The Haifa Festival of Festivals or Holiday of Holidays - an annual celebration.
Hebrew: חג החגים
What's on in Haifa? Sometimes referred to as the Haifa Festival of Festivals and sometimes the Haifa Holiday of Holidays Festival (HEBREW - חג החגים), this annual event takes place in Haifa in December. Although much needed, we all pray the rain will stay away and the winter weather will be pleasant enough for this unique outdoor event not to be interrupted in any way.
Two weeks of festivities, cultural activities, markets and fun and events celebrate the three monotheistic religions that live in mutual harmony, cooperation, tolerance and respect in Haifa. Jews around the world are celebrating Hannukah, Christians are celebrating Christmas and Moslems are celebrating their holy days. In Haifa, everyone puts their religious and cultural differences aside, and we all get together to enjoy this fun-filled event.
The Festival of Festival was initiated in 1914 by the first Mayor of Haifa - Hassan Shukri. Since then it has grown in size and popularity. This festival hi-lights the unique flavour of Haifa and its residents. Yona Yahav (outgoing Mayor of of Haifa) aptly described the Festival as one "without boundaries of culture and religion. Show up and rejoice".
From 2018 The Festival of Festivals Holiday of Holidays is being held in the German Colony and has moved from the Wadi NisNas neighborhood of Haifa. The German colony is nestled between the Haifa Port and the Bahai Temple, mainly along Ben Gurion Boulevard.
Wad NisNas still remains a quaint place to visit and if you have the patience to stand in a long queue, Felafel Hazkaynim, Felafel Michel and Felafel George have a reputation for the best felafel in Haifa. These 'felafelerias" have been battling for the crown for years They have been featured on Travel-Israel television and culinary programs with Yishai Golan, Yisrael Aharoni and Hila Alpert. Felafel Orion on Hertzliya street serves a great felafel too. If you're into hummus, Abu Shakker, Hummus Abu Marwan are just a few of the very best local 'hummuserias'.
Beit Hageffen on the corner of Allenby and Hatzionut Streets, will be hosting events as well.
-The Rappaport Center at the Haifa Auditorium
-The Tikotin Japanese Museum
-The Studio Theater at Bet Hecht
-The St. Johns Church.
-Haifa Art Museum
-Haifa City Museum
How to get to the festival? By foot, by car, by bus or by taxi:
Walk through Haifa's many alleys and stairways that run from Mount Carmel down to Ben Gurion Boulevard. Starting from Yefe Nof Street in the Central Carmel the Gadera stairs, near the Dan Panorama Hotel,descend the stairs and walk down the mountain to the German Colony. It's a substantial walk to the Festival of Festivals from the Central Carmel. There are hundreds of stairs - don't do this if you have knee problems but it's a wonderful way for you to meander around Haifa, take in the views, see the suburbs and feel the Haifa vibe.
Parking in the German Colony is available but realize that it will be in serious demand during the festival. You might have luck and find a spot in one of the side streets.
Haifa runs a limited bus service on Saturdays so check on the Egged website or apps like Efobus and Moovit.
What you can expect to see at the festival
Ben Gurion Blvd, the center of the festival is flanked on both sides with wonderful restaurants and coffee shops and it is here that the free concerts and street theatre will be taking place.
The Christmas lights are on every evening and when you look up you will also have a fabulous night view of the Bahai Temple.
Bet Hageffen - the Jewish Arab Center hosts numerous performances and exhibitions
You can expect food stalls along Ben Gurion Blvd. selling home made pita, labane, koubbeh, kebabs, zaatar, mejadra and tabbouleh. Sample the delicious home made nougats, peanut brittle, halva and knafeh. For the kids, sticky toffee apples are a must. Hot legumes, corn on the cob and roasted chestnuts are also on sale. A glass of freshly squeezed pomegranate, orange or carrot juice will quench your thirst for about 5 shekels. You can purchase tickets and enjoy a traditional meal in the home of one of the local residents of the mixed neighborhood, Ein Hayam.
Lots of handmade jewelry, items of clothing, cheap toys and other typical flea-market goods are on sale.
Top Festival Tips
- Don't be shy to bargain - it's part of the Middle Eastern culture
- Keep your wallet and mobile phone in a safe place
- Take an umbrella with you
- Wear comfortable shoes - plenty of walking
- Some stalls will take credit cards but not all, so bring plenty of cash
If the weather is fine and you're coming to Haifa for the day, you might want to combine your visit to the Festival with other activities. Haifa's beaches stretch for miles and while it might be too cold for a dip in the ocean a walk along the promenade and newly opened Park Hecht, a selection of cafes and restaurants area great way to relax and enjoy the day. Take in a visit to the Druze Villages or the Haifa Zoological Gardens.
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