When you want some boom

Winter's behind us and spring time has brought with it Pessah, meaning quality time with the family, indigestion and, of course, Boombamela - the biggest music festival in the Middle East. More or less the local equivalent to Britain's Glastonbury Festival. This is where you can get back to nature, procure free love and, yes, enjoy psychedelic-induced memory-loss. At Boombamela, hoewever, the green, English countryside is swapped for the dunes of Nitzanim Beach, sand instead of mud and, most important, sunshine instead of rain. Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock know what I'm talking about. From its modest beginnings ten years ago, Boombamela is expected to attract 30,000 revelers next weekend (24 to 26 April). The three days boast 350 performances on seven stages spanning hip-hop, reggae, salsa and even DJs spinning dance on the ICQ Beat stage. Treading the main stage on Thursday night will be Israeli heavy rockers, HaYehudim, followed by Aviv Geffen. Friday night sees local reggae band, Hatikva 6, taking to the stage as well as a solo performance from Mosh Ben Ari, lead singer with Israeli world music ensemble, Sheva, before the headliner, Tal Freedman comes on. Those who like their metal heavy should head to the Koltura rock stage to catch Jewish punk from Australia in the shape of Yidcore, as well as home-grown Hebrew indie-rock from HaSukariyot and Sharon Holzman. Those looking for a more low-key festival experience away from the thronging crowds, can find their space at the cabaret stage or Holistic Village where theater, art and alternative therapies are on offer, or, alternatively, just top up their suntan by the sea shore. Boombamela also aims to be family-friendly and there is ample entertainment for children including beach games, story-telling and sandcastle competitions. Parents can take a break at the sauna or meditation tent. If the pulsating psy-trance keeping you awake at four in the morning is enough to make you forget it's still Pessah, then there's the Kfar Tefilla, or Prayer Village, run by disciples of the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. The festival-within-a-festival will be offering kosher for Passover food, prayers and religious music including performances from Acheret Hayamim amongst others. "You can be high and still be Jewish too," says Mikael Golem who has been organizing the Kfar Tefilla at Boombamela since 2000. "We take out the Torah scrolls and go around the festival with them so people can touch them. One time we did a march with the Torah scrolls and three girls in bikinis came up to us and sang 'Anachnu Yehudim, anachnu Yehudim!' [We are Jews!]. Then we took the Torah to the trance dome, they put on [the Jewish song] 'Moshiah Now' and everyone sang and danced," Golem says, adding that it's not just secular Israelis that they're reaching out to. He stresses, "It's important that the religious world comes here to understand too. This is how we can get connected, we're all one people." Boombamela runs from Thursday to Saturday, 24 to 26 April, at Nitzanim Beach. Entrance is NIS 190 or NIS 140 with 280 Isracart stars. Family tickets are available for NIS 250 or half price if purchased in advance. For more information and advance ticket sales either visit boombamela.co.il or call (052) 999-1005.