Entertainment Guide to Jerusalem
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Discover great local attractions, activities and things to do in Jerusalem, Israel.
In Jerusalem, nightlife is modest compared to the bright lights, big city, trance and dance culture of brasher Tel Aviv. A Jerusalem evening out is likely to involve food, a coffee shop, and promenading around, enjoying both the fairytale-like atmosphere of the city at night and the hive of human activity.
For listings of all events in English, buy the Friday edition of either the Jerusalem Post or Ha'aretz-Herald Tribune International. There are often lectures, workshops or performances geared specifically towards English speakers. Also look out for Israeli folk dance events. There are possibilities to both watch a show and to participate in a class.
The municipality has invested USD2.5 million in illuminating the walls of the Old City, plus some 50 other buildings of note including churches, museums, the Western Wall Plaza and other key sites. A walk around Jerusalem at night is recommended to take in the magic (and highly recommended if you want a romantic evening). To view Jerusalem at its twinkling best, try standing at the bridge by the Cinematheque or on the Haas Promenade (Tayelet).
Music and Performance
The alleys off Zion Square, such as Yoel Salomon, are peppered with coffee and dessert places - and the odd bar. Tmol Shilshom, a literary café in this area, is a charming place for coffee and cake. The premises are the former home of Israeli writer S.Y. Agnon. There are frequent readings (in both Hebrew and English) and English poetry slams.
Talpiot, a few kilometers further south out of town, is the city's industrial zone and is home to the dance clubs Ha'atasiya and Campus, as well as the live music venue, the Yellow Submarine. Clubs do not get going until around midnight, as Israelis rarely go out before 10p. The DJs keep on playing until dawn.
Ticho House has a cheese, wine and jazz evening every Tuesday and the Bible Lands Museum has a cheese and wine recital on Saturday nights. Churches, such as Dormition Abbey and the Church of the Redeemer, give concerts. Classical music lovers should check the schedule at the Jerusalem Theatre and the International Convention Centre.
Jerusalem has two wonderful art-house cinemas, the Cinematheque which has two screens and a very good café-restaurant, and the Smadar - a one screen cinema with a popular café attached. For mainstream releases, go to the mall, which has eight screens and a large food court.
Films are also frequently shown outdoors at Liberty Bell Park. A trip to the Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive is well-worth it for those looking to learn more about Jewish history as captured on film.
In the summer months, Jerusalem hops from one festival to another - providing all sorts of atmospheres and cultural experiences, (many of them free). Late May is the start of the Israel Festival, three weeks of some of the best national and international performing arts acts. Many of the performances are centered around the Jerusalem Theatre, with plentiful free concerts in the theater's plaza or foyer.
July plays host to the Jerusalem International Film Festival, which, in the past, has screened 150 different films over ten days. There are free public events, (such as mass screenings in the park). Tickets for the screenings are very reasonably priced, with the added bonus that some films include lectures, meetings with the director and premiere parties on the lawn.
In August, the park area around the Sultan's Pool, is transformed into a microcosm of the world. Inca palaces and Nepalese temples shoot up for the two-week long International Arts and Crafts Fair. There are pavilions representing all manner of countries, as well as international food stands and more than 150 artists selling jewelry and craft items. The biggest pull of the evening are the concerts given by some of Israel's hottest contemporary performers. Sit back in the grass, with a lapful of international munchies, bask in the moonlight, gaze up at the floodlit walls of the Old City a few meters away, and let Israeli pop work its magic.
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