Independence Day is set to be chock full of food, drink and music. For the big "five-nine" there is much planned for just about everyone in your Zionist family. The festivities begin on Monday the 23rd, Independence Day eve. Fresh off the mourning tip there is no time to play catch up. It might be best to ease into a hard night of partying with some good food - which, on this day, usually means copious amounts of meat.
The newly opened Burgus Bar (96 Yigal Alon, 03-561-6333) is an American-style diner catering to the gluttony tooth. Bring three of your friends along because this place offers a special deal for four that includes onion rings, chicken wings, French fries, green salad, four burgers and four beers for the all-inclusive price of NIS 199. For your dining pleasure, cult Israeli films will be screened on plasma screen TVs.
Head to the Ingrid Resto-Bar (9 Hamasger, 03-688-0022) for your fair share of beef, straight from the Golan Heights. With various cuts such as New York Strip Steak, Porter House and T-Bone, call ahead to reserve a space and a steak because supplies are limited.
Continuing from Independence Day eve through nearly the entire course of the holiday is the Bugsy Bistro-Bar's (26 Florentine, 03-681-3138) falafel-themed menu. Accompanying these fried, round delicacies of leek, goat's cheese and eggplant and Parmesan are back-to-back DJ's playing sets exclusively of Israeli music spanning the country's entire, albeit brief, history.
What is a country if not a glorious melting pot? Well, while you are chewing that one over, it is worth your while to take your empty stomach to Hevesh (2 Allenby, 077-210-0181), a relatively new Ethiopian restaurant on Tel Aviv's beachfront promenade. In addition to kosher cuisine, there will be live music by the in-house band.
"Thank God, the Brits are back!" is the theme at Jeff (1 Tchernikofsky), the British-owned and operated eatery - because after all, if you do not remember your history, you might just be doomed to repeat it. The cornucopia of flavor here will be served up to a celebration of British pop.
Barzilay club (13 Harehev) is on the same vein with a three-phase party in the works featuring three UK imports - Rob Random, Ctrl Z and MC Skepta. Set to begin at midnight on Monday night, Barzilay hopes to placate the Israeli masses for the lost European passport, a salary in pounds and footballers who play for keeps - although it will cost you NIS 90 (or NIS 70 in advance, 052-671-5775) and you had better be 22 or older, otherwise keep reading...
Going a bit more exclusive is the Zappa Club (24 Raul Wallenberg, Ramat Hahayal) with a four-DJ lineup and an hour-long cocktail hour for reserved guests only. Set to begin at 12:30 a.m., Monday night, D Groovy, Udi Ben-Canaan, Spacecat and B Wicked will be tearing it up all night long. NIS 100 gets you in but call either Shai (050-720-3022) or Nitzan (050-842-6345) to reserve a discounted ticket for NIS 60 and secure your space on that coveted cocktail list.
For the alternative types there is the momentous combination of PAG, Electropanika, 1984 and Notorious GAY for what will surely be an event to secure your patriotic leanings until Israel hits 60. Heading back to their roots, this party goes down at the Comfort 13 club (13 Comfort) where 20 DJs spread out over four floors will keep the night's soundtrack all over the place with 80's music, R&B, hip-hop, electro, techno and new rave. Also scheduled to perform is Flowers of Jerusalem, a religious boy band. Beginning Monday night at midnight, entrance is set for NIS 60-80.
The Israeli rock band Habiluim is playing Levontin 7 (7 Levontin, 03-560-5084) from 10 p.m., Monday. Tickets are NIS 70 or NIS 60 purchased in advance, which will buy you not just the concert and not just entrance into one of the hippest venues in Tel Aviv but also a night full of the smooth DJ-stylings of Moran Paz.
No night in Tel Aviv is complete without a rooftop party on the Southern side. At 11 p.m. head on down to 5 Kalisher, fork over NIS 35 and go on up for the view, DJs and schmoozing.
Of course, if you want to head over to Tel Aviv's Yarkon Park, you might be in for an interesting surprise. Arcady Gaydamak, the Russian-born billionaire who may or may not be running for this country's top spot when elections next hit, is throwing just about one of the biggest block-parties Israel has ever seen. Starting noon Tuesday for families, it will continue on through 11 p.m. With at least 200,000 people expected to attend, food and drinks will be available for a nominal fee, and the proceeds earmarked for a charity of some sort. If you are a kid, expect a free Popsicle. Gaydamak intends to do it up like it is Vegas, baby. The performance line-up is set to include Mashina, Rita and Rami Kleinstein, Sarit Hadad, Ivri Lieder, Eyal Golan and a fireworks display spectacular.
No matter how your night goes, be sure to be awake for the 6 a.m. Tuesday morning start of Haoman 17's (88 Abarbanel, 03-681-8686) Good Morning Israel. This daylong party is scheduled to run until midnight, during which the highlight is DJ Steve Lawler, the four-time winner at the DJ Awards in Ibiza and the creator of both the VIVA album series for Ministry of Sound and the Lights Out series for Global Underground. Entrance, which you can make at any time during the day, will cost between NIS 160-180. However, for those of a frugal nature, tickets may be purchased in advance, at a discounted price at both the Sexy Shop (150 Diezengoff) and Krembo Records (18 Sheinken) during the day or at the Evita Bar (31 Yavneh) at night.
