make bread and rolls without flour during Passover and in Arab cities and some remote stores you will still be able to get bread. At the end of the week-long Passover holiday there is another one-day religious holiday observed like a Shabbat. As you can see from the following list there are many events, activities and festivals during Passover so it is a great time to visit Israel. With all Jewish holidays remember that the holiday begins at sundown the night before and continues until sundown on the day of the holiday. So for example this year Passover begins at sundown on 3rd April and continues until sundown on the 4th April.
April 2-5 – Easter, Jerusalem
If you are in Jerusalem on March 29th then you can join in the procession which goes from the Mount of Olives, through the Old City to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Priests and Christians from around the world carry palm fronds, sing, pray and chant as they make the procession.
Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday) is on the 2nd April, traditionally the Patriarch of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre washes the feet of his priests mirroring the actions of Jesus as he washed his disciples’ feet. There are special prayer services in many churches especially in the Old City of Jerusalem.
On Good Friday (3rd April) you can join in the procession of people who follow the Via Dolorosa through the Old City. This is the route Jesus took carrying his cross towards his crucifixion. The procession ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This is unique and once-in-a-life-time experience for Christians visiting the Holy Land.
Easter Sunday on the 5th April is marked with the Catholic Easter Mass in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Protestants hold a service at the Garden Tomb early in the morning and watch the sunrise. At noon the Ceremony of the Holy Fire is held in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, church bells ring, candles are lit and there is a spiritual atmosphere throughout the Christian Quarter of the Old City.
April 6-8 – Stone in the Galilee Sculpture Symposium, Ma’alot Tarshiha
If you want to get out of the city and see a little of Israel’s magnificent countryside then take a trip to Ma’a lot Tarshiha. Ma’a lot Tarshiha lies inland from Nahariya. It is a city established in the 1960s by merging the Arab town of Tarshiha with the Jewish town of Ma’a lot. On the edge of the city is the beautiful man-made Lake Monfort with landscaped gardens surrounding it. At this annual symposium sculptors from Israel and abroad create sculptures from large blocks of Galilee stone. The creations are displayed near the lake. Each year there is a theme to the symposium and this year it is “Futuristic Stone Sculptures.” After seeing the sculptures you can enjoy the beautiful surroundings. There will be arts and crafts stalls, food on sale, activities for families and much more. For more details see the Ma’a lot Tarshiha website – maltar.org.il.
April 5-8 – Ein Gev Music Festival, Ein Gev on the shore of the Sea of Galilee
This annual Hebrew song festival has been held for more than 70 consecutive years at the Ein Gev Kibbutz on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The festival features live musical performances by well known, and lesser known singers. The music is mainly Israeli music and choral singing. In addition to the musical portion of the festival there will be activities in the port area, children’s shows and mini-train rides around the kibbutz. The kibbutz is one of the most beautiful in the area and has many facilities for visitors including a restaurant, camping and guesthouse.
April 10 – Mimouna, across the country but best at Gan Sacher, Jerusalem
When Passover is finished as the sun goes down on the 10th April religious Jews who have abstained from eating bread or other foods containing flour for an entire week celebrate with the Mimouna! Mimouna is a Moroccan tradition with singing, dancing, traditional Moroccan costumes and lots of delicious food. Each city organizes a Mimouna in tents, parks or halls but perhaps the most impressive place to join in the Mimouna is at Gan Sacher, Jerusalem. The evening starts with the Moroccan women kneading dough, then they prepare the traditional mofletta, fried crepe-like dough that is then smothered with honey. Although it is essentially a Moroccan tradition today Israelis from all ethnic groups join in. Some people hold a Mimouna party in their homes and it is traditional to leave the front door open and welcome in all guests without invitation.
April 7-11 – Zorba the Buddha Festival, Ashram Desert, South
This 5 day festival includes workshops, parties, concerts and a gathering of fun and peace loving people. The motto of the festival is “Think Less, Feel More!” The festival is a celebration of the whole being. The festival will be divided into several areas. The in the main area you can explore meditation with live music, see performances and take yoga classes. Other areas of the festival include breathing rebirthing workshops, Osho workshops, alternative therapies including tribal fusion and hi Kong. There will be theatre, role playing, yoga, healing circles, Shamanism workshops, music for the soul, health workshops, acrobalance, Sangha and much more. Entrance to the festival is for those over 21 years looking for silence, meditation and peace. The Ashram is in the Shitim settlement on route 40. For more information call 052-5443349 or visit the Ashram website.
April 16 – Holocaust Memorial Day, across the country
Holocaust Day is a normal working day and your travel plans won’t be disturbed too much by this day. There are ceremonies and the laying of wreaths at certain memorials throughout the country but kids go to school and adults go to work. Like all Jewish holidays Holocaust Memorial Day starts the night before at sundown on the 15th April and ends at sundown on the 16th April. At 10am on the 16th an air-raid siren is sounded across the country and everyone, no matter where they are or what they are doing, stops and stands still for a minute in memory of those lost in the Holocaust.
April 5-9 – Holon Design Week, Holon not far from Tel Aviv
A variety of events and exhibitions will be held for the whole family at the Design Museum Holon. This will be the 5th year that the event has been held. There will be two new exhibitions on display as well as a selection of the museum collection. In addition to the exhibitions at the museums there will be design exhibition in the municipal galleries around the city. At the Israel Center for Digital Art in Holon there will be a sound exhibition and the Israel Cartoon Museum will also be launching a new exhibition. During Design Week there will be activities at the Holon Institute of Technology as at the Mediatheque Complex Holon. During Design Week entrance to the Design Museum will be reduced to 20ILS for adults and kids up to 18 years old enter for free. For more details about events and exhibitions contact the Holon Design Museum at +972 7 32151515 or at email@example.com.
April 23– Israel Independence Day (Yom HaAtzmaut), across country
If you like to party then this is one of the best days of the year to visit Israel. In each city the municipalities set up public stages and there are live performances. The streets are decorated and there are food stalls, entertainment, bright lights and lots of fun. In the larger cities nightclubs hold special parties all night long and the next day if you are not sleeping off a hang-over there are more activities. The parties are from sundown on the 22nd April.