Chag Sameach! The way Sukkot falls this year, even those of us who do not travel on Yom Tov have plenty of days to spend quality time on days out with our families.
I am often asked what I would advise families to do during this special time and to be honest the list of ideas is endless. Regular destinations will be open, many of them running special events. It’s always worth calling ahead to see if there’s anything special happening that day and to check if they have a Sukkah if you need one.
TOP TIP! I always recommend getting to places early on holidays to really enjoy them! Although it can be difficult to drag everyone out of bed, don’t waste time indoors when the weather outside is perfect – get up and out and avoid the crowds. You will feel smug at finding parking and feel happy and accomplished when you leave just as the crowds are arriving and see the trails of cars parked miles from the starting point for national park hikes and big events!
In order to help you plan your Sukkot I decided to split this list of ideas into different themes. So here are some of the most recommended days out by users of LoveLoveIsrael.com to add to your itinerary for this Sukkot:
Circus Festival in Modi’in – book up to see shows or come for the free evening activities from 18:00-23:00 during Chol Hamoed. See the listings for more details.
Moshav Country Fair – Monday October 13th, Mevo Modiim – Great live music, talented artists, authentic country fair sports and games, special children’s programs, theater and performances for all, juggling, face-painting and all sorts of fun stuff
YAD2 Giant Yard Fair – 13-14th October in Gan Charles Clore, Tel Aviv. The well known online second-hand sales website turns live with hundred of stalls selling second hand items. You must register online to attend.
Mini Israel has, in addition to its regular exhibits, a special musical Sukkot Performance of ‘Hayeled Peleh’.
Hot Air Balloon Festival in the Negev. Purchase tickets here with an option to camp as well. A beautiful experience including GLOW balloons that light up the sky at night
Witches Festival – Click on the link to find various sites to buy tickets for an event near you during Chol Hamoed for the first Witches Festival in Israel. Children will be dressed up as witches and wizards when they come in and will enjoy theatrical magical performances and learn magic secrets. Sounds exciting!
Derech Ha’etz – the 4th Annual Wood Festival. Meet carpenters and artists and learn about the process of turning a tree into something beautiful for the home. Lots of activities and a large Sukkah.
Formula 1 – For the second year running, you’re invited to witness two days of powerful cars and first class drivers roaring along the race circuit in Jerusalem that allows for great vantage points for all. There is also a sports car exhibit throughout Chol Hamoed at the Jerusalem First Station.
The Annual Kite Festival at The Israel Museum is on Monday 13th October from 10:30am-18:00 and is free for children. Also sukkah stories and sukkah decoration workshops.
Sukkot-Themed Educational Events
Neot Kedumim – Sukkah Trail – see many different types of kosher sukkot, nature trails, nature workshops, musical performances, storytellling, petting zoo, gymboree (and bike rental and guided tours for an additional cost).
Susiya Ancient Village is offering various educational tours during Sukkot. Call beforehand to book.
Ein Yael Harvest Festival is taking place in Jerusalem 12-14th October. Plenty of fun activities, actors, workshops, music, singing, make sukkah decorations, petting zoo and more…
Beit Avichai Sukkah Design Contest -October 12-14, 2014, 10:00 – 19:00 Exhibition of mini sukkot, each representing a different idea
Birkat Hakohanim (Priestly blessing) at the Kotel – Sunday October 12th in the morning. Brave the crowds for this special experience
Bechatzer Shel Ora – a unique family owned garden in the south with 80 different kinds of trees including giant exotic yemenite etrogs. They have a kosher sukkah and you can organize a Yemenite meal there too. Call to book a tour.
Netanya beaches Sironit and Poleg are highly recommended. Sironit beach has a Kosher meat restaurant and a Sukkah.
Park Herzliya – Great for cycling and climbing with huge slides.
Park Raanana – Apart from the kids playground equipment and mini zoo, which is all free, paid-for activities include a boat ride, train ride, trampolines and carousel.
Park Anabe in Modiin – Lots of fun to be had playing and climbing; paid-for activities include boating and trampolines.
Zichron Yaakov has a great new park called Park Hachadash with great swings and climbing attractions as well as plenty of space for bikes and scooters
Ashdod is another recently developed park with exercise equipment, unique climbing frames and an acoustic park that plays music.
Teddy Kolleck Park, Jerusalem – don’t forget to check their Facebook page to get the times for when the sprinklers are on.
For a small fee, Park Hamishpacha in Carmiel is great with giant outdoor games, sprinklers, playground and more. Park Hayarkon has plenty of activities such as boating and bike hire, as does Park Beko in the North (paid entry and additional paid activities).
Finally the fun atmosphere and great parks at Tel Aviv Port are not to be missed. It will be buzzing there with events during Sukkot.
These are all fantastic parks for the whole family. As far as I know none have Kosher cafes but you may find kiosks selling ice cream and snacks. There should be a Sukkah, but check with municipalities to be sure.
The weather this time of year is perfect for camping all over the country! Our top recommended camping sites are:
Horshat Tal in the North is set in the beautiful Golan with natural streams that you can camp right next to.
Shaal Camping in the North provides everything you might need for a great camping experience.
Ashkelon National Park is very popular for it’s proximity to the beach and strict rules for quiet during the night. Great for young families.
Kfar Hanokdim in the South will give you a real bedouin experience including bedouin food, camel rides and meeting a real bedouin to hear all about their way of life.
Ganei Huga in Beit Shean is a beautiful nature spot. You can spend the day there by the natural pools and camp alongside during the night. Great facilities and family friendly and even an option to sleep in air conditioned yurts.
Technoda is the fabulous new Science Park in Hadera. They’re inviting visitors to meet some of the famous scientists of all time with plays and workshops especially for Sukkot.