If it is nostalgia that you are after, then chances are DJ MosheL and DJ Tamir Yoav of 102 FM will treat you right. The two are combining forces to produce a night of classic rock, both of the foreign and domestic varieties. The set list will feature music from but not limited to, Arik Einstein, Kaveret, Gazoz, The Doors, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane and Otis Redding. Admission is NIS 50, but you have to be on the list to enter - a minor task that is easily remedied by visiting progrock.co.il or sending a text message to 054-4705-992. No music dated past December 31, 1979 will taint your ears at the Zamir Club (34 Allenby) on Tuesday from 10 pm on.
It cannot be all rock and roll, however. Luckily, the Shablul Jazz club (Hangar 13 at the Tel Aviv port, 03-546-1891) has planned Jam Ha'atzma'ut. With free admission, you do not even have to worry about reserving a spot for this open mic night in advance - just show up at 10 p.m. and sign-up. Of course, you can just kick back and enjoy the Tuesday night air with a beverage and tunes.
Alas, the holiday is fleeting and what was not accomplished this year will have to wait for next. No worries - you will surely have plenty of time for digestion, relaxation and detoxification. Then, it is just a matter of anticipation.
The municipalities haven't forgotten their obligations this year and will be setting up the traditional city square and neighborhood stage free performances. Tel Aviv city hall organizes a community sing on Rabin Square with Einat Saruff, Yehoram Gaon, Sarale Sharon, an orchestra and plenty of youth groups, starting at 10 and continuing on into the wee hours. Not far away, at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center, everyone is invited to folk dance 'til dawn, starting at 11 p.m., with free kids' shows starting at 8:45 p.m.
A bit gurther south, Jaffa's Davidoff Park hosts Sarit Hadad, A Star is Born 4 stars, rapper Avi Mesika and others, starting at 9. And over at Park Darom, Yizhar Cohen and Avihu Medina headline what is usually a Mizrachi stage, also from 9 p.m.
Haifa has termed this year's festivities "Independence Day for the Young," and, for the fourth year in a row, is spreading concerts and performances around the city in an effort to involve as many residents as possible. Starting from 8:30 p.m., performances will take place on stages specially set up in Kiryat Shprintzak, Neveh Sha'anan, Kiryat Haim, Kiryat Shmuel and several other sites.
At 9:30 p.m., the city will launch a massive fireworks display from four sites: the beach next to Maxim's restaurant; the Carmel Center auditorium roof; the Sportek in Neveh Sha'anan, and the Science Museum in the Hadar neighborhood. And at 10 p.m., Aviv Geffen will perform for the first time at the city's sports center in Romema.
Ramat Hasharon is planning a massive celebration for all ages and is setting up seven stages around the city for performances. The festivities will begin with "Independence Day for Little Folk," which starts at 8:15 p.m. on Sderot Bialik and features children's entertainer Sharon Tsur. Then the city puts on a fireworks display at 9 p.m., to be followed by "Independence Day for Children," with local dance groups, children's performer Hadas Moreno and a disco party for elementary school children.
At 10:30 p.m., there's a repeat fireworks display, and then at 11 p.m., the Stage for Youth in the city center leaps into action, with performances by veteran entertainer Tzvika Pik, Shorty, DJ Asterix and others on the bill.
Ra'anana is setting up four stages at various places inside the park, and, for the first time, another in the city center (at Yad Lebanim). Festivities kick off at 8:30 p.m., with performances on the main stage and the children's stage in the park. On the main stage, local dance schools and rhythmic group Trararam performs, to be followed by the versatile Tzvika Pik and ethnic singer Mosh Ben Ari. On the children's stage, local groups Pninei Hasharon and Efrohei Ra'anana perform, as will children's entertainers Efrat Boimwald and Roi Bar Natan.
At 9:30 p.m., the stage at Yad Lebanim swings into action, with folk songs and Israeli dancing, and at 10 p.m., the musical stage in the park strikes up with a mass dance party. And when all the older and younger folk have had enough and gone home, at 1 a.m. the youth stage in the park does its thing, with bands such as Sheigetz, Synergia and Infectzia performing. The city is running shuttle buses to and from the park to transport party-goers.
The city continues its celebrations into the next day, when at 5 p.m. the annual massive Dance Parade takes place along Rehov Ahuza, with some 1500 school students dancing their way down the street.
Jerusalem offers popular hip-hop band Hadag Nahash to kick off this year's Independence Day celebrations at Kikar Zion at 9 on Monday evening, followed by appearances from singer Pini Hadad and rock group Gaya and a midnight fireworks display. As always, Safra Square is set for folk dancing and a live museum.
The annual Live Museum event of historical street theater, concerts, and more takes place the next day, Tuesday, in two locations - Kikar Safra and the nearby Russian Compound - beginning at 3 p.m. and culminating in a performance at 7:30 p.m. This year the theme is the 40th anniversary of the city's reunification. Historical figures and tableaus of Jerusalem from 1867 under the Ottoman Empire, through the British, independence, 1967 and the city expansion onward will be presented. As every year, admission is free.
With contributions by Miriam Bulwar David-Hay.