If you want to spend an unforgettable Christmas, you definitely need to visit Israel at this time.
At Christmas, Israel invites tourists and pilgrims from all over the world to plunge into a very spiritual and eventful holiday atmosphere.
During Christmas in Israel you can visit the Old City of Jerusalem to participate Mass in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth and visit many Holy sites in the Galilee as well as join the Holiday of Holidays Festival in Haifa.
Throughout the holiday season, Israel Ministry of Tourism provides a free transportation from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. Buses will be sent from the Carta car park at Mamilla Boulevard, via the Mar Elias Monastery to the Church of the Nativity, and back again. This ride will be available every half-hour from 15:00 on 24 December through to 03:00 on 25 December. In the spirit of Holiday, official representatives of the Ministry of Tourism will welcome tourists with sweets. This will occur at Rachel’s Crossing.
Visitors wishing to participate in the Midnight Christmas Mass in St. Catherine’s in Bethlehem, can order tickets at this link: http://www.cicts.org/default.asp?id=353
Christmas in Nazareth
18:00 – The official lighting of the Christmas Tree on Paulo VI Street.
The program includes live music offered from famous artists. http://www.nazarethinfo.org/show_item.asp?levelid=63181
The lighting of The Christmas Tree at Mary’s Well will also take place in a joyous atmosphere.
December 13 – 20
The Municipality of Nazareth is holding a special festive Christmas Market — a street fair with tasty food, different arts and unique crafts.
December 19 – A festive combined Hanukkah and Christmas concert featuring Galilee Orchestra, the Upper Galilee Choir and singer Keren Hadar, directed by Yishai Shtekler. This concert will take place at the Industrial Park in Nazareth at 20:00, complete with Christmas tree and a mulled wine reception at 19:30.
15:30 – Traditional parade of thousands of youth from different youth movements, along with the leaders of the Christian congregations. The parade goes through the main street of Nazareth and ends at the square in front of the Basilica. It is expected that there will be about 30,000 participants.
17:30 – Fireworks, sponsored by the Tourism Ministry, to announce the official opening of the Christmas celebrations
19:00 – Christmas Mass in the Basilica of the Annunciation. On December 25 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.
Christmas in the City of Jerusalem
There are many Christmas related events taking place in Jerusalem during December.
17:30 – Christmas Tree decorating at the YMCA. Children of Jerusalem are invited to decorate the Christmas Tree, followed by singing carols and asking Santa for wishes. Free admission http://ymca.org.il/blog/christmas-events-eng/
December 18 – December 19
Christmas Holiday Bazaar at the YMCA lively fair of stalls full of original Christmas goods and handicrafts. There will be also a giant Christmas tree, music from the tower bells, Santa Claus actors granting children’s wishes, snow machines, workshops for children and a festive make-up stand. Free Admission. The Bazaar will take place: Friday, December 18th from 10 AM to 3 PM; Saturday December 19th from 10 AM to 6 PM; Sunday December 20th from 4 PM to 9 PM
14:00 – Christmas Party for Jerusalem’s Orphans at the YMCA. For over 60 years, the YMCA has provided 600 of Jerusalem’s neediest children a day of fun and entertainment that includes receiving gift packages. A few tickets will be available, price: NIS 50. All proceeds will go to cover the cost of the event.
20:00 – Christmas Carols Concert at the YMCA. The Annual Christmas carols concert this year 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 grand finale will be a sing-along, where the conductor will lead the audience in familiar hymns of Christmas Eve. http://ymca.org.il/blog/christmas-events-eng/
Special tours are run by the Abraham Hostel including one to Bethlehem on Christmas Eve. https://abrahamhostels.com/jerusalem/bar-events/
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
Service times in Jerusalem, Nazareth and Bethlehem:
Thursday, 24th December 2015, Christmas Eve: Church of the Nativity – St. Catherine 13.30 – Entry of the Latin patriarch into the Basilica of the Nativity and into the Church of St. Catherine. 14.00 – First Vespers. 16.00 – Procession to the Grotto of the Nativity. 23.00 – Office of the lectures. 00.00 – Christmas Vigil presided by H.B. Fuad Twal, Latin patriarch of Jerusalem. 01.45 – Procession to the Grotto.
Friday, 25th December 2015, Christmas day: St. Catherine’s Church 10.00 – Solemn Christmas Mass. 14.00 – Spiritual Pilgrimage to Shepherd’s Field.
Saturday, 26th December 2015, Day of St. Stephen: Jerusalem – St. Stephen’s Church 16:00 – Spiritual Pilgrimage.
Sunday, 27th December 2015, Feast of the Holy Family: Nazareth – Basilica of the Annunciation 10.00 – Solemn Mass and Procession to the “House of the Holy Family”.
Monday, 28th December 2015, Feast of the Holy Innocents: Bethlehem – St. Catherine;s Church 10.00 – Solemn Mass.
More information you can find here: http://cicts.org/default.asp?de=1&gg=24&mm=12&aa=2013&tipologia=0&id=356
Christmas in Tel Aviv – Jaffa
Through November to January the old Jaffa Port hosts the first ever Christmas Market. This festive and magic event will be happening in cooperation with the Israeli Food Channel. An astonishing Christmas Tree, spectacular lights and snow cannons among many other festive traditions will set the mood for the holiday season. Dozens of booths with fresh Israeli produce such as olive oil, fruits and vegetables directly from the farms. Gourmet delicacies from famous cooks and chefs and winter holiday goods for all faiths with no doubt won’t disappoint visitors.
Other attractions of this Market are special cooking classes taught by top Israeli chefs, fun activities for children run by “Nickelodeon” Television Channel and many live music shows.
Christmas in Haifa
There is a unique multicultural festival called “Chag Ha-Hagim” – “The Feast of Feasts” that takes place in Haifa during December 8-24, 2015. This one of its kind holiday combines the celebration of three major holidays of three religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Since 1994, when this holiday took place for the first time, this year there will be 22nd time of the celebration. Many festive activities are held during the weekends, and they promote the values of living in peace, harmony and mutual respect of all religions of this diverse city.
“The Feast of feasts” is a holiday that can be celebrated only in Haifa. It supports a lifestyle that has developed here over the years and generations. This feast attracts representatives of the creative environment – musicians, actors, artists and photographers. During the New Year celebrations you can find here a lot of exhibitions, installations, visit the circus and jugglers, and try the best works of culinary art.
The holiday takes place in the Arab neighborhood Wadi Nisnas and extends to the German Colony at the foot of the famous Baha’i’s 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 Nisna and music by artists of all ethnicity, circus and many more fun events for the family.
On December 17 there will be a special international “Peace Concert”. The famous Italian musical band Band Adriatica will perform in Beit HaGefen. Accompanying the band will be senior officials from the Italian government and public figures. http://www.bandadriatica.com/?lang=en