Red South Festival in the Negev

Carpets of scarlet anemones welcome visitors throughout the month

Touring the south, children in feild  (photo credit: Courtesy)
Touring the south, children in feild
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Every year in February, a special phenomenon happens in the western Negev. The area is blanketed with red, as many millions of bright red anemones bloom and form a magnificent carpet of color.
Such a wonderful show of nature should not be missed.
Recently a railway station was opened in Sderot, and trains from Tel Aviv will bring nature lovers from the Center to the South each Friday this month, on trains named Rakevet Hakalaniot (“Anemones Train”), running from 8:40 a.m. to 2 p.m. Train tickets entitle holders to board shuttle buses at no extra cost to the activities and hot spots of the Red South Festival. Advance registration at
This is the ninth year of the festival, which started yesterday.
The residents of the western Negev are especially anxious this month to show you their wonderful region. Here is just a taste of what is planned, just an hour’s ride from Tel Aviv: Special activities will take place in the streets of Sderot, as actors portraying heroes and fairies will entertain visitors in the anemone hot spots.
Communities in the region offer farmers markets and accommodations. Kibbutz Alumim has just opened a new visitors’ center that tells the story of settling the area, dating to the time of David Ben-Gurion. This religious kibbutz is one of a few in the area which offer kosher food and nice large rooms for a weekend stay; there are bicycle and walking trails to explore.
Farther south, west of Moshav Tidhar, there is a long dirt road where it is believed that Abraham the Patriarch led his sheep thousands of years ago.
Nowadays, at the end of that road, Na’ama Ranch may be modern, but still raises the same kind of sheep. The ranch offers milking, cheese and pita making, a pet corner and a winter song performance.
Near Kibbutz Lahav you will find the Joe Alon Museum, the only museum in the world depicting the Beduin people and heritage. You can enjoy the forest itself and stop in Shvedron Ranch, where there is a kosher restaurant, Netanel (closed on Saturday).
Here, you can enjoy a warm meal, with a large variety of tasty items – all right in the middle of a serene evergreen forest.
Exploring the area during the Red South Festival can be fulfilling with a car or without. If you are organized, you can accomplish it all over the month of visits: the first weekend, culture based; the second weekend, sport such as marathons, bicycles and walks; the third weekend, food-based; and the last weekend, for the kids, with family shows and sweets all over.
For more details, search the Web for “Darom Adom.”