This year, the festival of Hanukkah takes place between Saturday 8th December and Sunday 16th December. Also known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is a happy and joyous celebration in the Jewish calendar and is a time when Jewish communities across the world come together to give gifts, eat and drink and of course light the symbolic candles. Here is a list of some of the best places around the world where you can see beautiful public menorahs lit up while feasting on Kosher treats.
Being the champion of Christmas markets, it’s no surprise that Germany’s biggest city has special Hanukkah stores at many of its Christmas markets; so be sure to explore the wooden huts to find beautiful handmade dreidels and menorahs. Speaking of which, each year a giant menorah is assembled in front of the Brandenburg Gate where crowds gather every evening to see a new light switched on. The thought-provoking Jewish Museum also celebrates Hanukkah and has a number of special events over the Hanukkah period including puppet shows for the kids.
Brandenburger Tor – Image © Gertrud K
Weihnachtsmarkt – Image © Gertrud K
With pockets of London being home to various Jewish denominations for centuries, seeing lit up menorah in the windows of homes and shops is a common sight across the city – while a huge public one will be lit for all to see and enjoy in Trafalgar Square. Special festivities including workshops for making dreidels and lamps from recycled materials will also be taking place at the Jewish Museum in Camden. Plus, don’t forget to head to the predominantly Jewish areas of Stamford Hill or Golders Green to find the tastiest traditional treats including sufganiyot – special Jewish doughnuts – and latkes – a traditional Jewish pancake eaten at Hanukkah.
Image © Dean Ayres
Image © Peter Trimming
Montreal in Canada is home to one of North America’s largest Jewish populations, and the predominantly Jewish suburbs of Mile End and Saint Laurent Boulevard are definitely among the places to be during Hanukkah. With Jewish delis and restaurants like the famous Schwartz serving the city’s famous smoked meats all year round, expect extra long queues and a bubbling atmosphere during Hanukkah. You also can’t leave without trying the bagels made at only two exclusive places (Farimount and St Viatueur). They are famous for being different – slightly smaller and a little sweeter – than New York bagels.
Bagg Street Synagogue, Montreal © sashamd
Image © Marcio Cabral de Moura
Never ones to do things in half measures, the Americans begin celebrating the eight day Festival of Lights my lighting the world’s largest menorah. Standing at 32 feet tall, this 2 tonne candelabra has to be lit by a rabbi on a cherry picker. Celebrators in Grand Army Plaza can expect many sights, sounds, tastes and activities; including live music and dancing followed by ‘Hanukkah Gelt’ (chocolate money) for the kids and potato latkes for everyone.
Image © Alex E. Proimos
New York’s Big Menorah © Tasayu Tasnaphun
Wherever you plan to celebrate Hanukkah this year, most celebrations will include a candle-lighting ceremony each evening so make sure to attend more than one to get the most out of the experience. And wherever you happen to be, we wish you a joyous celebration filled with loved ones and plenty of holiday treats.