You’ve probably heard of the Japanese ‘Sakura’ or cherry blossom festival. Well, in Israel, we have a festival to celebrate the bloom of anemones that takes place in the winter. ‘Darom’ means south and ‘Adom’ means red. However, since Israel is a small country, it is only about an hour’s drive from Tel-Aviv or Jerusalem to reach the northern Negev where the sea of flowers awaits you.
The festival was established about a decade ago and has been growing in size each year. Aside from the outdoors activities, the festival is a chance to visit local farms and galleries, taste the regional dishes and enjoy a multitude of musical performances that are planned throughout the month of February 2018 during which the festival will take place.
This week I was invited to join a tour organized by the Shikma Tourism Association in order to meet a number of new local participants that have joined the festival and are opening their gates this year. I would like to introduce them to you.
Additional options are in the festival’s link, where you can see what it looks like in full bloom.
Trip Agenda Options:
- Kibbutz Dorot
- Shovalim Forest in Nir Moshe
- Golan Mordechai Beehive Apiary in Moshav Gilat
- Strawberry Picking at ‘Uri Tutim’ in Moshav Yesha
- Historical Museum ‘Hagadat Yamit’ in Moshav Dekel
- Beer Boutique ‘ISIS’
- Culinary-Music Happening at Sderot
Shovalim Forest in Nir Moshe
KKL (stands for Keren Kayemet Leyisrael or Jewish National Fund), Israel’s leading green environmental organization has prepared a new section of forest by Nir Moshe for visitors. It is one of several locations in the south that are going to be filled with the bloom of anemones. The forest was planted in the 1950s and covers ~250 acres or 1,000 Dunam. Preparations by KKL included clearing paths for bicycling, marking of viewpoints, installing new sports and playground equipment. Shovalim Forest has a nice circular path with several stops on the way. Since it’s a brand new location, you put ‘Nir Moshe’ in Waze and then drive past the small town till you reach the forest. You’ll know you’re at the right place because right at the entrance you’ll see a new windpipe statue overlooking the entrance.
Travelers may also meet ‘Yatzek’ a comic Israeli TV character from the 1980s and other dressed up characters who will be located each weekend between 10:00-15:00 and will be greeting the children every hour on the hour for a 20 minute activity. On Fridays the location will be at Beer Marva, the forest opposite Kibbutz Alumim and on Saturdays at Harishonim Banegev site near Kibbutz Ruhama.
Kibbutz Dorot is offering visitors a number of attractions. First of all, for the purpose of the festival, the Kibbutz is opening its dining room to outside visitors on top of the regular B&B guests. If you’d like a late brunch, they are offering a nice breakfast buffet that includes their own private line ‘Taim Bape’ of six salad spreads: black and green olive tapenades, pesto, sun-dried tomato, artichoke and baked pepper and their self-made spelt crackers. They are also offering small or large picnic packages that you can order and take with you.
The small package (75 NIS) includes: 3 spreads of your choice with bread or their crackers.
The large package (150 NIS per couple) includes: 3 spreads of your choice with bread or their crackers, 3 types of cheeses of your choice, salad, olives, hard boiled eggs, jam, halva, yoghurt and granola, a tablecloth and tableware.
Moreover, the Kibbutz in general offers agricultural tours and has a small archeological museum founded by a member of the Kibbutz, displaying pre-historic basalt and flint tools and additional findings up till the end of the Ottoman Empire (~1922).
Golan Mordechai Apiary in Moshav Gilat
This young family apiary is as sweet as honey. The apiary was opened in 1982 and manufactures 6 types of honey. During the festival, they will be offering an activity that is suitable for younger children.
Dizzy the Bee will greet the children and send them off on a round of activities. A glass hive will be used to present the beehive and explain a bit about the bees’ lives, how honey is made and what nectar plants are. The children will get to dress up in a beekeeper’s outfit, plant a nectar plant and make and decorate a candle out of beeswax. You’ll get to take home a photograph magnet, the plant and candle.
In the meantime, adults will be able to sit in the shade and enjoy some refreshments from the food stalls and even purchase some of the local produce to take home. The grandfather of the family had purchased an old bus that has been renovated inside and will be open as a pub on Thursdays.
Open: Every Friday from 10:00-16:00.
Entrance Fees: 35 NIS for children aged 2-12 and 10 NIS for adults.
