Darom Adom Anemone Negev festival 311.
(photo credit: Liron Keinan)
From Tu Bishvat to Pessah Israel is in bloom with wildflowers from Dan to
Beersheba, however nowhere is this celebration of spring more enchanting than on
the desert fringe. The northwestern Negev is blanketed in red anemones
throughout February, a phenomenon which has inspired the “Darom Adom” (Red
South) Anemone Festival.
Organized by the Association for Tourism of
Shikma-Besor for the past six years, the festival welcomes the entire country
every weekend for the month to access the contrast of the extensive flowering of
this desert region. Just as the season, the events of the festival inspire
elements of fantasy, nostalgia and excitement.
Spring is a time to
appreciate the enchantment of nature all but forgotten during the winter chill.
Start your day under the rays of the sun among the wildflowers with a picnic
under the sun in the Re’im picnic spot with an elegant basket of various
cheeses, vegetables and breads from local dairies including the Be’eri Dairy.
During the meal, one may find fanciful characters from the Bible and mythology
emerging out of the woods.
An actor dressed as the Patriarch Abraham
greets contemporary Israelis with an introduction of, “Shalom, I am your Father
Abraham,” and he speaks of the water systems, particularly the construction of
wells, in the Negev from his own time to ours. Peter Pan frolics about the park
defending the anemones from the villainous Captain Hook while teaching children
how to draw water from the local wells. On a sunny day with clear blue skies,
green grass and endless red flowers, the setting certainly can feel like
something out of Neverland.
If the above proves insufficient relaxation,
tents stand in this idyllic setting offering holistic healing options including
a variety of massages and palm readings to integrate the mind, body and spirit,
a virtual portal to the Age of Aquarius.
The region is also filled with
kibbutzim still living in the image of the original pioneer Israeli making the
At Kibbutz Kissufim there are tours of the agricultural
fields to see the remarkable fertility the kibbutzim have yielded and the first
fruits of the year. A local guide speaks about the difficulties of farming the
region and its proximity to Gaza, at one point no further away than one
kilometer from the border.
However, the real treat is that the tour stops
in the fields to provide the tourists a pioneer experience to harvest fruits and
vegetables for themselves.
You get to dig your hands deep in the earth to
burrow out carrots or find sweet tangerines that have dropped from the tree. By
the tangerine grove juicers have been prepared so you can make yourself a cool
refreshing class of juice.
No Israeli pioneering experience could be
complete without the nostalgia the kibbutz cafeteria brings. Once the
heart and soul of the kibbutz movement the majority have fallen
into disuse, but in the Kibbutz Or Haner cafeteria life remains as
in the days of yore. The classic salad platter with the ever-present
of humous is on display alongside the selection of meats; the major
from the traditional Kibbutz is the staff so eager to please.
the fantasy and the nostalgia, the festival also offers options for adventure to
raise the adrenaline levels.
The Association, along with the Jewish
National Fund and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, has been
working in conjunction to maintain the region’s ever expanding bike trails for
the public. Generally the trails offer many different circuit routes so as to
ensure that rides of all levels and all durations remain lovely, leisure rides
through the low hills of the western Negev.
True thrill seekers will jump
at the opportunity to conclude a lovely day in a far too seldom explored corner
of the country with an eagle eye view. Take the adventure to the skies with a
hot-air balloon ride at dusk with the operators at Over Israel.
most boarding an airplane has become a rather mundane experience, or even a
necessary evil for the sake of transportation; the hot air balloon tends to
remind its riders of the miracle of human flight. Loud machines slowly fill the
giant balloon with gas, slowly building the anticipation.
balloon is filled to capacity, a mechanical fire-breathing dragon prepares the
balloon for takeoff. The very mechanics of the process enhance the excitement of
The balloon rises slowly initially, almost levitating,
until the weightlessness is complete and the balloon drifts off into the setting
sun, refracting the light to melt the striking colors enjoyed all day into a
Landing, however, is quite a different experience. The
larger balloons, which can hold more people, must be landed by scraping along
the surface of the earth. The friction slows the balloon down until the basket
is tipped and everyone inside tumbles over onto their sides. Fortunately the
pilots at the helm are skilled, giving very clear instructions to prepare for
Riding over the region proves a lovely coda to a melodic day.
Darom Adom is a fine way to follow up Tu Bishvat, enjoying a festival devoted to
the blooming of wildflowers on the desert fringes.