Christmas in Jerusalem is a truly unique time of year. Thousands of pilgrims come to the city to celebrate Christmas in the place where it all began (nearby in Bethlehem). The city, in particular, the Old City’s Christian and Armenian quarters, become adorned with decorations, while other Jerusalem landmarks such as the YMCA, along with the city’s churches, celebrate by holding services and carol concerts. Below are some of the best things to do in Jerusalem during Christmas.
Because of health regulation and Corona’s far reaching impact, many events have unfortunately been cancelled this holiday season. We hope that you enjoy this festive time of the year nonetheless, and wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Below is a selection of events from 2019 to give you an idea of what to expect.
Jerusalem Christmas concerts
- YMCA Christmas Mark – December 6-8, 2019. A huge market offers hundreds of Christmas products, handmade crafts, pastries, sweets, and hot drinks, all centered around the Christmas tree.
- Christmas Concert at the YMCA on December 24, 2019, 19:30 – 21:30 – Enjoy performances by over 80 singers and musicians, including the Jerusalem Street Orchestra, Oratorio Jerusalem Choir, the Jerusalem Youth Choir, and the YMCA Academy Orchestra. Sing along with the best Christmas songs to ring in the holiday.
- Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem (Franciscan Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament)
- Pontifical Institute, Notre Dame Center (New Gate, Tel. 02-6279111, Fax: 02-6271995), holds multi-lingual masses
Midnight Mass in Bethlehem
Midnight mass in Bethlehem is a unique experience. Our organized Christmas in Bethlehem tour is available every year from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Herzliya, and includes all guiding, transport, and a special festive dinner. Entry to the church is difficult and usually pre-arranged by ballot. Spaces on the tour are limited so we recommend booking early.
Christmas in the Old City
In the Old City, head to the Via Dolorosa and watch pilgrims from around the world walk this famous route with the cross of Christ over their shoulders. While the visit can be made at any time of year, it’s definitely more special on Christmas!
In the days leading up to Christmas and directly after Christmas, explore the rest of the city on a day tour that takes you around the Old City as well as the modern areas.