August in Israel generally brings to mind humidity, foreign travel (or wishful thinking about it) and shopping for school supplies. In Jerusalem, though, the month is also associated with one of the largest and liveliest cultural events of the summer season – the International Arts and Crafts Festival, more commonly known as Hutzot Hayotzer.
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The annual event, which is marking its 38th year, takes place in a valley near the Old City, in three venues: the Hutzot Hayotzer Arts and Crafts Center, the Mitchell Gardens and the Merrill Hassenfeld Amphitheater in an ancient reservoir known as the Sultan’s Pool.
The 12-day festival features open-air concerts by some of Israel’s top rock and pop musicians – like Ehud Banai, Yehudit Ravitz, Matti Caspi and Riki Gal and Berry Sakharof – as well as gospel, Greek, ‘60s, folk and flamenco sounds.
It also brings together the work of diverse local and international artists, showcasing the wares of painters, sculptors, calligraphers, leatherworkers, weavers, embroiderers and silversmiths. Some 200 Israeli artists and artisans are setting up shop this year, as are their colleagues from the U.S., Far East, Europe and Africa.
There’s a children’s compound, where young’uns can watch theater and circus performances and take part in workshops, and an international food fair as well, where visitors can sample ethnic fare as world music plays in the background. Artist encounters, in which creative minds from the Hutzot Hayotzer artists’ colony host their peers for discussions, are also on the agenda.
If all this doesn’t get your mind off the dog days of summer, nothing will.
Festival hours: Every evening (except Fridays) from 6-11 P.M.; Saturday from 9 P.M.-midnight; for more information see http://artfair.jerusalem.muni.il/. Lasts until August 17.
Prices: NIS 60 for adults; NIS 50 for teens, students, soldiers and seniors; NIS 35 for children ages 5 to 12.
Note: If you can’t make it to the festival, the Hutzot Hayotzer artists’ studios are open to the public year-round, Sunday-Thursday, 10 A.M.-5 P.M.; Friday and holiday evenings 10 A.M.-2 P.M.