Jerusalem is touted by many as “the place where it all began” given its proximity to Bethlehem. So, if you want to experience an unforgettable Christmas in Jerusalem, make sure to include a trip to the Holy City – and in particular, the Old City – in your Israel itinerary.
During the most wonderful time of the year, the Old City’s Christian and Armenian quarters come to life with decorations that definitely scream, “Christmas!”. Still not quite as “merry” as you’d find back home, this is probably going to be the very best place to find some tinsel and Santa hats in Jerusalem!
In the Christian Quarter, you can join Midnight Mass, as well as other Christmas services, programs, and concerts at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Christ Church, which is just inside Jaffa Gate.
Another great option on Christmas Eve, is to join the Christians who follow in the footsteps of Jesus from his trial to the site of his crucifixion and burial at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, via the fabulous stops of the Via Dolorosa in the Old City. The event is made extra special with the Christmas spirit wafting through the air.
Even the YMCA gets involved in Christmas in Jerusalem services and programs so don’t miss them. They also hold a Christmas Holiday Bazaar, usually around December 15, as well as a carol singing concert on Christmas Eve. They also have a cute Christmas tree lighting event, which usually takes place at the end of November. See here for more details about YMCA’s Christmas events.
If Christmas markets are your thing, head to the Jerusalem Christmas Market at the New Gate of the Old City (Collège des Frères), Muristan and Nablus Road, on Saturday- Tuesday, 15-18 December 2018 from 4-10pm. Best thing of all, it’s FREE to enter. For more info, check out their Facebook page.
Other Christmas services in Jerusalem include:
– Christmas Eve mass at the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center, built by the Vatican in the 19th century.
– Christmas-inspired concerts at the Lutheran Church of Augusta Victoria on the Mount of Olives.
– The Garden Tomb, where many protestants gather over the Christmas period.
A good suggestion for the more youthful and backpackers is the annual Christmas party held in Abraham Hostel. If you’re in a partying mood, you should definitely check it out. For more details, click here.