As most of Israel recovers from a gorging of sufganiyout and latkes, Christians and even some Muslims and Jews are gearing up for the other big holiday of the season: Christmas.

The celebration of one of the most important holidays in the Christian calendar can be seen all over the Western Galilee, where a special winter festival is underway to commemorate the occasion so Israelis of all faiths can join in on the fun.

The festival, coordinated by Western Galilee Now (WGN), a consortium of small businesses throughout the region, offers workshops, traditional foods, wine tasting and concerts featuring Christmas carols in English and Arabic.

The festival is a flagship project for WGN, a partner of Jewish National Fund, to develop the North - a place often overlooked by Israelis, despite its breathtaking scenery and plethora of activities tailor-made for tourists.

"This is a piece of the puzzle. What's good for them, is good for everybody," JNF Israel Communications Officer, Eric Narrow said of the organization whose business model relies on each partner looking out for the other.

In other words, as WGN works to increase tourism in the region, it is only one of the many sectors in need of development so people will be enticed to visit and even live up north.

With many festival attendees from other northern villages and even the center participating in the festivities, it seems the WGN formula is working.

At Aluma Bistro, for example, which is found on a quiet country road between Kfar Vardim and Tarshiha, two sisters from Hod Hasharon decided to pay a visit and stay for the weekend.

"We thought it was a nice change of pace for us," Anne, told The Jerusalem Post as diners enjoyed an extravagant Christmas dinner with unlimited wine was served to guests. Mouth-watering entrecote carved from the bone served with makulba was also on offer to guests for 220 NIS per person.

For the remainder of the festival, which ends on Sunday, attendees can partake in a variety of events like a vegan cooking workshop in Clil a small village in the Western Galilee; horseback riding in a ranch and a Christmas-themed wine tasting at Ashkar Winery

For those unable to visit, The Jerusalem Post will broadcast live Friday night as the festival hosts a special Israeli-Greek celebration with singer Dorit Farkash who performs in both Ladino and Hebrew.

"Our goal is to connect to people in an informal way and being in the Western Galilee shows that coexistence and multi-culturalism is possible," Michal Shiloah, the director of WGN said.

For more information on a list of available events, please visit

This article was written in cooperation with JNF-USA.

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