Carasso Science Park is a fantastic new science park in Beersheva and definitely worth a visit. The Negev Municipality promises lots of entertainment during Sukkot so it will be worth spending the whole day in the area. A great opportunity to visit a region that needs your support.
Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem has a special exhibit, ‘The Machine Inside – Biomechanics’.
The Solar Garden in Binyamina is a unique place really worth a visit. You need to pre-book a tour.
Over Sukkot, Madatech in Haifa offers visitors their last chance to see a great exhibition about ships and the sea as well as a Disney Junior exhibit in addition to the fabulous regular exhibits.
Volunteering and Charity
Leket – pick vegetables that will be handed out to the poor. A fun group activity for a great cause! Call to see if you can join a group.
Beit Issie Shapiro, in Raanana is Israel’s leading provider and innovator of services for children and adults with disabilities. They host tours for people who want to do something a bit different when they travel around Israel. In addition this year they are holding a fun family event at Park Raanana, at Park Chaverim on Tuesday 14th October 16:00-18:30. Free entrance to the event and a tour of the special accessible park equipment. Other activities offered include duck,swan and pelican feeding, solar-powered gondola rides on the lake, mini maze and crazy roller. Some activities do cost.
Cycle for Unity – Increasing Jewish unity and connectivity, cultivating leadership, and supporting charitable projects through cycling adventures.Register for this is family friendly ride through the Ben Shemen Forest that will make your Chol Hamoed more meaningful. Bikes and helmets are provided!
Active Days Out!
Cycle in Tel Aviv – hurry and register for this unique opportunity to cycle all over Tel Aviv with your families. There are 4 different routes to choose from and there is sure to be be a great atmosphere.
Dov Halavan in Emek Hefer is a fantastic extreme activity for all ages. Bungee jumps, tight-rope walking, wall climbing and lots of energy and fun. Adults are encouraged to join in too!
Park Zikit is a fun family adventure park in Maaleh Adumim.
Caliber 3 – a unique experience in Gush Etzion that you need to book for. It teaches you about about counter terrorism and self-defense.
Archery in Beit Lechem Haglilit – learn how to shoot with professional bow and arrows and then go out to the forest and use your new skills.
Big Bambu Exhibit at the Israel Museum has had raving reviews and is staying open for Succot until 31st October. Strict age limit of age 6+ and you must wear closed shoes. Check their site for specific restrictions with child to adult ratios too as they are pretty strict.
Handmade Studio Café in Raanana is a great place to explore creativity. Choose an art project and all the paints and craft materials are provided. Open during Chol Hamoed but advisable to book. Special Sukkot crafts available too.
Soosveagala in Kadima holds the Guinness World Record for the largest rocking horse and the tiniest. A special family run carpentry workshop where children select a project and make it from scratch – from sanding it down, screwing it together and painting it. Highly recommended. You need to pre-book.
Metukaya is a fondant workshop in the North. Enjoy special workshops for Sukkot.
The Marzipan Museum in Kfar Tavor has a fantastic display of sculptures all made from Marzipan. Visitors then get a chance to try it for themselves in a workshop.
Groovesters is a new tie-dying workshop in Katzrin. A fun activity producing a high quality garment to keep forever!
Beit Avichai has various workshops over the succot period, including graffiti art, comics and music.
Omanya – Art of Leather Workshop in Haifa – a hidden gem and special activity best for slightly older children, teens and adults. Call to book.
Kfar Kedem takes you back in time to the Mishnaic period. Dressed in ancient style clothing you will milk a goat, make cheese, ride a donkey and learn all about how things were done at the time of the Mishna in the most beautiful surroundings and by fun, animated tour guides.
Scavenger hunts in the Old City or Gush Etzion make a fun way to learn and explore with your family. Book your place and tour Israel in a unique way.
Archaeological Dig in Beit Guvrin is a great activity in ancient caves. Be the first to discover new finds with tools just like real archaeologists. Great guides make this very meaningful – a real experience of Israeli history at your fingertips.
Snorkel for techelet at Chof Dor. Learn all about the ancient snail and see how the dye is produced on this fun educational tour. Booking is essential.
Shvil Hasalat in the South offers tours of their hi-tech agriculture, includes picking fresh tomtoes and cucumbers, a passion fruit maze, spices and more. You need to pre-book.
Factory Tours – there are so many, but here are a few listed together with age restrictions. Many tours are free or very low cost but do abide by dress and age codes to avoid disappointment.
National Parks – As well as usual hikes, there are special events at some National Parks (free for National Park members), for example:
Mamshit Nabatean Market 9-14th October
Theatrical storytelling of creation at Ein Hemed – 11-12th October
Bringing the history of Caesarea harbor to life from Shabbat until Tuesday of Chol Hamoed. Including acrobatic and fire shows, music, stage battles and Roman style markets.
See their website for the full list.
Ramat Hanadiv – lots of choice here – great trail paths and beautiful gardens to explore as well as a lovely milky kosher restaurant.
Majrasa – Probably the most popular Tiyul especially for young adventurers – a beautiful half hour long shaded walk in the water!
Einot Tzukim – more swimming than hiking this is a beautiful oasis in the desert great for the whole family
Nesher Park, Haifa, was hugely popular this year. Stunning views over amazing bridges.
The Tamar Music Festival 11-15th October in the area near Masada with stars like Shlomy Shabat, Ivri Lider, Aviv Gefen
Masada – Ayal Golan and Sarit Hadad on 16th October
Shweky – October 14th, Jerusalem
Beit Shemesh Festival with Udi Davidi, Lenny Solomon, the minor Schwekey and others – Monday evening
Please share and feel free to add more special events and concerts in the comments below!
Have a wonderful Chag!