Christmas festivities in Israel
Christmas in Israel offers pilgrims and visitors a very special and unique festive and spiritual experience, with the opportunity to spend Christmas in the ancient city of Jerusalem, to participate in Christmas festivities and Mass in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth and visit the many Christian sites in the Galilee as well as participate in the Holiday of Holidays Festival in Haifa.
As in previous years, from 15:00 on Christmas Eve (December 24) through to 03:00 on Christmas Day, the Ministry of Tourism will offer free shuttle transportation, helping pilgrims travelling between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Buses will leave every 30 minutes on the hour and half hour from the bus stop near the Carta Parking lot (opposite Jaffa Gate and near to the Mamilla Boulevard). The bus will also stop near the entrance to the Mar Elias Monastery, and at the Rosmarin junction, before continuing via Rachel’s Crossing to Bethlehem – and then back again
Special Events for Christmas
Here are some of the highlights and special events that are happening around Israel over the festive season.
December 18- December 22
The Nazareth Municipality, The Orthodox Community Council and Nazareth Cultural and Tourism Association produce a festive Nazareth Christmas Market which includes Christmas Market Festival and Lighting of the Christmas tree from Monday, December 18 at 19:30 through to Friday December 22 at 22:00. For more information: http://www.nazarethinfo.org/en
16:00 Traditional parade of thousands of youth from youth movements, together with the leaders of the Christian communities, through the main street of Nazareth. The parade ends at the plaza in front of the Basilica. It is expected that there will be 30,000 participants.
19:00 Christmas Mass in the Basilica of the Annunciation
00:00 Midnight Mass in the Basilica of the Annunciation
All Catholic Churches celebrate Mass. At the Church of the Annunciation the first Mass will begin at 07:00, with a festive Mass taking place at 10:00.
There are many Christmas celebrations taking place in Jerusalem during December.
The Christmas Tree will be lit at the New Gate at the Old City of Jerusalem on December 14.
A Christmas Concert will be held at the Church of the Redeemer on December 17.
December 18-December 20
The Christmas Holiday Bazaar with stalls full of original Christmas goods and crafts centered around a giant Christmas tree takes place at the YMCA, open from Friday December 18 – Sunday December 20. Santa Claus is there to greet children, a snow machine, arts and craft workshops for children are also available. Admission is free. See here for more details: http://ymca.org.il/blog/christmas-events-eng/
December 18-December 20
A fun imaginative pantomime show full of holiday cheer for children. “Who? What? Mime!” – A pantomime show for children, without words at the YMCA. http://ymca.org.il/blog/christmas-events-eng/
The Inbalim Handbell Ensemble creates an uplifting experience for music lovers. The enchanting chimes of these bells combined with the masterful performance of the ensemble promises a wonderful visual and acoustic occasion. Tickets can be purchased at the YMCA. http://ymca.org.il/blog/christmas-events-eng/
A rich musical, mosaic of sounds collected from around the world in the Trio Concert performed at the YMCA by Trio with Flutes – Hagit Rozmarin, Spanish Guitar – Eyal Laber, Percussion an Qanun – Eyal Loman http://ymca.org.il/blog/christmas-events-eng/
For over 60 years, the YMCA has held a Christmas Party for orphans in which 600 of Jerusalem’s neediest youngsters participate for a day of fun and entertainment at the YMCA. http://ymca.org.il/blog/christmas-events-eng/
The Jerusalem International YMCA is one of the oldest landmarks in Jerusalem. The historic building has always served as a center of culture, sport and a place of reconciliation since its establishment in 1878 and is one of the main bastions for Christmas celebrations in Jerusalem. This year’s Christmas Carols Concert at the YMCA hosts: Professor Gabi Scheffler – Bells (CARILLON), Woodwind Quintet, the “Inbalim” Ensemble, Sounds of Gilo choir, the Jerusalem International YMCA youth choir and the Israeli Opera soloists. Maria Yoffe – soprano, Simon Kricheli – tenor, Ella Danzig – piano. The concert will finish with a sing-along, where the conductor will lead the audience in familiar hymns of Christmas Eve. http://ymca.org.il/blog/christmas-events-eng/
The American Colony Hotel offers a festive Christmas Eve Dinner as well as an extensive Christmas Day Buffet lunch. http://www.americancolony.com/the-hotel/our-buildings.htm
Throughout December, Haifa celebrates for the 24rd time a unique and special event, the “Holiday of Holidays” festival. This exclusive holiday combines the celebration of three religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. “Holiday of Holidays” activities are held during the weekends, and they symbolize the values of coexistence, living together in peace and harmony, and mutual respect of all six religions in the city, joining the residents’ lives and fate together. The festival is an initiative of Beit Hagefen – an Arabic-Jewish cultural centre – and Haifa Municipality, who founded the festival in 1993. The holiday takes place in the Arab Wadi Nisnas neighborhood and extends to the German Colony at the foot of the Baha’i’ Gardens.
During the “Holiday of Holidays” the following activities are featured: an Antique Fair, an arts and crafts fair, special authentic foodstuffs prepared by residents of Wadi Nisnas and music by artists of all ethnicities, liturgical music concerts in churches, street theater, Friday shows in Beit Hagefen auditorium, Holiday of Holidays exhibitions in galleries and around the festival center, downtown tours and art exhibitions.
For more information: http://haifahag.com/?lang=2
A yearly event in Tel Aviv-Jaffo is the lighting of the 15 meter-high Christmas tree at the Clock Tower. The tree will be lit for the first time between 18:00 – 20:00.
Here are the service times in Jerusalem, Nazareth and Bethlehem: Full schedule: http://www.cicts.org/default.asp?id=687