As the sun sets behind the ancient walls of the Old City, there is plenty more that still shines in the city of Jerusalem. Long established as one of the world’s ultimate pilgrimage destinations, Jerusalem is attracting a new kind of guest, this time a discerning and curious traveller in search of a unique city break experience and buzzing nightlife scene. Here, in the cradle of Western civilisation, the changing face of Jerusalem welcomes a lively new atmosphere where food, bustling markets and nightlife rubs shoulders with centuries-old traditions.
Here, the Jerusalem Development Authority rounds up the best ways to discover the city after hours:
The Night Spectacular
Housed in Jerusalem’s Old City, visitors can watch the walls of the Citadel become the stage for a night-time show, celebrating Jerusalem’s 4,000-year-old history. Amidst the archaeological remains in the ancient Citadel’s courtyard and to the sound of original music, virtual reality images tell the stories of King David, the Roman conquest, Muhammad, the Crusaders, and Suleiman the Magnificent, among other notable figures and periods. The Night Spectacular, a 45-minute show, uses trompe l’oeil technology—the stones of the walls and structures fade into the scenes and the screened images envelop the viewers, whisking them off to a one-of-a-kind multi-sensory experience.
Mahane Yehuda Market
Mahane Yehuda, or ‘MachneYuda’ to locals, is Jerusalem’s most central market and is widely recognised as a symbol of the lively communities who call the city home. Famed as a crowded tangle of colourful stalls, the market offers a variety of spices, meats and fruits alongside juice bars, coffee stands and popular bakeries. After hours, the city’s main marketplace dramatically transforms, reinventing itself as a lively nightlife hub with bars, clubs and DJ sets. Revealing its trendy alter-ego, the market showcases a vast open air gallery of contemporary and historical figures spray painted on the shutters, creating a lively atmosphere for socialising and dining at night. Brought to life by British born Israeli artist Solomon Souza, the marketplace contributes to Jerusalem’s burgeoning arts scene and is fit for any hungry millennial. In typical “Banksy-esque” style, Solomon spray paints shop fronts in the middle of the night, leaving a trail of vibrant colour in his wake. Now after considerable traction from young travellers, shop owners now hope he will grace on their shutters with his signature spray art. Thursday night in Mahane Yehuda (the beginning of their weekend) is the main event and the market is brimming with bars and parties of all kinds.
Jerusalem Light Festival
Jerusalem’s light festival is a unique annual event, attracting thousands of visitors worldwide. Now in its tenth year, the show is created by local and international artists, illuminating cobblestone streets with an amazing variety of modern light art installations. The juxtaposition of the historic Old City with innovative and captivating artwork is a sight to behold and every year, different tracks are offered, each clearly marked by a different colour of light, taking visitors from one art instillation to another. Details about the pieces along each track are readily available, allowing guests to choose a route based on their preferences around the Old City. The artworks which are usually huge in size include three-dimensional installations, videos on landmark Old City walls and sound-and-light shows. There is also an art fair featuring work by a wide range of light designers displaying and selling their artworks, making it a true visual feast.
Season of Culture
The Jerusalem Season of Culture gathers hundreds of visual artists, DJs and chefs alike to create visual and artistic performances that best reflect the city. For the last five years, the Season of Culture has been exploring Jerusalem’s manifold layers, drawing inspiration from its history, complexities and deeper aspects that tap into the lives of its people. All events are unique to Jerusalem’s ambiance, and style and lend expression to a creative, sophisticated, artistic, social and humanist statement that is enjoyed by thousands every year. Annually, dozens of productions, projects and artists will come together in harmony, giving visitors food for thought and the opportunity to share and connect with one self, the city and others.