Music, food and fun

Every Hanukka, city dwellers travel north, attracted by the promise of clean air, verdant landscapes and masses of things to do.

A dozen or so years ago - it seems eons now - theword "festival" conjured up images of something that comes along onlyonce in a while, thus to be savored for a long time. But the countrynow seems to have some festival or other happening every day. Nextweek's Hanukka will offer so much and with so much range, it isdifficult to know where to start. However travelling up north is agreat way to begin.

"The aim of the Kfar Blum Festival is to providea feast of culture," says Michael Melzer, its artistic director. Everytwo weeks, Kfar Blum's Pastoral Hotel holds a specially themed musicalweekend, titled Pastoral in Sound. Numerous bands and artists gather atthe hotel to perform music and more within the boundaries of theselected genre. For next weekend, December 10-12, the topic will beJewish soul. Jewish music of all ethnic groups, Shlomo Carlebachmelodies, Yiddish plays and much more will be performed in the hotelvenues. The hotel chef, Ilan Shlider will serve up a variety ofinternational home cooking - mullet kebab, hrayme, chopped liver,gefilte fish and other "soul food" dishes accompanied by local Galileewines.

For nature lovers, one can choose from a wide variety of guidedtrips and special programs: from short walking tours to jeep tours or anight concert in the magnificent Nimrod Fortress overlooking the valleyto a peaceful afternoon welcoming in the Sabbath at the beautifulKibbutz Yiron winery. For more info visit:

Another great trip to take in the area is the Metulla tour. Thelast time I visited Metulla, I was in the army and stayed at KiryatShmona but wanted to explore the area. I had completely forgotten howbeautiful it was, so maybe I should take this tour. It's a city thatlooks like what I imagine an Alaskan resort to be - small beautifulboutique hotels and adjacent stone wall restaurants. While you'rethere, you can enjoy a fall foliage tour of the region with itsbeautiful rivers and mountains and a focus on the beautiful colors ofthe deciduous trees. The Beit Shalom Hotel offers such a trip includinga great breakfast featuring their terrific homemade cheeses and oliveoil for NIS 80. For more info call (04) 694-0767.

Ifyou decide to stay in the area of the Kinneret, drop by the Flavors ofthe Kinneret festival taking place from December 11-19. The festivalcelebrates the cuisine of the different restaurants near and far witheach offering winter menus of special dishes in addition to uniqueactivities. For example, Ugata at Kibbutz Kinneret, offers a doughnutmaking workshop, the Vered Ha'galil Resort Ranch invites you to a wildwest activity with horseback riding, ending with a cowboy meal at therestaurant and Marinado in Ein Gev hold the Poyke King contest, wheresome of Israel's finest chefs will decide which contestant makes thegreatest Poyke (preliminary registration is required). For more info on the different restaurants and activities visit:

Take your pick and hit the road.