The Eurovision Song Contest is upon us and that means Tel Aviv is living up to its name as the “non-stop city” with parties, events, culture, dining experiences and, of course, music.
The 64th edition of this international glam fest is running from May 14-18, 2019, with events kicking off even earlier on May 12.
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The Tel Aviv Municipality of Tel Aviv has dedicated Eurovision information on its website of what’s happening where, how to get there, and when to arrive.
Over 10,000 international tourists are expected to get a taste of Tel Aviv this week and the number of activities on offer is staggering. This article highlights just a handful of the events. NoCamels recommends checking the city’s website regularly as activities and events are updated all the time.
The three main three events to keep note of are May 14 for the first semi-final, May 16 for the second semi-final 2, and May 18 for grand finale.
Before setting off, keep in mind that public loos are not always easy to find. That’s where the P-pass initiative comes in handy, letting you know where to go when nature calls in just a click of a button.
Free shuttles and public transport
The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality will make getting around easier for visitors with free transportation to and from the Eurovision Song Contest shows during the final weekend of the competition (May 17 and 18). Tourists, members of official delegations, performers and visiting journalists will be issued pre-charged Rav Kav cards by representatives of Israel’s national broadcaster Kan, which is operating the event. Israel’s transportation system moved to a no-cash policy on buses several months ago.
In addition, 50 free shuttle buses will run from sundown Friday, starting at the Carmelit Terminal near the Eurovision Village and running to the Tel Aviv Expo, where the song contest is taking place.
A blue line will ride along the coast and a green line will ride through the city center.
This is the official site of Eurovision celebrations and is open to everyone starting at 5pm (May 12-18). The Eurovision Village is located at the Charles Clore Park, overlooking the beach. This is the place to come for live performances by Israeli and international artists, food trucks, a live DJ stage, and official Eurovision merchandise.
On May 13, Pride Night will include live performances by international drag queens, DJ sets and a show featuring Israeli pop singer and former Eurovision winner, Dana International.
On May 14, the first semi-final will be screened at the village, in addition to the regular performances.
On May 15, the night is dedicated to electronic music artists from all over Europe.
On May 16, catch the second semi-final on huge screens. Also, the Balkan Beat Box crew will take the stage as will the official ABBA Tribute Band.
On May 17, a sunset concert is planned.
And on May 18, the Eurovision final will be screened on huge screens.
Clubs, bars, nightlife
Tel Aviv’s acclaimed nightlife is ready to impress Eurovision’s visitors. Throughout the week, the city’s bars and clubs are going all out with drag parties, top DJs at the decks, an all-night karaoke fest and more. Check out this list, created by the Secret Tel Aviv blog.
See the city and beyond
Tel Aviv runs free walking tours of its different neighborhoods year round. Eurovision visitors can take part in tours of Sarona, Carmel Market, Neve Tzedek or Bauhaus architecture. There are also free tours around the city given by locals on a tips-only basis – the guides are part of an international community of locals who love their cities and want to share it with visitors.
The Ministry of Tourism and the Government Press Office are taking foreign journalists on tours to Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Tel Aviv, the Golan Heights and to areas in Israel’s south. The tours are free and will take place during the days when there are breaks in Eurovision song contest performances.
Tel Aviv Eat
The annual food festival, Tel Aviv Eat, is taking place next door to the Eurovision Village. All foodstuffs cost NIS 35. This is the place to really get a taste of the country’s foodie culture. Every night (May 12-16, May 18, Charles Clore Park) from 5pm. It is closed on Friday, May 17.
Shabbat, exclusive food and drink options
Out-of-town visitors looking for a Shabbat dinner experience on Friday night have a handful of options. The Shabbat Dinner Project, sponsored by the city and in collaboration with EatWith, calls for people to sign up ahead of time for an authentic meal at the home of a host family in Tel Aviv.
“We are working hard in order to make sure that the Eurovision Song Contest will be an unforgettable experience for everyone, including the local residents who wish to be a part of this major tourism boom. The Shabbat Dinners Project is one of the many ways to connect the thousands of tourists to Tel Aviv families and introduce them to the wonderful Jewish tradition of Shabbat in Israel,” said Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo Ron Huldai.
Social dining initiative Betzavta and Delicious Israel, a service that offers culinary tours and tasty experiences in Tel Aviv, are also offering tourists the chance to experience Israeli hospitality and a traditional Friday night dinner. And if a meal is too heavy, Via Sabra, which specializes in Israel’s gastronomical culture, has a one-day Drink your way through Tel Aviv tour.
Or, take yourself on a DIY tour of the city’s best eats, according to the Telavivian foodie bloggers.
Light up Tel Aviv-Jaffa
Tel Aviv is known for its cool technologies, so the city has launched an app that allows visitors to choose the flag of their choice to light up City Hall for the best selfie ever. From May 12-15 (7pm-midnight), Eurovision fans can show support for their national delegation by lighting up the municipality’s building façade in the flag colors of their choice.
Visitors are also invited to control the lighting of historic Old Jaffa during the semi-finals and grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest. Based on voting tallies for each song, the coastline will light accordingly.
White Night Tel Aviv
White Night Tel Aviv (Laila Lavan) is one of the biggest cultural nights of the year and usually takes place in late June. But with Eurovision visitors in town this month, ‘the city that never sleeps’ has moved up its all-night arts and culture festival that sees dozens of events taking place simultaneously across the city to May 16, 11pm- 5am.
Tel Aviv for 10 shekels
Tel Aviv, and Israel in general, regularly feature on “most expensive city/country” lists. The Municipality has joined forces with local businesses to make this week a bit more affordable. The “Tel Aviv for 10 Shekels” campaign – will offer drinks and food for only 10 shekels at dozens of businesses around the city.
Eurovision at Tel Aviv Port
Throughout the Eurovision week, Tel Aviv Port will host music events, sporting activities and live screenings of the Eurovision shows. There will also be an exhibition about the life and career of Eurovision winner Dana International and more. Stay up to date on all the activities at the Port, here.
Viva Sarah Press is a journalist and speaker. She writes and talks about the creativity and innovation taking place in Israel and beyond. www.vivaspress.com