Last 4 Hours of Jerusalem Festival of Light – Don’t Miss It!

by Brian on June 16, 2010

in In the News,Just For Fun,Reviews

Map to the festival. Take the green route

Run, no sprint to the Light in Jerusalem festival, which is closing tonight – in just a few hours! – after a successful seven day run. The event consists of tens of creative, playful and often awe inspiring light installations from internationally renowned “light artists,” displayed and often tightly integrated into the fabric of Jerusalem Old City – walls, windows sometimes entire sides of synagogues.

Last year, some 250,000 visitors from all over Israel attended, as did our family. While there were small klatches of overseas tourists, most of the participants wandering the Old City this week seemed to be part of large boisterous tour guide-led groups of Hebrew-speakers for whom, by the looks on their faces, this was their first time in the Old City perhaps since childhood.

Indeed, the winding alleyways of the Old City seemed even more packed than last year. Particularly in the Jewish Quarter, you often had to queue up just to pass through a particularly narrow arch.

We got a tip from a friend on Facebook – thanks Arlene! – which I want to pass on to you here. Avoid the crowds and take the green route which starts Kikar Zahal (the intersection of the Old City and Jaffa Street) and meanders into East Jerusalem. There are far fewer visitors and the installations are truly fabulous.

Two in particular stood out. In “What do trees do at night?” by artist Joseph Meir Jimmy, a large oak tree set against the Old City walls comes to life via clever projections of images, animation and an accompanying soundtrack. The tree, with wonderfully expressive cartoon eyes, was beset upon by birds, children and scorpions, while transitioning through rain and snow. When the lights went off, it was hard to believe we were looking at just a plain tree and a wall.

Zedekiah’s Cave (Solomon’s Quarry) is an enormous underground cavern, where rocks were mined to build the First Temple. For the festival, it was turned into a aquarium-like environment created by Eran Klein and Eli Kochavi. Phosphorescent blue lights lit the way through the cave towards a light installation simulating fish swimming through water while soothing new age music played. It was truly magical.

What was particularly unique was the fact that many of the light shows were built specifically for the locations. The images projected on Damascus Gate, for example, used the shapes and turrets of the gate to weave its tale. It wouldn’t have worked anywhere else.

There’s lots more to see – tall illuminated rods depciting green grass at Jaffa Gate; a history of the Old City projected onto the newly reconstructed Hurva Synagogue.

The festival runs tonight from sunset until midnight. There’s inexpensive parking in the City Hall (Kikar Safra) parking lot (that’s the closest to the green route). as well as the Mamilla and Karta lots with free buses from the farther flung Ammunition Hill and Old Train Station parking locations. Or take the bus. Just don’t miss it.  More information from the festival’s website.

This review of the show appeared earlier in the day on the Israelity website.

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