Old City to shine during third annual light festival

Muslim Quarter included for first time in NIS 7 million June event; 200,000 tourists came to last year's light festival.

Jerusalem lights 311 (photo credit: Lucio Carretero)
Jerusalem lights 311
(photo credit: Lucio Carretero)
For a week in June, the Old City’s dark alleyways will be transformed. Art installations bursting with light, and 3D movies splayed across the city’s ancient walls and buildings, will sparkle during the third annual Jerusalem Festival of Light, which will take place from June 15 – 22.
More than 200,000 people visited the light show last summer, crowding the streets in and out of the Old City until midnight. This year’s festival will feature installations by artists from around the world, including Portugal, France, Germany, the US and Holland.
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The week-long festival – which is a joint effort by the Jerusalem Municipality, the Prime Minister’s Office, the semi-public Ariel Company and the Jerusalem Development Authority – costs NIS 7 million to produce, part of which is covered by sponsors.
“The light festival is a good example of ways to use the beauty of Jerusalem,” said Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
“The artists can mix between emotions and history to compliment different sites within the Old City,” he noted.
“The festival will awaken tourism inside of Jerusalem and encourage people to come to places they wouldn’t normally go to, like east Jerusalem, where there are beautiful places,” said the chairman of the Jerusalem Development Authority Moshe Leon.
This is the first year that the light festival will include installations on Rehov Hagay, the main commercial street leading from Damascus Gate into the Muslim Quarter. Leon said the authority had the full cooperation of the Arab merchants along the road, who were enthusiastic about the influx of tourists.
Organizers said that the haredi community, which has protested every other festival in the Old City this year – including the Opera Festival, the Chorale Festival and the Festival of Tastes – has not yet raised any objections to the Festival of Light.
In previous instances, Haredi city councilors objected to the municipality’s sponsorship of festivals with unkosher food or festivals with performances in churches.
There are, however, still a few weeks for protests to emerge.
“If we don’t have conflicts, then it won’t be a festival,” Leon told The Jerusalem Post.
The event is open to the public free of charge, except for performances by Circus Y, a group that will perform acrobatics on the Old City Walls.
More information about the festival, including maps, is available on the festival’s website in English: http://en.lightinjerusalem.org.il/2011/.