Strawberry Picking at ‘Uri Tutim’ in Moshav Yesha
The farmstead at Moshav Yesha is called ‘Meshek Patkin’, but the name of the brand is called ‘Uri Tutim’ and that is what you put in Waze. ‘Tutim’ means strawberries. This third-generation farm is raising premium strawberries using advanced biological methods. The strawberries are planted above ground and grow hanging down, well aired and mold-free. Picking is easy and the strawberries are sweet. Children can stand on crates, if needed.
Open: Every Friday and Saturday from 9:00-16:00. You can reserve additional picking in the middle of the week for groups of 30 or above.
Entrance fee: 10 NIS for children aged 2 and above, 20 NIS for the basket of strawberries.
Historical Museum ‘Hagadat Hevel Yamit’ in Moshav Dekel
You don’t always get to meet someone who took part in the actual historic events. At Moshav Dekel, the museum ‘Hagadat Hevel Yamit’ was established by Zehava Shaked and other former settlers of ‘Yamit, a city that was evacuated as part of the Peace Treaty with Egypt in 1982. Zehava tells her personal story of settlement and sacrifice in the most authentic voice possible. The 1 hour tours are available for groups of ten and above. The guided tour and film are available in English, but should be reserved in advance.
Open: Every day from 10:00-16:00
Entrance fee: 15 NIS
Beer Boutique ‘ISIS’
Did you know that beer is an ancient beverage, produced in Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt? Isaac Levi, the owner of this beer boutique did and named it after the Egyptian goddess of fertility ‘ISIS’ as a symbol of abundance.
The boutique offers 5 fixed types of beer plus seasonal variations. All are Type A (not lager). The visit includes a one-hour tour of the brewery with beer tasting. Thereafter, you are welcome to stay in the beer-garden where beer and light meals will be served. DJ or live jam session performances will be posted on facebook.
Open: Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00-16:00. Midweek via reservation.
Fees: Tour with tastes - 10 NIS, tour alone – 30 NIS. Performances – variable.
Culinary-Music Happening at Sderot
Sderot is a nearby city that is joining the festival for the first time. Stalls will be set up in the municipality square selling local handcrafts every Friday between 12:00-16:00 with musical performances throughout. Entrance is free.
In addition, the city is offering walking tours in the city every Friday at 9:00 leading from ‘Coffee Gotha’ through the ‘Student’s Village’ where you’ll hear their stories from locals to the ‘Qassam Museum’. The tour will include tastes from the catering ‘Pashut Taim’ and a gift of red sweets to go. Tours may be conducted in English if you specify the requirement when making the reservation. Tours may be canceled if there are insufficient registrants. You can cancel up to 24 hrs in advance.
Phone: for registration: 054-5501514
Fee: Adults 50 NIS, children aged 3-12 30 NIS.
Meeting Place: Coffee Gotha, 4 HaDegel St., Sderot
The restaurants below are all located around the square and if you don’t know which to choose, the first four have joined together to create a food tour with tastes from each. The tours will go out on Fridays at 12:00, 13:00 and 14:00. They cost 120 NIS per person and are limited to 15 people.
Phone: Reserve with Meital at 050-5501514.
Meital Healthy Kitchen (in Hebrew ‘Meital Mitbach Bari’)
Meital offers wholesome meals such as whole-wheat couscous, soups based on fresh vegetables and seasonings (no powdered mixes). The menu includes both meat options and vegan options.
Pasta and That’s It (in Hebrew ‘Pasta Vezehu’)
This is your Italian option. Shir and Idan are waiting for you with fresh pasta, ravioli, antipasti, focaccias and more.
Fresh based pizza, a mix of mozzarella, gauda and hard cheeses and excellent toppings. Say no more.
Roy and Bar met in Mumbai where Roy was cooking. The menu is dairy with fish and a several vegan options.
Hapagaz Shel Elbaz
This kosher diner offers light Israeli meals including Shakshuka, Borekas, toast, salads and sandwiches. Seating is both inside and outside.
The pub also offers light Israeli dairy meals, similar to Elbaz and in general, will be the focal point of all the musical performances as it regularly organizes cultural performances throughout the year.
See above. This post is all inclusive.
See above. This post is all inclusive.
The recommended timeline is to come on Thursday and stay for a long weekend. It will allow you to avoid traffic and enjoy more of the festival’s performances and activities throughout the region.
This is what it looks like on the map:
Are you planning on coming?
Photos Talma Gotteiner