K K 1 K S TA

Winter is Coming: Top 10 Winter Festivals and Holidays in Jerusalem

While the summer may be tourist season in Jerusalem, winter is no less vibrant. Throughout the season, there are all types of festivals celebrating music, culture, the arts and much more, along with holidays like Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s.

If you don’t believe us, take a look for your self!

Jerusalem Winter Festivals and Holidays

International Dance Week

Now, in it’s 10th year, International Dance Week at the Machol Shalem Dance House hosts independent Israeli and international guest dance artists performing a wide selection of works that test the boundaries of choreography and challenge this performance discipline.



International Music Showcase

Taking place at venues in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv over 8 days in October, the International Music Showcase features some of the best Jazz and world music ensembles alongside rock, indie and electronic acts.

The showcase is a central platform for exposing Israeli artists to representatives of the international music industry, who come in droves to the event every year. Among the guests are directors of international music festivals and cultural institution, agents, buyers, promoters, producers, label representatives and press from all over the world.

For eight days the International Music Showcase Festival serves as a central platform in Israel to introduce the best Israeli jazz and world music ensembles and the best rock, indie and electronic bands to the global music industry.

The first 4 days of the festival are dedicated to jazz and world music and the latter half to rock, indie and electronic.



Hamshushalayim Winter Festival

While summer gets most of the attention, even in the dead of winter, Jerusalem is alive and kicking. Every weekend in December, the city comes to life with special, and often free, art exhibitions, tours, concerts and other cultural events as part of the Hamshushalayim Winter Festival. Along with all the events, you can also take advantage of great deals on hotels and in restaurants.



Jewish Film Festival

The Jewish Film Festival features dozens of films covering a range of topics connected to the issue of Jewish identity, including faith, art, culture, philosophy, music, food, lifestyle in Israel and in the Diaspora and the relationship between Judaism and other religions.

You can catch screenings at the Jerusalem Cinematheque as well as lectures, competitions, discussions, live music, special events and more around town.



Sometimes called the Festival of Light, Hanukkah brings Jerusalem to life with special events, concerts tours and more for 8 days during December. On any given day there is something for everybody, whether you’re alone, in a group or with family.

Join candle lighting at the Western Wall around sunset every day of Hanukkah, and walk the streets of Jerusalem to see the thousands of candle lights in the windows.

If you’d like to partake in the history of the holiday, try taking a tour of the Western Wall Tunnels or head down to the Western Wall on a Friday evening in order to take in the experience of hundreds of people praying with joy as they bring in Shabbat next to this supportive wall of the Temple Mount where the Temple once stood.




Christmas in Jerusalem is a truly unforgettable experience. You can find services and events throughout the many churches in the Christian Quarter of the Old City and Ein Karem or head to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, to take part in the celebrations there. Go by yourself or join a Christmas tour. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.


New Year’s Eve

New Year’s is not an official holiday in Israel, but that doesn’t mean that Jerusalemites don’t know how to celebrate it. You can find any number of parties at Jerusalem nightlife institutions, or if you’re looking for something low-key, restaurants and hotels around the city cook up special meals with celebratory champagne at midnight.

There are some naysayers who claim Jerusalem is no place to celebrate New Year’s. Granted, Jerusalem is more low key than other western cities on this holiday – rightfully so considering that January 1st is a regular work day in Israel – but many Israelis love finding excuses to celebrate and so you’ll find some beautiful dinners and fun New Year’s parties, leaving you with quite a few choices of how to commemorate the day that is know in Israel as Silvester.


Shaon Horef Cultural Festival

The Shaon Horef Festival in February is 4 weeks of almost non-stop cultural events throughout the city. The 4th annual festival in 2015 attracted tens of thousands of people to hundreds of events in the Mahane Yehuda, Hahavatselet, Shushan and Yad Harutsim districts.

Events usually include music, dance, street theater, video art, cooking workshops, parties, artist master classes and exhibitions. Stay tuned for information on which districts will be hosting this year.



Sounds of the Old City

Sounds of the Old City is the premiere musical event in Jerusalem’s Old city, featuring scores of musicians are spread out along a circular path, beginning by Jaffa Gate, moving through the Armenian Quarter, then the Jewish Quarter, then the Muslim Quarter and finishing with the Christian Quarter, bringing you back to Jaffa Gate.

It’s a great opportunity for visitors to check out the musical traditions found in the Old City of Jerusalem where special melodies both ancient and modern, played on a range of instruments and ensembles, create a collage of beautiful music.



Jeursalem Arts Festival

The Jerusalem Arts Festival hosts dozens of professional and semi-professional artists performing dance shows and concerts at major concert halls throughout the city, including the Jerusalem Theater, Gerard Behar Center, Khan Theater, the YMCA, Beit Shmuel and St. Andrews Church.

Free performances take place every evening before and after the main performances at the Jerusalem Theater.