The festival turned out to be a lot more low-key than I had expected. Participants were led through the narrow, cobble stone streets of the Old City where actors in costume played out different roles along the way. At the entrance there was a human statue that everyone watched closely, to see if they could catch her moving. Further down was a ragged hunchback with a wooden cart and then three women in Renaissance period dresses, lined up on a set of stairs, singing. When we came to the "slave market" the "merchant" threw a rope around my friend and tried to sell her, but my friend stormed away in a huff when no one was willing to pay more that 25 shekel for her (and I wasn't buying her- I needed my cash).
It continued this way, with different Renaissance characters along the way, leading the audience to an open area with a lighted fountain. There, there was some dancing and a performance with fire and then we were led away towards the Arab market where vendors hawked there wares loudly, trying to take advantage of the surge of potential customers.
I was disappointed that there wasn't any festival food or any booths selling interesting products, other than the usual stuff you would find in the Arab Shuk (pomegranate juice, loaves of bread and glittery knickknacks). But I did still enjoy myself. The best part, though, was actually getting to walk around the Muslim area of the Old City. While I've spent a lot of time in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, which is one of my favorite places in Israel, I've never gotten to go into the Muslim area because it's not safe for Jews there. The Jews that do live in that area are often accompanied by body guards. But tonight everyone was freely walking through all areas of the Old City and I loved getting to look around the parts that I've never gotten to see before. I was particularly surprised to see that there was a large, beautiful fountain in the middle of the Muslim quarter, which I had never known about and was a bit sad to think that it is unlikely I will get to see it again.
All, in all, I had a good time, even though the event didn't quite live up to my expectations. And after my friend and I finished we went to grab some food and I had schwarma for the first time ever (I know, it's crazy. Seven years in Israel and I've never had a schwarma- but I just usually prefer to go with falafel).
Every time I go to one of these Israeli festivals I come away wanting to put together one of my own; an American style one with good food and lots of interactive activities (isn't there supposed to be jousting?) So if anyone reading this wants to join forces with me in putting together a festival here, in Israel, let me know.
And if you have ever attend a Renaissance festival, can you tell me what your favorite thing about it was? I should start taking notes if I want to put together one of my own.