Ushering in autumn with the Ma’ayanot Festival

Hama'ayanot Park (photo credit: ASHHAR BETZER)
Hama'ayanot Park
(photo credit: ASHHAR BETZER)
One of the fall holidays’ most anticipated happenings is the Ma’ayanot Festival, which incorporates nature hikes, cultural events and musical performances. This year’s festival, which will be marking Israel’s 70th birthday, will begin September 22 and continue throughout the Sukkot holiday.
Some of the concerts (which require an entrance fee) will be performed by veteran singers like Yehoram Gaon, Ilanit, Shlomit Aharon, Haim Moshe, Rinat Emanuel, Liron Lev and Uri Banai, to name a few.
A number of younger musicians will also be performing, such as Amir Dadon and Natan Goshen.
The “Local Table, Food and People” event will kick off the festivities on September 16. At a secret location that will be publicized only 48 hours before the event, four different dishes will be prepared by local chefs.
Hama’ayanot Park
There is one other fantastic reason to come to Emek Hama’ayanot during Sukkot and throughout the year: Hama’ayanot Park, which is home to three springs that flow all year long.
There is also Nahal Hakibbutzim, one of the most gorgeous areas within Hama’ayanot Park. The stream slowly flows down Mount Gilboa towards the valley. As you walk along the 1.5-km. trail, you’ll find a number of pools with cool water where you can stop to take a dip. The trail begins at Ein Migdal, one of the largest springs in the park. The upper part of the stream has been declared an official nature reserve, which has helped improve the quality of life of local wildlife, including a number of unique bird species that live in the region.
The area around Nahal Hakibbutzim is a very popular nesting place for local birds. This is a great place to go for a water hike in a stream with the whole family. Just be vigilant because there are sections of the stream that are very deep. One of the most fun activities on this hike is to play on the large concrete water pipes, where children can swim and have a great time. The authorities have recently carried out extensive landscaping and infrastructure development in the area, and there are now wooden bridges, paved paths and new passages that make visiting the stream much more enjoyable.
Another great attraction at Hama’ayanot Park is the Wet Trail, which was established by Kibbutz Merav members in memory of Zvika Kaplan, an IDF officer who was killed during Operation Protective Edge. The enchanting trail passes by a number of small pools and a new flour mill.
The nearby stream flows from water whose source is Ein Hashokek. The 300-meter trail is accessible for people of all ages and the water in the stream reaches a height of 30 cm.
There are wooden benches near the entrance of the stream, as well as a small bridge.
The festival offers dozens of exciting activities, some of which will take place in Hama’ayanot Park, and others nearby in the region. Here a few highlights: At Kibbutz Ma’aleh Gilboa you’ll find the wind turbines that were constructed by Shlomo Shmeltzer. The 14 impressive turbines will be open for viewing by anyone who’s interested to see the new structure that promotes renewable energy sources. If you’ve traveled through the Gilboa region recently, you’ve surely noticed these 75-meter-tall wind turbines.
During Sukkot there will be guided tours of the site, where you can watch a short film about renewable solar energy and learn where the energy is stored.
Tours will take place on the intermediate days of Sukkot from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
NIS 20-25.
Reservations and details:; 052-811-4645.
Birdwatching Center
The International Birdwatching Center at Kibbutz Kfar Ruppin is inviting the public to join early morning tours to see the migrating birds that stop for short visits in Emek Hama’ayanot. Sukkot this year falls exactly in the middle of the migration season for storks, kites and pelicans. And of course, you can also view the herons and kingfishers that live in the area all year round. The tours will pass through the new birdwatching center, where you can see whether the dates on the trees are ripe enough and ready for eating. From that spot, you can also see all the way to the Jordanian border. And if you’re a night owl, I recommend participating in an evening birdwatching tour where you can watch the migrating birds land in the fields as the sun sets. The group will then walk out into the fields to see the birds in the ponds and watch as lights flicker to life in communities on both sides of the border.
Dates: Morning tours: September 24-27, 29 at 10 a.m. Evening tours: September 25-27 at 4 p.m.
Price: NIS 40 to NIS 60.
Pre-registration required: 050-698-4701.
Organic farming is becoming more and more common in Emek Hama’ayanot and the fields there are blooming with bright colors. Bio-Tour at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu is inviting the public to watch how bumblebees spend their time and learn what role insects play in our lives and whether we should be afraid of predatory insects.
During the intermediate days of Sukkot, BioTour will be offering guided tours during which guests will hear how the kibbutz developed its world-famous organic farming and biological pest-control technology and its barn owl nesting boxes, which are a unique housing project and a natural solution for controlling the rodent population.
Dates: September 25-27, at 10 a.m.
NIS 25 from age 5 and up.
Preregistration is required:
Ethiopian Jewish experience
If you’d like to enrich your holiday with a unique cultural experience, I highly recommend that you visit the Garmachin Visitors’ Center where you’ll be exposed to many fascinating details of Ethiopian Jewish culture. You’ll see traditional Ethiopian dress and hear moving stories about what it was like to live in that community.
Afterwards, visitors will be treated to a traditional coffee ceremony and learn the basic steps of authentic Ethiopian dances.
Ethiopian crafts and food will be for sale on site.
September 25 and 26, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Price: NIS 40.
Details: (04) 653-4432.
More information about the Ma’ayanot Festival can be found at
The opening event of the festival will take place on September 16 at 8 p.m.
NIS 100 per person. Pre-registration required.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.