The 10 Best Ways to Experience Israel Independence Day

Israel celebrates its 70th Independence Day this year | ©Pixabay
Israel celebrates its 70th Independence Day this year | ©Pixabay
Yom Ha’atzmaut is Israel’s Independence Day, where Israelis come together to celebrate the declaration of the State of Israel. This year, festivities start from sundown on Wednesday, 18 April and last until sundown on Thursday, 19 April. It’s a huge day in the Israeli calendar and offers an endless array of celebrations, from street raves to museum events. If this is your first time commemorating, check out our suggestions below for where to celebrate Israel’s 70th year in style.

Watch the Official Celebration in Jerusalem

The official Jerusalem state celebration for Yom Ha’atzmaut kicks off at Mount Herzl, Israel’s military cemetery, with a torch-lighting ceremony at 7:45pm. The ceremony will feature a military parade, the IDF disabled veterans’ band, poetry reading and more. Although attendance is by invitation only, the whole ceremony is televised.

Israeli flags © Mona Mizi / Flickrcommons

Watch the Yom Haatzmaut Fly Over Air Show

Every Yom Ha’atzmaut, the Israeli air force performs an air show which can be seen over much of the country. The show includes flyovers and acrobatics and is a real sight. One of the best places to watch the aeronautical acrobatic show is on one of Tel Aviv’s gorgeous beaches. After you watch the show, you can sit and relax or get a few friends together to play a game of matkot, Israel’s national beach sport. This year the show begins at 1.15pm on Thursday, April 19.

Independence Day Fireworks Displays

A main event in Tel Aviv for celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut is a fireworks display, held at Rabin Square from 9pm. Fireworks will paint the sky whilst giant screens in the square show clips of scenes throughout Israeli history. You can also head over to the Zion Square in Jerusalem to take part in festivities from 9pm. Expect to see Israeli flags and paraphernalia everywhere and kids going crazy with foam guns.

Go to a Tel Aviv rooftop party

Rooftop parties are part of the culture in Tel Aviv, particularly so on Independence Day. If you don’t have an invite to a friend or mutual friend’s roof then worry not – there are plenty of other options, including the MidBar Independence Day Rooftop Party on Wednesday, April 18. With several DJs performing, from mainstream music to techno and psychedelic tunes, and extremely cheap alcohol, this is set to be an awesome night. The event is from 9pm to 4am and tickets can be bought on the door, costing 40 NIS. Space is limited and it is a first come, first serve policy, so arrive on time!

Party in the streets of Tel Aviv

The Yemenite Quarter, or kerem hateimanim in Hebrew, is a charming, quaint neighbourhood tucked away behind Carmel Market. Outdating the city of Tel Aviv itself, it is a mix of humble Yemenite restaurants, hipster cafes and bars. It also hosts numerous street parties and is the place to be on the eve of Israel Independence Day: its narrow roads will be packed with people partying. Head to either Tarmab Street or Rabbi Akiva anytime after 9pm on Wednesday, April 18 and lose yourself in the exuberant celebrations and great DJ performances. Alternatively, go to Rothschild Boulevard for more wild street celebrations.

Soldiers and civilians dancing by Carmel Market, Tel Aviv © Mona Mizi / Flickrcommons

Rave in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park

The sprawling Hayarkon Park in north Tel Aviv is hosting a huge rave featuring some of electronic music’s most renowned artists, including Seth Troxler and Charlotte de Witte, in addition to Israeli talent such as Red Axes. The event will begin on Wednesday, April 18 at 10pm, lasting until 8am the following morning. Tickets must be bought in advance and cost 220 NIS.

Explore the new Independence Trail

Located at 1 Rothschild Boulevard in the heart of Tel Aviv, this new trail leads visitors to some of the nation’s most significant historical monuments and displays its cultural and national heritage. The 1km walking route will bring two stories to life that are central to the story of modern Israel: The birth of Tel Aviv, the first Jewish, self-governed, Hebrew speaking city, in 1909; and how Tel Aviv would make way for the birth of the State of Israel 39 years later in 1948. This is a great free option for celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut while learning about Israel’s fascinating and tumultuous history. It begins on Thursday, April 19 from 10am to 5pm.

BBQ in HaYarkon Park

There’s a reason why Yom Ha’atzmaut is known, unofficially, as Israel’s national barbeque (or mangal in Hebrew) day, so why not celebrate in true Israeli style by setting up a small charcoal grill outside and barbequing your favourite meat and vegetables? One beautiful spot to set up your BBQ is HaYarkon Park. It’s filled with greenery and trees, in addition to its picturesque lake, making it the perfect location for a Yom Ha’atzmaut barbeque. Just don’t forget to pack your nafnaf (a plastic or cardboard fan) to keep the coals glowing.

Lazy river, Park HaYarkon. © Israeltourism/Flickr

Party at Jerusalem’s Machne Yehuda Market

One of the liveliest spots in Jerusalem is its famed market, which is a culinary paradise by day and a buzzing drinking spot at night. With numerous bars to choose from, and a young, exuberant crowd, this is the place to be in the Holy City. We recommend the event at Beer Bazaar, in which you can dance to the music of DJ Zohar and sample the best of Israel’s burgeoning craft beer industry.

Independence Day Celebration at the Tower of David Museum

Jerusalem’s excellent Tower of David Museum is opening its gates to all, with free activities for the whole family focusing on the symbols of Jerusalem and the State of Israel. You’ll find guidance stations, games, theatre spectacles, and live music. A special Independence Day show will take place at 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm, and will showcase songs and stories that have become important parts of Israeli history.

Additional reporting by Reuben Lewis