Jerusalem Light Festival

The festival, which has already begun and will continue until July 4, is a celebration of spreading the light, overcoming obstacles and bringing people together.

Jerusalem Light Festival (photo credit: JERUSALEM LIGHT FESTIVAL)
Jerusalem Light Festival
Over the years, the Jerusalem Light Festival has become known as one of the most impressive and enjoyable events that take place in the capital every summer. Every night during the festival, amazing modern light art installations illuminate the walls and sites inside and around the Old City.
The festival, which has already begun and will continue until July 4, is a celebration of spreading the light, overcoming obstacles and bringing people together. A record-breaking number of light artists from overseas will be participating in the 11th International Light Festival in Jerusalem, hailing from India, the US, Brazil, Serbia and many other locales around the world. Entrance to all the exhibits is, of course, free of charge.
Just as Israelis increasingly enjoy traveling abroad during Christmas time to enjoy traditional light festivals, the number of Israelis and foreign tourists flocking to Jerusalem’s Light Festival is also steadily growing each year.
During the festival nights, the streets and alleyways of the Old City are packed with people enjoying the beautiful creations. VJs (Visual Jockeys) take their activity outdoors and put on a lively multisensory party for all the festival participants to enjoy. Under the direction of Merav Eitan and Gaston Tzohar, over 30 light artists will be displaying their artistic and technological creations.
It’s wonderful to enjoy this cultural initiative organized by the Jerusalem Municipality, and take a break from the daily politically charged world we live in.
The motif of this year’s festival is “Spreading the Light,” and its aim is to encourage friendships between the various cultural and religious communities in Israel and promote unity. Regardless of whether you’re Ashkenazi or Sephardic, Jewish or Arab, male or female, rich or poor – we are all on this planet; we might as well learn to live together. One of the roles of the municipality is to bring everyone together to enjoy the beauty of this special light festival and break out of our regular routines.
Light artists will be displaying their new light installations and technologies every night along three tracks located in different parts of the Old City that connect with each other. As participants walk along the paths, they will enjoy a multisensory blend of sounds of lights created by the talented VJs.
The VJs know how to combine different styles, colors and sounds to create hypnotic live performances on the walls of the Old City. Every evening, VJ Ari Dikier (Poland), VJ Alstroyan (Brazil), VJ EPS (Russia), VJ Sveta Rainish (Ukraine) and VJ Tzhawesi Mashram (India) will perform near the Jaffa Gate.
Impressive displays include:
• An interactive screening that translates the movement of people in the audience into an abstract light images
• 15 cinematic light columns that break down as visitors walk through them
• 25 rotating interactive saws created by RAW Design in collaboration with Atomic3, from Montreal
• The Morristan Fountain
• The Mirror, created by Gil Teichman, in which thousands of mirrors and intersecting rays of light and millions of reflections shine off of an illuminated disco ball placed in the center
• Miniature machines and optical models of laboratory equipment, electrical appliances and equipment that travel at different speeds and create a mesmerizing story of light and shade in Zedekiah’s Cave
• A 10-meter high structure that showcases the diversity of the Old City
• An interactive display in which visitors can play the piano and see how sound is turned into light
• A solar light installation with thousands of jars connected to rechargeable light bulbs that are used around the world
• Seven-meter tall sculptures that turn into fireworks every night
• A screening of the words “Jerusalem Light” on the wall of the Old City in which Hebrew and Arabic letters have been combined.
Jerusalem Light Festival. (Credit: JERUSALEM LIGHT FESTIVAL)Jerusalem Light Festival. (Credit: JERUSALEM LIGHT FESTIVAL)
THE BLUE Route, which circumvents the Old City walls, begins at Tzahal Square, continues down toward Jaffa Gate, passes by Habonim Park and then goes on toward Zion Gate and the Dung Gate. The Red Route begins at Jaffa Gate, descends through the Arab shuk and passes by the Morristan Fountain and the Christian Quarter. The Green Route starts at Tzahal Square and then continues past Damascus Gate and finally reaches Zedekiah’s Cave.
There will also be drink and food stalls where you can purchase refreshments. Granted, Jerusalem weather is relatively cooler than other places around the country, but it is still summertime, so don’t forget to keep hydrated.
If you’re interested in joining a guided tour, for NIS 30 you can join a group that will be treated to scores of fascinating stories about Jerusalem. Guided tours will take place every day of the festival except Friday and Saturday, from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets can be purchased on the festival’s website.
It’s important to note that the entrance of the Old City will be closed to vehicles from 8 p.m. each evening, so if you’ll be coming by car, I highly recommend taking advantage of the free Park-n-Ride services and leaving your car at Teddy Stadium, the First Station or the Shmuel Beit parking. The municipality recommends that visitors planning to use the light rail purchase their tickets ahead of time in order to prevent delays (the light rail will run until midnight).
IF YOU’D like to turn your visit to the Light Festival into a mini-vacation and stay overnight in Jerusalem, a number of hotels are offering special benefits during the week of the festival, such as free meals, children stay for free, or 50% off a second night.
The Light Festival will continue through July 4 and will operate each evening from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. (except for Friday night). Saturday night hours are 9 p.m. to midnight. The festival’s website address is:
If you’re already in Jerusalem, you might be interested to know that the Bible Lands Museum is offering special programming for children during the summer vacation. There will be interactive stations that offer visitors of all ages an exciting experiential visit. For example, guests can engrave coins, try to roll up an ancient stamp, make a giant mosaic puzzle, build a pyramid and draw on a jug.
In addition, during the month of August, the museum will be transformed into a school for magicians and wizards. Visitors can join a guided tour led by a wizard, in which they’ll participate in workshops that will train them to make potions and talismans, concoct spells and smuggle out demons.
Location: Bible Lands Museum, 21 Shmuel Stephan Wise St. Jerusalem
Price: Adults, NIS 44; children under 18, NIS 22
Translated by Hannah Hochner.