The Hamshushalayim Festival: tons of Jerusalem culture to counter the winter chills!

Hamshusalayam, JerusalemUPDATED for 2016!

Israel has its own special charm in winter (and not just for those heading to Eilat for some winter sun or Bethlehem for a taste of Christmas) and if you’re not heading over in this special season you’re really missing out. The Hamshushalayim Festival in Jerusalem, for example, stands out as one of Jerusalem’s, and Israel’s, top winter attractions.

This annual Jerusalem festival goes all out to celebrate some of the very best of Israeli culture. Usually held at the end of November/December, the festival comprises dozens of performances and exhibitions that have something to enthrall everyone. Not to be missed are the many outdoor cultural performances.

The 2016 Hamshushalayim Festival takes place over the following weekends (there are literally hundreds of events to savor over four weekends in Jerusalem):

  • 1-3 December
  • 8-10 December
  • 15-17 December
  • 22-24 December

Those looking to catch some amazing video art will love the amazing AVI Festival (Art Video International) taking place on each weekend (at the Cinema City) with over 40 screens of different sizes presenting video art by local and international artists from all over the world, or you could take a tour of the Old City walls for just 10 shekels a pop (bring your own torch!) every Thursday evening (buy tickets at Jaffa Gate), or perhaps enjoy a celebration of awesome Ethiopian/Israel talent (including the Aretha Franklin of Ethiopian music!) on the third weekend (see And there’s plenty more!

For those who are as fascinated by Israel’s history as its culture, you’ll appreciate the fascinating exhibitions put on by Jerusalem’s many museums (including the must-see Israel Museum, and the impressive home of modern Hebrew, Beit Agnon). Especially for the Festival, museums’ opening hours are usually extended and admission fees may be discounted or even waived (including discounts for the must-see Night Spectacular). This could be the PERFECT opportunity to learn more about the ancient civilizations that once populated this great land and gain an insight into all that Old Testament history.

When you get tired from all the sightseeing, adjourn to one of Jerusalem’s restaurants to enjoy menus showcasing the latest Jewish culinary delights at discounted festival prices.

For a full list of the events happening in this year’s Hamshushalayim Festival, see the official site (couldn’t see anything in English unfortunately).

** For those of you curious – Hamshushalayim is derived from the words of Hamshush (a common army abbreviation for a long weekend – Hamishee (Thursday), ShiShee (Friday), and Shabbat (Saturday)) and Yerushalayim (the Hebrew pronunciation of Jerusalem).

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