Culture on the coast

Formerly known as a city that didn’t have much, except for its beachfront, to draw visitors, Netanya is now undertaking to offer a variety of year-round attractions

Netanya coast 521  (photo credit:
Netanya coast 521
(photo credit:
Netanya’s tidy beaches and pedestrian promenades are already well known. Now Israel’s sixth-largest city is putting great effort into offering a variety of daytime and evening summer events to draw both locals and visitors to this city of 210,000.
Two outstanding recent examples were the International Folklore Festival during which folk dancers from Europe, Japan, Nepal and China wearing national dress performed folk dances and played traditional music. The well-attended event was held in the city’s outdoor amphitheater, located just off Independence Square.
Following this, a Netanya White Night, based on Tel Aviv’s popular annual event, was sponsored jointly by the Netanya municipality and the Culture and Sport Ministry. The nightlong happening included musical bands, dancing, stand-up comedy, theater and movies. While most programs took place in the city center, some were held at beach sites and in Netanya’s Winter Pond Park.
“We offer events for all kinds of people to enjoy – families, young adults and senior citizens too,” says Sharon Galanter, head of the municipality’s events advertising department. “We also want to attract visitors from other parts of Israel, as well as from abroad; which is why we have tried to make these events as varied as possible.”
Formerly known as a city that didn’t have much, except for its beachfront, to draw visitors, Netanya is now undertaking to offer a variety of year-round attractions, including an excellent convention center in the new and ultra-modern Island Hotel located in the upscale South Beach neighborhood.
Long-standing cultural fixtures include the Netanya Symphony Orchestra and its cultural center near Hasharon Shopping Mall. Many of the city’s summer events are held in the amphitheater.
For those who love the beach, sporting events have included beach volleyball tournaments on Sironit Beach (in central Netanya) and “beach football” at the Poleg Beach beachfront.
Upcoming events scheduled for this month include a special entertainment evening in English, French, and Russian for new immigrants on Independence Square (August 11). Another event is a Kosher Food Festival featuring both local and foreign cuisine.
End-of-summer festivities will include a youth party on August 18 in the city’s youth center at Rehov Giborei Yisrael 9 in Ahuzat Poleg. August 19 will feature an Israeli Matkot (beach tennis) Championship at the Sironit Beach. That beach will also be the location for an end-of-summer children’s party on August 25 at 5 p.m., and a youth beach party on the same day at 8 p.m..
To mark the Tisha Be’av fast day, a special evening event, open to the public without charge, is being sponsored by the Tair Crisis Center and the Netanya Municipality at Heichal Hatarbut on August 8 at 8:30 p.m.. The Book of Lamentations will be read and there will be textual study, as well as discussion of how to foster dialogue among various groups.
Special panel discussions will feature topics such as creating unity among the different streams of Jews, and prominent local rabbis will lead discussions on social issues, including sexual mores in today’s society.
The three-day Kosher Food Festival, August 16-18, will be held on the promenade and parking lot at Argaman Beach, near Beit Goldmintz, and will feature booths offering culinary specialties from kosher restaurants all over Israel at special prices.
Admission is free. There will be entertainment for all age groups, children included.
Outdoor lovers can also visit the city’s many parks and green belts, one of the most popular of which is the Winter Pond Park in south Netanya. Even in the hot summer months you’ll see large numbers of people there during the evening hours, picnicking and generally enjoying themselves. The park is truly a “kids’ paradise,” containing a large amount of playground equipment and numerous walking and bike paths.
For the benefit of both local residents and visitors – and especially due to parking problems in town – a special “green bus” shuttle service picks up people on Rehov Herzl, Netanya’s main street, and drops them off at various stops including Hasharon Mall and the pedestrian promenade off Rehov Dizengoff.
A red double-decker tourist bus plies the coastal beach road leading into and out of the city center and offers special tours.
“We want people to know that Netanya offers all kinds of cultural and entertainment events all year round,” the municipality’s Galanter says.
“During Succot, for example, there will be a number of things going on during the festival’s intermediate days. During the rest of the year, our cultural center will be putting on plays, concerts and other events.”
In addition to the staged events, Netanya has several museums worth visiting, including Beit Be’er (Well House) at Rehov Sokolow 17, and the Netanya Museum at Rehov McDonald 3.
Visiting hours and other information about the City of Netanya can be found on the municipality’s website A wealth of information on sites and touring in Netanya, including riding the doubledecker tour bus, can be found by visiting the city’s Tourism Association website at It is available in English, French, Hebrew and Russian.