Israeli Holidays and Festivals

Israeli holidays are lots of fun, each coming with its own culinary treats. Did you know there is an entire holiday dedicated to cheesecake? And another where everyone makes a full on fancy dress effort, and dancing in the streets goes on till the early hours?
Holidays and Festivals

Israeli holidays follow the Jewish lunar calendar, falling on a different Western date each year, but here is an indicative guide as to what happens when. We have also included a couple of major cultural events.


Tu Bishvat – In Israel the trees get their very own new year celebration, and lots of fresh fruits are eaten.


Purim – this is the dressing up and street parties festival. It is traditional to eat filled triangular shaped cookies called Osnei Haman, and to drink until you no longer recognise the difference between good and evil!


Passover – the Jewish holiday celebrating the exodus from ancient Egypt. Bread is not eaten during this time and it is traditional to eat substitute foods such as sweet almond cookies.


Lag B’omer – the bonfire festival – parties, bonfires and fireworks all over the place!
Remembrance Day & Independence Day – A solemn day, when Israel’s fallen soldiers are commemorated, immediately followed by a day of celebrations, barbeques and picnics to mark Israeli’s independence. An emotional roller coaster!
Fresh Paint Tel Aviv – annual contemporary art festival.


Shavuot – the cheesecake festival – yum!
White Night Tel Aviv – all night partying in Tel Aviv with live music and parties!
Gay Pride Tel Aviv – a colourful extravaganza of gay and straight partying on the beaches and all over town.


Jerusalem Season of Culture – See the other side of Jerusalem with live performances, cultural events, and nocturnal partying at the Mahane Yehuda shuk.

September / October

Rosh Hashana – Jewish new year. It is traditional to eat apple and honey, and honey cake for a sweet new year.
Yom Kippur – the Jewish Day of Atonement, a serious time of contemplation. Quiet and calm replace the usual hustle and bustle. There are no cars on the roads, instead kids take their bicycles out even on the main highways.
Succot – the Jewish festival commemorating 40 years journeying in the desert before arriving in the promised land. It is traditional to sit and eat in outside booths decorated with bright colours and fruits.


Hula Valley Bird Festival – watch 500 million birds escape the European winter and head to Africa.
DLD Tel Aviv – a major annual tech get together, with a large international as well as local contingent. Catch the vibe at Jaffa Port in the evenings.


Chanukah – the Jewish festival of lights commemorating the defeat of the ancient Greeks, and the associated miracle of light. For eight days in the early evening you will see the lighting of Chanukiahs (8 branched candlesticks), to the tune of lively singing. Israelis eat foods cooked in oil such as donuts and potato latkes.

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