Festivals and Marathons
Returning for the third time, on Feb. 14-16, 2023, after skipping a year of COVID pandemic, is the 3rd Festival BeerShira, this time held at the Writers’ House, located at ha-Avot 53 in the Old City. Attendance is free but requires advanced registration. This festival includes: meetings with poets, writing workshops, sessions honoring certain poets & their works, and live music. The 1st was held in Dec. 2019 & the 2nd in Sept. 2021.
In October 2022, the Be’er-Sheva MiKan Fringe Theater added a new tradition to their list of international festivals, by holding an International Children’s Theater Festival; each year, the plays presented would deal with a different theme–the first of which: “Stop the shunning!”
Each Fall, since 2021, Sergio Alaluf (b.1978-), owner of JEMS restaurant in Be’er-Sheva, a runner and trainer for marathons and ultras-marathons, has instigated “Running B7” under his slogan: “Run 2 live – Live 2 run,” at the Gav-Yam High-Tech Park.
In 2021, Cinema City held a two-day Wine & Cheese Festival in the middle of August with produce from all across the country.
A new Be’er-Sheva Old City music and arts festival, called Petrichor (lit., the smell of the first rain on parched earth) was initiated in December 2019–featuring live music, experimental art and music, & psychedelic, digital and virtual media. Futuristic arts featured against the backdrop of the historic setting.
Since 2010, the Be’er-Sheva MiKan Fringe Theater has held an Annual International Fringe Festival (IFF) each Summer and an Annual Dance Week and Competition each Fall, judged by professional choreographers, dancers & theater VIPs, as well as special events and shows for children during holidays and Summer vacations. Location: Old City, Anilevich St. Call: 08-6466657; theFringe.co.il; and http://www.iffb7.com.
At the end of February/beginning of March, during the week of the Purim holiday, the Old City and all of Be’er-Sheva fills with children and adults in costumes, street parties, parades with floats, and comic events in the parks. Three-cornered cookies, called ozne Haman (lit. Haman’s ears; see the biblical Book of Esther), traditionally filled with poppy seeds, but also filled with: prune jam, pressed dates, chocolate, nuts, marzipan, etc. are eaten.
The 1st annual Israel national Be’er-Sheva Quick-Chess Tournament, in memory of the founder of the Be’er-Sheva Chess Club, Eliyahu Levant, was held mid-March, with 89 participants from across the country, including 14 grand masters, 8 international masters & 1 woman grand master, Ilana David, Director of the Be’er-Sheva Club.
Every year since 2012, in the Spring and after sunset, Be’er-Sheva holds a city-wide night “Light/Glow Run” with over 5,000 active participants of all ages and large cheering crowds lining the streets, managed by “Kivunim.“ Before the race, all the registered runners are given a warmup session and painted and equiped with glowing colors. There are three well-lit courses provided: for 2.5, 5 and 10 kilometer runs. After the race, there is an after-party with well-known local D.J.s and celebs.
The annual Smilansky Street Festival originated in July 2005 and by July 2010 had developed into an Annual International Multidisciplinary Fringe Festival held in the Old City of Be’er-Sheva, open to the public and with attractions for all ages and tastes–theater, dance, music, street arts, comedy, drama, improvisation, etc. This high-quality festival was recognized by the European Festivals Association (EFA) in 2017 as being the best festival held in Israel. This street festival was reinstated in August 2021, after a 2-year COVID-19 hiatus.
A new festival was born in July 2019, the “Eat & Drink Festival,” held inside the Design Plus Complex, located at 12 Eliyahu Nawi St. (an extension of the Hebron Road near the large industrial area). Three gourmet chefs (incl. Avi Biton), a cocktail bar, a beer pub, are all accompanied by street performers, DJs and live bands.
Each August since 2015, a 40+08 Artistic/Cultural Marathon is held in the Old City of Be’er-Sheva. During this designated 48-hour period, visual artists of all kinds produce their novel creations, that are then presented to the public as a part of the “Zohar Deromi” (lit., southern glow) Festival at various Old City venues. The name of this marathon refers not only to the time-frame, but also suggests route 40 (that reaches Be’er-Sheva) and telephone area code 08 (for dialing the southern region). Free night-time tours of the Old City are also provided. In August 2019, this multidisciplinary, multimedia, open-to-the-public, interactive festival was renamed the Fountain Festival, lasting for 3 whole days and nights, including: graffiti painting on street-side walls, art workshops, athletic workshops, roving minstrels, various musical shows, singles get-togethers, dance classes, cooking classes, special lectures, Old City tours, etc.
Every year in September, Be’er-Sheva holds a Wine Festival at the restored Ottoman-Turkish Train Station.
Since 2013, at the start of every academic year in the Fall, the students at BGU hold a huge and loud welcome-to-Be’er-Sheva street party in the vicinity of the University. All are welcome to attend the festivities.
An annual Beer Fest is generally held in October (as it is in Europe) in the Mall 7 area, just south of (below) the Old City.
Come November every year, an “Atena” Womens’ Fitness & Sports Day is held outdoors in Be’er-Sheva’s Bell Park for women from the entire southern region. This free event includes aerobic sports, zumba, yoga, a 2-kilometer march and other healthy activities, as well as a guest artist performance.
Since 2008, an annual conference has been hosted every November on the ‘green campus‘ – the Marcus Family Campus of BGU – to grant “Marks of Distinction for Negev Environmental Quality” to worthy individuals and bodies, sponsored by the NPO Sustainable Development for the Negev.
For over a decade, there have been several English-language folk-music festivals each year, originally held at Ashan ha-Zeman and, in recent years, at the Hen Commercial Center in the Bet Neighborhood (26 Bialik St.) — thus called “Bialik Folk Time” (organized by Negev folk-singer Lauren Ornstein (b.1950-). Each event features well-known folk-singers from across Israel (e.g., Sandy Cash, Eli “Dr. Blues” Marcus) and guests from abroad.
Every year at the very end of August, a municipal memorial service is held in City Hall square, commemorating the murder of the 16 victims of Hamas terrorism in Be’er-Sheva, who died in suicidal bus bombings on August 31st, 2004. The monument (established in 2004) was designed by architect Ya’akov Cohen.
Since “Our future is inspired by our past” – join the Society for the Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites – http://www.shimur.org.il. You are welcome to come to the Be’er-Sheva Office of the Society, now located in the Old City at Mordey ha-Geta’ot 74 and/or call Michal Montal – 054-4606496.