Thursday Night Madness in Mahane Yehuda Vibrant Middle Eastern market by day and party central by night
Throngs of locals and tourists are drawn during the day to witness the authentic atmosphere and workings of the market, and of course do some shopping, and once the food vendors close up, revelers — foreign and local alike — descend on the market to drink and make marry in the bars, restaurants and alleyways.
The shuk never really takes a day off during the week, but if you’re looking for a truly electrifying night out, then Thursday is your target. For locals, it’s the only night can go out without having to worry about getting up for work the next day, and it shows, as the bars and restaurants stay open late, throw parties that spill out into the streets and host special events.
My “date” and I arrived at 7:20 pm, when many of the vendors were still open, and the aisles were crowded with shoppers looking for weekend bargains.
However, as the vendors closed, the shoppers quickly dissipated making room for the party people.
Although, it seems like yesterday that the shuk was just a place where you shopped and maybe grabbed a bite to eat from a local, working class eatery, over the past 5 years or so, the number of hip bars and restaurants has skyrocketed to the point that you can hardly keep track of everything between new ones popping every day and secret spots hidden away in corners only the locals know about.
“When you see the throngs of partiers at the shuk on a Thursday night, it is easy to forget that just a few short years ago you wouldn’t find a soul here at night,” said local tour guide Joel Haber. “But the truth is, this is not just the next logical step in Machane Yehuda’s constant historical development, but also the most vibrant new contribution to the city’s nightlife scene. The shuk has always been the crossroads where all Jerusalemites mix. Now the young and the less so, secular and religious, all sit side by side drinking beers and drinking in the shuk’s special character.”