After being postponed twice due to continuous rocket fire from Gaza, Ashkelon’s annual pop music festival Briza was confirmed for August 24-30.
“It might look crazy to bring thousands of people to Ashkelon for Briza,” said Efi Maimon, one of the festival organizers, on Monday. “But people need this festival. The children of the south have lost their summer.”
The festival is celebrating its 23rd summer, and will be two days longer this year, said Maimon.
“We need to make it even more fun this year,” said Maimon at the press conference, held facing the nearly empty Ashkelon Beach. “We owe this festival to our soldiers and to the people of Ashkelon. They have suffered too much.”
Israeli pop sensations Eyal Golan, Rita, Miri Mesika, Shiri Maimon, Mosh Ben Ari, Keren Peles, Shimon Bouskilla, and hip-hop group Hadag Nahash are set to perform during the festival.
Briza will take place in Ashkelon National Park with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Sport as part of its series of cultural activities and performances for the residents of the south throughout July and August.
Soldiers who fought in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge can attend for free.
“I’m coming to Briza to hug the people from the south, and to be hugged by them,” said Eyal Golan.
Golan, like many of the other performers, said he had several of his performances canceled this summer, including one in nearby Ashdod.
The city of Ashkelon has a lot of potential, said Mayor Itamar Shimoni, who insisted on holding the festival despite the ongoing conflict. “Every time a war like this breaks out, we are drawn 10 years back in time. But we are not going to give in to Hamas. We have many plans for the future and we’ll keep proceeding on this track.”
According to Gilad Oren, general manager of the Ashkelon Development Company, local businesses have been shuttered all summer.
“The owners have had to pay rent, taxes, and salaries, without any customers,” he said, pointing at the catering hall where the press conference took place.
Canceling “a major event like Briza would be a huge victory for Hamas,” he added. “The festival this year turned into a big statement against Hamas.”
The festival, which includes daily concerts, will also set up a center of activities for adults and kids, with rides, a T-shirt market, and games suitable for preschoolers.
The Rita concert will be free for southern residents, and NIS 119 for all other Israeli residents. Eyal Golan tickets are NIS 69 for southern residents and NIS 119 for all other residents. Check the Zappa website for ticket prices and purchases.