Tourist Tip #298 / Red Sea Jazz Festival

Eilat’s 27th international jazz festival will open on August 18, but it’s never too early to book.

Granted we’re still in July, but if one is going to go south for a few days, it’s never too early to book. And unless you have an auntie in Eilat with a comfy couch, you’ll need to reserve a place to stay if you want to attend the 27th Red Sea Jazz Festival, either at a hotel or the festival “village” – think campsite.

Scheduled for August 18-21, the annual festival features a wide range of artists – the full list is available on the festival website, at http://www.redseajazzeilat.com/en/programme/ Among the participating international stars this year are Brazilian singer João Bosco, American drummer Al Foster, saxophonist Branford Marsalis as well as Nicholas Payton, with his signature trumpet. Among the local talents are Avishai Cohen, another featured trumpeter, backed by a double-bass and drums, and Tatran, a trio of 20-something Israelis playing instrumental music that ranges from modern jazz to electronic to classical. Israeli singing star Ahinoam Nini will also be treating festival-goers to a special concert.

Where exactly is the festival? “In and around Eilat city and seaport,” advise its organizers, adding that the aim is to bring a “colorful range” of jazz-based styles. The launch will be at Eilat’s Dekel Beach. The concerts begin in evening and last until the middle of the night, leaving people free to cavort in the Red Sea or do whatever they please during the day.

Tickets: You can buy single tickets to any one of the big shows, a day ticket buying you entry to all the shows that day; a 2-day ticket for all shows during two days – or a ticket to the whole shebang. Note ye that tickets bear your name and are personal and non-transferrable.

As for accommodation, Eilat is a resort city and it has a lot of hotels, from luxury ones to more modest affairs. But a bargain they aren’t, certainly not in peak summer season. Another option is to avoid the hotels entirely and take advantage of the “village” – read campground - being set up by the festival organizers at Dekel Beach itself.

The city of Eilat will be in fact closing off Dekel Beach for the purposes of the festival. Campers have to bring their own equipment – tents, sleeping bags, down pillows and so on, but it does offer toilets, showers and restaurants all too happy to serve three meals a day. Don’t want to lug your tent from Uzbekistan? You can rent, if there are any left, the helpful organizers point out.

The beach operates on a first-come, first-served basis and can accommodate up to 300 sleepers a night. In English that means – you do want to reserve a spot (see phone numbers below).

Another feature of Dekel Beach is that this year, it will be hosting jam sessions that had until now been held at hotels, and were accessible only to the hotel guests. This year they’re open to all, say the organizers.

For reservations:

Ortal, the organizing company. When dialing inside Israel, call 1-700-556677. When dialing from abroad, call +972-2-565-9957.

Website for information on the festival: http://www.redseajazzeilat.co

Daniel Tchetchik