The Safed Klezmer Festival
If you love hearing beautiful music and getting to enjoy it for free, then the Safed Klezmer Festival might by right up your alley. And "alley" is definitely the right word when this festival takes place each year in Safed. Safed is an ancient and glorious city in the Northern part of Israel which hosts a music festival every summer for three days. People flock from near and far to enjoy the Klezmer music that can be heard through the night, and also to enjoy the venders, the other musical guests and so much more.
An Overview of the Festival
The Safed Klezmer Festival takes place for three days each summer, usually in August. It starts around 7 or 8 pm each night with musicians playing in many of the courtyards, amphitheaters and alleys of Safed. All night long, both individuals and groups take their turns on the many different stages, courtyards and other areas entertaining the many guests. There are a few indoor music sites which require tickets, but the majority of the fun is to be had for free.
Tips During the Festival
If you're interested in joining in this amazing experience, you'll want to book a room early. There are many bed and breakfast locations scattered about Safed and a few hotels. Make sure to reserve your spot before they all book up and before they raise their rates as the festival approaches! If you plan to drive into town during the festival, arrive early in the day. After 3:00pm the entrance to Safed is usually closed to private vehicles and you'll then have to park in a lot outside of town and take a bus shuttle service.
Interesting Details about the Festival
The Safed Klezmer Festival is run by the Safed Foundation. They organize the musicians and find the acts and entertainment for the festival. While the festival is called the Safed Klezmer Festival, there are also a number of musicians playing different types of genres. This makes for an interesting mix of musical choices throughout the night. In 2004, the Safed Deputy Mayor Reuven Sadeh actually invited former President Bill Clinton to appear with his saxophone at the Klezmer music festival. Ma'ariv reported that President Clinton did not take him up on the offer, but that it was extended with sincerity! In 2008, the line-up included such musical groups as Simply Tsfat, Maxim Klezmer, Hanan Rosenzweig, Flicks Klezmer and Klezmer Tish.
The Safed Klezmer Festival has received some criticism for being deemed not authentic enough. Some people have argued that the musicians come from Hassidic, rock and other influences more than they do from Klezmer backgrounds. There is certainly a lot of debate about exactly what falls into the realm of "klezmer" and festival organizers have answered this criticism each year by inviting both traditional klezmer musicians and more contemporary Israeli ones.
Any way that you look at it, this is certainly a festival that is not to be missed. The Safed Kelzmer Festival offers something for everyone and guarantees an enjoyable, free experience for the taking!