Israel's Green Festival is back - here's how you can experience it

The Green Festival will take place over three weekends between March 10 and 26.

 STOP OFF at a winery for a twist of burgundy to add to all that green. (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
STOP OFF at a winery for a twist of burgundy to add to all that green.
(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)

Bright blossoms are covering the ground in southern Israel, which means it’s the time of year to celebrate the Green Festival. If you decided not to make a trip down South for Darom Adom due to the huge crowds and heavy traffic, then this festival is for you. 

The Green Festival will take place over three weekends between March 10 and 26. Following all of the rain we’ve had the last couple months, the area has turned beautifully green, and there are so many attractions open for business. There will be fruit and vegetable open-air markets, workshops, tours and self-picking of fruits and vegetables. Below, you will find a few of the best options available.

1. One Moroccan Woman

Yamit Armbrister and tour guide Lior Hochberg will lead you on a tour of Kiryat Gat that follows the story of Armbrister’s latest book, One Moroccan Woman.

Armbrister returned two years ago to her hometown of Kiryat Gat after living in the US for 20 years. Like many others before her, she traveled across the world for love, but her yearning for family, familiar tastes and people who speak her mother tongue was too strong. Some of her fondest memories from childhood were of the time she spent with her grandparents, who themselves had made aliyah from Morocco.

 One Moroccan Woman (credit: MEITAL SHARABI) One Moroccan Woman (credit: MEITAL SHARABI)

Wanting to know more about what life was like for them in their early years as immigrants, Armbrister sat down with her grandmother and listened as she told her life story. Afterward, Armbrister put pen to paper and the result was the book One Moroccan Woman.

Years later, following the death of her brother, Armbrister decided to return to Israel. She approached Hochberg with a proposal that they collaborate to create a tour that tells Armbrister’s grandmother’s story, with an optimistic outlook for a better future. 

The tour of Kiryat Gat begins at the city’s commercial center, where participants will hear about the vision of the city’s founders. Along the way there will be food tastings (fricassee, spices, juices and Bukharan pastries), as well as a visit to view archaeological remains, and finally a visit to the modern technological park, bringing together the ancient and the contemporary.

Length of tour: 4.5 hours. 

When: Fridays. On March 25, there will be a special tour – 9 a.m-1 p.m. 

Price: NIS 200 per person. 

Details: 072-394-4432.

2. Yeladudes

Inside the Neve Chana Children’s Home in Kiryat Gat, you will find a magical bakery where bread and dreams are created.

Neve Chana is home to 120 children between the ages of six and 18 who have been removed from their homes. These children grow up in small “family units” that include a house mother, a house father and a “shin shin” (teen volunteer who is before army service).

The Yeladudes Bakery was created as an educational program for the children living at Neve Chana.

Yeladudes has acquired quite the reputation, and every Thursday and Friday lots of local residents come to the bakery to taste its incredible breads, crackers and cookies which are prepared by the children.

The person who runs the bakery had also lived at the children’s home, arriving there when he was just six years old. Today, he has five children of his own. 

Children who wish to work in the bakery must first ask for recommendations from friends and counselors at Neve Chana. If they are hired, they must clock in and out of work every day, and are paid in accordance with Israeli labor laws. 

Location: 21 Mevo Hahermon, Kiryat Gat.

Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. 

Details: 050-348-0875.

3. Yogev Oil

You can learn everything you ever wanted to know about olive oil at Yogev Oil in Kfar Ahim, where Eli and Ilana Yogev grow lots of different types of olives, including Askal, Coratina, Picholine, Manzanillo and Barneo. Visitors can watch a short film about the family and olive oil production, join a guided tour of the olive grove, see the olive press up close and, of course, taste all the various oils produced at Yogev Oil. 

A number of special events will take place during the Green Festival.

On Friday, March 11, 9:15 a.m.-11:30 a.m., there will be an Israeli folk music sing-along.

On Friday, March 25, 8:15 a.m.-11:30 a.m., nutritionist Nurit Zilberbush will lead a workshop on preparing menus. 

Price: Workshop, NIS 100.

Details: Preregistration required, 052-365-1011.

4. Where to eat?

One of the best spots to stop to dine in the area is Cramim, a gourmet restaurant that was opened about 20 years ago in Moshav Segula.

Chef Sahar Rafael uses local produce, much of which is grown in greenhouses in the moshav. The restaurant also uses olive oil made from olive trees that are located inside the moshav.

Some of its signature dishes include Caesar salad, grilled eggplant, cauliflower salad and fish kebabs.

Location: 70 Ha’ikarim Street, Moshav Segula.

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-midnight.

Details: (08) 850-5859.

5. Where to sleep?

It’s worth coming to the area just to be able to stay the night at Dream Island, a new hotel that opened in 2019. Like many other hotels, it was closed for most of the last two years due to the pandemic, but is now open. Located next to Kibbutz Sde Yoav, Dream Island hosts overnight or day guests (from the age of 14). 

The hotel offers 26 suites, each of which has its own private swimming pool or jacuzzi. The nearby spa has 15 treatment rooms, a watsu pool, a hammam, and dry and wet saunas. 

The spa is spread out over 1,500 square meters, and includes waterfalls, hot and cold indoor and outdoor pools.

There are two restaurants on the premises: Armonim, a meat restaurant; and Terra, which serves breakfast. Guests are invited to take part in wine tasting workshops on site, or visit in the Bedouin tent, where authentic refreshments are served. 

Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 

Details: (08) 670-5600.

Translated by Hannah Hochner.