Looking for some free summer entertainment? Besides all the festivals that make up the summer cultural season in Jerusalem, the holy city is the place to be for free (or almost free) concerts to suit every taste.
The added bonus with Jerusalem’s summer events, is that almost all of them are held in beautiful and historic outdoor surroundings, making it a multi-sensory experience.
Take the Sounding Jerusalem series, for example. Now in its 6th season, the music festival that’s sponsored by an assortment of European foundations and headed by talented young cellist Erich Oskar Huetter, brings together European and local musicians for a collaboration of magical events.
Running from June 26- July 2, the Soundings concerts will take place in Beit Jalla, Hebron, the Old City and Jericho. Highlight of the week is the sunrise concert at 5 a.m on July 1 at Jericho’s Mount of Temptation. You’ll be back in Jerusalem in time for an early lunch and a nap!
Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda market may not qualify for the “beautiful” award of the year, but it is a funky, lively hangout place, even if you’re not tempted to load up on fruit and veggie. Every Monday evening in July, when the serious shoppers have dragged their bounty home, the market comes alive again with the Balabasta series. It’s a free happening of music, food and dancing that’s not to be missed.
A very different atmosphere will greet you at the ongoing series of free concerts featuring local musicians held on Sunday nights at the Brigham Young University Campus on Mount Scopus. Show up at 7 p.m for free stand-by tickets for the concerts that start at 8 p.m.
You’ll be rewarded with a 70-minute concert and a view over the Temple Mount that you’ll remember forever.
A more prosaic setting is the Jerusalem Theater in the Talbieh neighborhood. Every Monday afternoon at 4 p.m, lines begin to form as Jerusalemites in the know wait for free tickets to the 5 p.m Etnachta concerts. An eclectic program of classical music with some of Israel’s best musicians and orchestras will fill your afternoon. You’ll be the audience for the concerts that are broadcast live on Israel radio’s Kol HaMusika channel.
Watch the Friday (weekend) papers for other free or low-cost musical offerings over the summer. For 40NIS ($11) you can snag a ticket to the July 17 Singing for Jerusalem concert at the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus amphitheater that looks out over the Judean desert east of the city.
Choirs from all over the country as well as Israeli pop icon Yehoram Gaon will sing songs dedicated to Jerusalem. Tickets available at 02-623-7000