What do singer Boaz Sharabi, world-music group the Idan Raichel Project and singer-songwriter Keren Peles have in common? They're all featured on the A-list line-up of this year's Wine Festival in Rishon Lezion between October 9 and 14.
While it's a wine festival in name, the event is in fact more about music and other forms of entertainment. "Once upon a time, some 100 years ago, all the workers of the different wineries would come to Rishon Lezion to celebrate Succot together," says Doron Milberg, a municipality official. "We've rejuvenated this tradition and have put together a festival celebrating wine as well as culture."
Rishon Lezion is part of one of the biggest wine-producing regions in the country, and festival-goers will have the opportunity to taste some of the area's finest bouquets.
Milberg has produced the festival for 18 of its 19 years, and says tens of thousands of bottles of wine are typically sold during each year's event. "The festival hasn't really changed over the years," he says. "Our concept has always been a festival for the whole family, and that's what it is. The line-up is very diverse. This is a mainstream festival for the entire family."
Today the festival provides one of Rishon Lezion's biggest celebrations. And while there's definitely wine on display, visitors can also enjoy a jam-packed bill of comedy, music and theatrical arts.
A multi-disciplinary collaboration between music group Ethnix and performance group TaRaRam will enjoy its premiere at the festival. Festival organizers say music will play a central role in the festival and have organized a concert for nearly every age group. From Greek tunes to Israeli rock to traditional Jewish music, the roster includes Rita, Boaz Sharabi and the IDF orchestra, Shlomi Shabat and Pablo Rosenberg, Din Din Aviv, Daniel Salomon and Greek singer Nadia Karagianni.
A number of stages will be erected throughout the city during the event. Top stand-up comedians taking part in the fun include Rami Vered, Nadav Abukasis and Yakov Cohen.
More than 300,000 people attended last year's Wine Festival, and organizers say they expect a bigger crowd this year. Tickets to the festival cost between NIS 50 and 150.