Nearly 2,000 visitors flocked to the eighth annual Western Galilee Now Winter Festival in northern Israel to celebrate the holidays. The festival is organized by Western Galilee Now (WGN), which is a grassroots tourism organization that is comprised of local artisans, winemakers, tour guides, chefs, musicians, cheese makers and more.“Although I am Muslim, I love to host our annual Christmas dinner for all my Jewish, Christian and Muslim friends and guests of the festival. For me, Christmas is about the winter atmosphere and celebrating the season together around the table,” Alaa Sweitat, owner of Aluma Galilean Bistro in Tarshiha, which was decorated for the festival, said in a WGN statement. The three-day festival hosted more than 30 events and served as a showcase for the culture of the western Galilee region. TamaraHindi, a pharmacy that specializes in Indian medicine, offered a workshop in herbal remedies for the common cold, which is prominent during the winter. There was also a class in which children learned how to make chocolate. Visitors also got to taste local wines and food.Johnny Stern, who owns a vineyard on Kibbutz Tuval, hosted his legendary six-course dinner complete with wine pairings. “This is such a warm and inviting part of Israel, and our success is because each of us make sure that everyone who comes to the Galilee feels at home," Stern told WGN. “Last year at this time, I had a tour with five people, and now I could have had five more tours if I was more than one person,” Dor Pintel, a tour operator and member of WGN for two years, said in the WGN statement. “This is another way to show other Israelis a different side of Israeli society. Here, you can drive just two hours to experience the same spirit that you would see if you flew to Europe.”The stories of both Christmas and Hanukkah – the dates of which coincided this year – both take place in Israel, giving the winter festival an extra bit of holiday spirit.