Biking in the valley.
(photo credit: ASSAF RONNEN)
With the holiday season upon us, there is always plenty of parental head scratching about how to keep the offspring suitably engaged in a fun and safe way and, if possible, for the parents to have a pretty good time as well. Judging by the dozens of festivals, sporting, cultural, entertainment and out- and-about events going on up and down the country, that really shouldn’t be too much of a problem. All you have to do is check your budget, decide how far you want to travel, and get the family on the road or look for something closer to home.
If you live in the north of the country or fancy taking a ride along Route 90, you might want to pop in to the mini festival laid on by the Mirror Theater company in Kiryat Shmona between October 12 and 14. Over the three days, the company will put on a plethora of kiddies’ theatrical fare, along with guest productions from the Gili Ivri and Ayelet Shadmon puppet theater duo (pictured), a Train Theater production and a show by Rutie Tamir. Shows are for children aged three to 10 and their parents.
For tickets and more information: (04) 695-9659 and www.t-mara.co.il.
If you fancy getting down to the valleys, the Jezreel Valley should be able to keep you and your family happy and active with a wide range of bike rides, guided motorized and walking tours, festivals and interesting visitors centers to see. Moshav Sde Ya’acov, for example, has a maze called If You Don’t Go In, You Can’t Come Out, where visitors are invited to enter the nine- dunam labyrinth of natural foliage.
With the help of a map, they have to find their way along the route, encountering specially tailored tales along the way. The maze circuit should take about an hour to 90 minutes, and there are plenty of playing facilities, food and even an overnight accommodation site on offer.
For reservations and more information: (04) 983-0255 and 050-540-4473.
Just a few minutes’ drive across the valley, at Kibbutz Ramat David, easy rider bikers should have plenty of fun without working up too much of a sweat at the Stein Electric Bicycle Trip enterprise. The laid-back, all-family bicycle tour takes in green fields and orchards and lasts about 90 minutes.
For reservations and more information: (04) 650-6785; 052- 831-0492; and www.steinbikes.com.
Nearer the center of the country there is more in the way of pastoral activities on offer in the environs of Modi’in, specifically in and around the Ben-Shemen Forest. You can start with the Harvest Festivities at Neot Kedumim Park, where the family- friendly activity program includes guided tours of the nature reserve, which takes in rolling landscapes and ancient agricultural remains and a fun succa exhibition. There will also be an activity compound, musical entertainment, a jamboree and pet corner.
For more information: (08) 977- 0770 and www.n-k.org.il.
Meanwhile, over at eco-friendly Gilad Farm, members of the public can get down and dirty and join in the olive picking fun, and kids can get in on the action at an olive pickling workshop. And to cap it all, every junior participant will go home with his or her own self-produced jar of pickles.
For more information: www.havatgilad.com.
There is more in the way of olive- related fun and games on offer at the Hashmonaim Village, as well as a guided tour of the village’s succot. The Olive Festival offers children the opportunity to get some olive picking in for themselves and, here too, they can make their own jars of pickled olives. In addition, there is archery, scroll writing, pottery making, learning about herbal remedies and minting Hasmonean-era coins.
For reservations and more information: 054-448-0463 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a Tel Avivian and don’t’ fancy getting out of town or happen to be in the city over the holiday, Beit Hatfutsot in Ramat Aviv is holding its Writers in the Succa event. Children of all ages, and their parents, can catch some entertaining shows based on works by iconic Israeli writers Chaim Nachman Bialik, Leah Goldberg and Miriam Yalan-Shtelkis, presented by actors Smadar and Kobi Abarbanel.
It won’t all be passive fun, as all the members of the family can later get stuck into the challenging Gates and Keys in the Diaspora riddle and try to solve conundrum using specially encoded cards. The kids can also enjoy the “Luck and Blessings” exhibition based on the theme of myths and superstition in contemporary Israeli art, as well as taking part in an art workshop.
For more information: (03) 745-7808 and www.bh.org.il.
There is an abundance of outdoor events and activities for the whole family at the Jerusalem Park. The Birds of Spring site, for example, offers plenty of fun and ornithological derring-do, with some bird ringing.
And there is an intriguing guided tour of the area, where visitors will learn a lot about our feathered friends that inhabit the region at this time of the year.
The Green Succa event at Ha’arazim Valley is sure to help burn up some of that young energy and boost the kids’ environmental awareness, with succa building using recycled bamboo, a fashion show of clothes made of recycled materials and a green story time slot.
Back over to the west, Holon will host the 17th annual Puppet Theater and Movie Festival from October 11 to 16 at the Puppet Theater Center (www.bubot.net).
But if you want to catch an eyeful of something very large and very colorful, head south to Habsor Park where, on October 14 and 15, you will see the exhilarating sight of some 20 hot-air balloons take to the skies. The park also offers fun bike trails, children’s activities and accommodation.
For more information: www.habsor.co.il.