Lantern tour of Moa (photo credit: ESTI HIRSCH)
Lantern tour of Moa
(photo credit: ESTI HIRSCH)

Tour Israel: Visit the Negev's Desert Nights Music Festival


To walk along the road David Ben-Gurion walked upon every morning; to join a sunrise yoga class; to explore the life of novelist Amos Oz; to learn how to cook traditional Gazan cuisine; to get to know the city of Yeruham inside and out.

These are just a few of the options available to visitors who will be traveling south to the Negev this August for the Desert Nights Music Festival. Most activities are subsidized and cost NIS 20.

Israel’s best place to escape to in August is the Negev, since the desert air is dry and cool at night; plus this is the ideal location for stargazing, as there is very little air pollution in the area.

The Desert Nights Music Festival will take place in five locations around the Negev, each one with its own unique character: The Northern Negev; Beersheba and its environs; Har Hanegev; Road 90 from the Dead Sea and south to the Arava; and Kesem Hamidbar, a Bedouin experience. The festival is organized by the Tourism Department of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Ministry of the Negev, Galilee, and National Resilience. Below, you will find a short list of some of the most exciting events that will be taking place as part of the festival.

1. Nocturnal Ben-Gurion March

For the second year, the Nocturnal Ben-Gurion March will be the opening event of the annual Desert Nights Music Festival, which will also serve as the inaugural opening of Midreshet Ben-Gurion’s new promenade. The march will begin in the afternoon and continue on into the night, when the air is nice and cool. March participants can choose from two tracks. The first one, known as the sunset track, is a 2 km. circular trail that is perfect for families with small children. The second one, known as the full moon track, is appropriate for families with older kids.

Both tracks will take you along the new promenade that was recently opened to the public. It retraces the steps that Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, took every morning between Kibbutz Sde Boker and Midreshet Ben-Gurion. At a number of stations along the promenade, there will be activities for kids and adolescents, such as riddles, jugglers, bird-watching stations, actors dressed up as popular characters, RD&D content related to Ben-Gurion, storytelling, music, a telescope for viewing the sun during daylight hours, and a Bedouin tent where you can buy fresh pitot, tea, and coffee. 

 Tour of Yeruham with Avichai Hazut (credit: AVISHAI EFRAT)
Tour of Yeruham with Avichai Hazut (credit: AVISHAI EFRAT)

Date: Friday, August 4, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.Location: Midreshet Ben-Gurion

2. A Tale of Love and Darkness

Join a tour in the city of Arad in the footsteps of A Tale of Love and Darkness, the memoir by renowned Israeli author Amos Oz, who was a professor of Hebrew literature at Ben-Gurion University and lived in the Negev for three decades. The tour is led by storyteller Zach Ben-Natan, who will lead participants down the street from the house where Oz lived to the bench at the end of Nof Street, and regale them with anecdotes in an attempt to explain what sets Arad apart from other development towns in the Negev. Participants will have a chance to experience what drew Oz to Arad, and how the desert landscape influenced his works. 

Date: August 10, from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

3. Pick organic grapes

The public is invited to join a fun outdoor experience in the Toshia Vineyard at Beit Milka in Ramat Hanegev. Participants will join the group at the break of dawn to pick organic grapes.

Dates: August 4, 11, 18 & 25, from 8 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

4. Cooking with Juliette

Join a cooking workshop with Juliette in Beersheba, during which you will learn to prepare dishes from Gazan Bedouin cuisine. Juliette tells participants her fascinating life story and what it’s like to be a woman in Bedouin culture.

Dates: August 6 &10, from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

5. Tour of Yeruham with Avichai Hazut

Avichai Hazut, a third-generation Yeruham resident, left town like many of his peers, “the first moment he could get away.” A few years ago, however, he chose to return home to Yeruham and become an active member of the community. He currently leads urban-cultural tours, where he offers participants snippets of what it was like to live there in the early days of the State of Israel, as well as performing some traditional Middle Eastern music that he plays on an oud. He talks about how Jews who arrived on aliyah from Morrocco and other Arab countries were taken to desert towns, despite their requests to live in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa. Currently, new industries are being launched in Yeruham, such as a national drone landing strip, the construction of satellites, and a whole host of tourist ventures. 

Dates: August 10, 17, & 24, from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

6. Sunrise yoga at Timna Park

Just before the scorching month of August ends, the public is invited to join Sunrise Yoga at Timna Park, surrounded by the stunning desert landscape and the serene atmosphere, which enhance the connection between mind and body. As the golden sun rises, the flowing movements and deep breaths bring a sense of calmness and renewal, creating a perfect start to the day. The session is suitable for both beginners and advanced yoga students, allowing everyone to begin their morning with physical and spiritual health. After the yoga session, Timna Cafe will be open, so coffee enthusiasts can recharge as well.

Date: August 25, from 5:30 a.m. – 6:30 a.m.Ages: 15 and over

7. Music Tour in Sderot

Teapacks, Knessiat HaSechel, Sfatayim, and Haim Oliel are just some of the popular Israeli bands and singers who began their musical career playing on the streets of Sderot. Evidently this southern city is a great starting point from which one can launch a successful career in music. 

Date: August 17, from 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.; and 8 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

8. Lantern Tour of Moa

Join a fascinating night tour at the ancient Nabatean caravanserais (roadside inns) of Moa. Participants will listen to informative explanations about this beautiful archaeological site, where remains from three historical periods (Nabatean, Roman, and Arab) have been uncovered. However, it is mostly known as a Nabatean fortress situated along the famous Spice Route, which stretches from the Arabian Peninsula to the Mediterranean Sea. In 2005, it received official recognition by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Dates: August 23 & 24, from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.Details:

Translated by Hannah Hochner. 

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