The Haifa Festival of Festivals or Holiday of Holidays – an annual celebration.
Hebrew: חג החגים
What’s on in Haifa? Sometimes referred to as the Haifa Festival of Festivals and sometimes the Haifa Holiday of Holidays Festival (HEBREW – חג החגים), this annual event takes place in Haifa in December. Although much needed, we all pray the rain will stay away and the winter weather will be pleasant enough for this unique outdoor event not to be interrupted in any way.
A few weekends of festivities, cultural activities, markets and fun and events celebrate the three monotheistic religions that live in mutual harmony, cooperation, tolerance and respect in Haifa. Jews, Christians and Moslems are celebrating their holy days and in Haifa, everyone puts their religious and cultural differences aside, and gets together to enjoy this fun-filled event.
Now in it’s 28th year, the festival has grown in size and popularity. The festival hi-lights the unique flavor of Haifa and its residents. Yona Yahav (previous Mayor of of Haifa) aptly described the Festival as one “without boundaries of culture and religion. Just show up and rejoice!”
2021 Festival Dates
December 2-4, 9-11 & 16-18
Since 2018 The Festival of Festivals Holiday of Holidays is held in the German Colony. The incumbent, and first, lady Mayor of Haifa – Dr. Einat Kalisch-Rotem moved the main festival events from the Wadi NisNas neighborhood to the German Colony. This change in venue has been a success allowing ten’s of thousands of visitors to the Festival.
For first time visitors to Haifa, the German Colony is nestled between the Haifa Port and the Bahai Temple. The festival is focused along Ben Gurion Boulevard and many performances are held at Beit HaGeffen Cultural Center on the corner of Allenby and Hatzionut Streets.
Wad NisNas – a 10-15 minute walk (no hills) from the Germany Colony, is a quaint place to visit. If you have the patience to stand in a long queue, Falafel Hazkaynim, Falafel Michel and Falafel George have a reputation for the best falafel in Haifa. These ‘falafelerias’ have been battling for the falafel crown for years. They have been featured on Travel-Israel television and culinary programs with Yishai Golan, Yisrael Aharoni and Hila Alpert. Falafel Orion on Hertzliya street serves a great falafel too. If you’re into hummus; Abu Shakker, Hummus Abu Marwan are just a few of the very best local ‘hummuserias’.
Performances, exhibitions and other Holiday of Holiday events also take place at:
- The Rappaport Center at the Haifa Auditorium
- The Tikotin Japanese Museum
- The Studio Theater at Bet Hecht
- The St. Johns Church.
- Haifa Art Museum
- Haifa City Museum
Walk through Haifa’s many alleys and stairways that run from Mount Carmel down to Ben Gurion Boulevard. Starting from Yefe Nof Street in the Central Carmel the Gadera stairs, near the Dan Panorama Hotel, descend. Walk down the stairs to the German Colony. It’s a 30+ minute walk to the Festival of Festivals from the Central Carmel. There are hundreds of stairs – don’t do this if you have knee problems but if you can, it’s a wonderful way for you to meander around Haifa, take in the spectacular views, see the suburbs and feel the Haifa vibe.
Haifa runs a limited bus and Metronit service on Saturdays so check on the Egged website or apps like Efobus and Moovit for updates.
Parking in the German Colony is available but remember that it will be in serious demand during the festival. These are the main parking zones close by.
- Migdal HaNeviim
- HaParsim St. 3 & 16
- Ben Gurion 6 & 18
- HaNamal St.
- HaAtzmaut 67
- HaGanim 21
- Y.L. Peretz St.
- Lavontin St.
- Herzliya St.
- Kadoshei Bagdad St.
Current Ministry of Health directives will apply to all indoor events. Have your Green Pass on hand.
What you can expect to see at the festival
Ben Gurion Blvd, the center of the festival is flanked on both sides with wonderful restaurants and coffee shops and some free performances are held here.
Market stalls along Ben Gurion Blvd., sell all manner of craft and flea market items, toys, food and drink, handmade jewelry and items of clothing. Home made pita, labane, koubbeh, kebabs, zaatar, mejadra and tabbouleh are also on sale. Sample delicious home made nougats, peanut brittle, halva and knafeh. For the kids, sticky toffee apples are a must. Hot legumes, corn on the cob and roasted chestnuts are also on sale. A glass of freshly squeezed pomegranate, orange or carrot juice will quench your thirst for about 10 shekels.
The Christmas lights are on every evening and when you look up you will also have a fabulous night view of the Bahai Temple.
Bet Hageffen – the Jewish Arab Cultural Center hosts numerous performances and exhibitions and this year is no exception.
Top Festival Tips
- Don’t be shy to bargain – it’s part of the Middle Eastern culture
- Keep your wallet and mobile phone in a safe place
- Wear comfortable shoes – plenty of walking
- Some stalls will take credit cards but not all, so bring plenty of cash
If the weather is fine and you’re coming to Haifa for the day, you might want to combine your visit to the Festival with other activities. Haifa’s beaches stretch for miles and while it might be too cold for a dip in the ocean, a walk along the promenade and Park Hecht can be invigorating. A selection of cafes and restaurants on the boardwalk are a great way to relax and enjoy the day, the waves and the ocean breeze. You might also want to take in a visit to the Druze Villages, the Haifa Zoological Gardens or the view from the Bahai Garden main entrance – you will need a car to get to these destinations.
- Israel parking regulations explained
- Traffic violations and parking fines
- Road and parking signs
- Parking for disabled drivers
- Planning a trip or touring? Tour and travel Israel with us
See you there!