After a particularly rainy winter, the Negev is now carpeted in green and is covered with millions of red anemones ("kalaniot" in Hebrew), growing on roadsides and in fields, forests and nature reserves.
The annual festival is known as Darom Adom ("red south"). While the name is a tribute to the bright red flowers, it is also a nod to the Color Red siren which indicates an incoming missile fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel's southern communities.
The festival was launched eight years ago, when the rocket fire was at its height, as a way of drawing visitors to the region and enabling them to show solidarity and support local businesses. It has since gone from strength to strength and has become a yearly tradition.
The program includes hikes and guided nature walks, farmers’ markets, workshops, craft markets and concerts.
This year’s festival took place just three months after Operation Pillar of Defense. While the operation significantly reduced the capacity of Hamas to fire rockets into Israel, the region has not been completely quiet.
Reprinted with permission from Shalom Life