Celebrating Christmas in Israel 2021? Here’s EVERYTHING you need to know…


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Christmas in Bethlehem 2021

Celebrating Christmas in Israel 2021? Here’s EVERYTHING you need to know…

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christmas in israel 2021

Christmas in Israel (2021) is probably the ULTIMATE place to spend your Christmas, and we know from the traffic we get and your emails that Christmas in the Holy Land is on many a bucket list! For those of you lucky to be coming over for Christmas 2021 (and hey, we’re still not sure what exactly is going to happen this year, especially after a crazy, COVID-19 filled couple of years), this is our complete guide to the hows, the wheres, and the whys of Christmas services and events!

Included in this post (just click to jump to the relevant section): Christmas in Bethlehem 2021 | Christmas in Jerusalem 2021 | Christmas in Tel Aviv 2021 | Christmas in Nazareth 2021 | Christmas in Haifa 2021 | Christmas in the Galilee 2021

NOTE: The Christmas events listed below have been updated as & when we get confirmation – if we don’t yet have an official date we’ve added “To be confirmed”.

Don’t miss our Christmas in Israel page for a collection of Christmas articles to keep you festive!

Of course, your Christmas in Israel 2021 wouldn’t be Christmas without visiting Bethlehem, enjoying the magical alleyways of Jerusalem’s Old City, and taking part in the annual parade and Christmas Mass in Nazareth, but we’ve collected all the events and services here for you to make sure Christmas 2021 is one to remember…and check out this tour if you need an awesome, budget-friendly Christmas Eve tour of Bethlehem, highly recommended!

Note that during the Christmas celebrations the Ministry of Tourism should be providing free transport for those traveling between Jerusalem and Bethlehem (alternatively, check out our guide on getting from Jerusalem to Bethlehem). Buses will leave according to demand from Mar Elias Monastery to the Church of the Nativity, and back again, and will be operating non-stop from noon on 24 December through to noon on 25 December. 

What is Christmas called in Israel? Well, here’s an extra tidbit for you: Christmas in Israel is known by its Hebrew name, Hag HaMolad!

Christmas in Bethlehem 2021

Christmas in BethlehemChristmas in Bethlehem 2021 is a special experience. We’ve done it, and it’s a moving time, especially if you can get tickets for the Midnight Mass. You can apply for tickets here, up until December 17.

Need a budget-friendly Christmas Eve tour that takes care of all the logistics? Click here for details.

In running order of events happening for Christmas in Bethlehem, 2021:

30 November (To Be Confirmed): Lighting up of the Christmas tree in Manger Square, between 6-8 pm. More details here.

15 – 23 December: 16.30 Novena of Christmas in St Catherine.

24 December:
13.00 at the Tomb of Rachel: His Beatitude, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fuad Twal, is welcomed by Latin Parish Priest of Bethlehem and representatives of Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour.
13.30 at the Manger Square: Solemn Entry of His Beatitude into the Basilica of the Nativity and St. Catherine Church followed by Pontifical Vespers.
16.00 at St. Catherine: Daily Procession to the Nativity Grotto.
21.00 at St. Catherine: The Church opens (Tickets required).
23.15 at St. Catherine: SOLEMN “OFFICE OF READINGS”.

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25 December:
00.00 at St. Catherine: PONTIFICAL EUCHARISTIC CONCELEBRATION (Tickets required).
2.30 at the Manger Grotto: Low Masses till 5.15 (no tickets required), Interruption from 5.30 to 7.00 approximately.
7.30 at St. Catherine: PARISH MASS IN ARABIC.
10.00 at St. Catherine: PONTIFICAL CHRISTMAS MASS IN ARABIC AND LATIN.
14.00: Pilgrimage to the Greek and then to the Latin Shepherd’s Field.

26 December: Feast of St. Stephen
In the Manger Grotto: Holy Masses at 5.00 and 7.30.
At St. Catherine: Holy Masses at 6.30 (Italian), 7.00 (Arabic).
12.00: Daily procession to the Grotto of the Nativity.

27 December: Feast of St. John Evangelist
In the Manger Grotto: Holy Masses at 5.00 and 7.30.
At St. Catherine: Holy Masses at 6.30 (Italian) and 7.00 (Arabic).
12.00: Daily Procession to the Grotto.
16.45: Veneration of the Rock of Manger Grotto.

28 December: Feast of the Holy Innocents
In the Manger Grotto: Holy Masses at 5.00 and 7.30.
At St. Catherine: Holy Masses at 6.30 (Italian), 7.00 (Arabic).
10.00: SUNG MASS (Latin) IN THE GROTTO OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS.
12.00: Daily Procession to the Grotto.
14.00: Vespers in the Grotto of the Holy Innocents.

29 December:
In the Manger Grotto: Holy Masses at 5.00 and 7.30.
At St. Catherine: Holy Masses at 6.30 (Italian), 7.00 (Arabic).
12.00: Daily Procession to the Grotto.
15.00: Shepherd’s Field, Solemn Mass at in commemoration of the Shepherds.

30 December:
In the Manger Grotto: Holy Masses at 5.00 and at 8.30.
At St. Catherine: Holy Masses at 6.30 (Italian), 7.30; 9.00; 11.00; 16.30 (Arabic).

31 December: New Year’s Eve
In the Manger Grotto: Holy Masses at 5.00 and 7.30.
At St. Catherine: Holy Masses at 6.30 (Italian).
14.00 SOLEMN VESPERS WITH PROCESSION TO THE GROTTO.
16.00 Eucharistic Adoration followed by Holy Mass of Thanksgiving (Arabic) with TE DEUM.

1 January: 
In the Manger Grotto: Holy Masses at 5.00 am and 7.30.
At St. Catherine: Holy Masses at 6.30 am (Italian), 7.30 am (Arabic).
SOLEMN MASS AT 10.30 (Arabic) followed by Procession to the Milk Grotto with the Icon of Virgin Mary.

5 January: Eve of Epiphany
In the Manger Grotto: Holy Masses at 5.00 and 7.30.
11.00 at the Tomb of Rachel: His Paternity the Custos of the Holy Land is welcomed by Latin Parish Priest and other representatives of Bethlehem.
11.30 at the Manger Square: Solemn Entry of his Paternity the Custos of the Holy Land into the Basilica of the Nativity and St. Catherine Church.
13.45 at St. Catherine: PONTIFICAL VESPERS AND PROCESSION TO THE GROTTO.
15.30 at St. Catherine: OFFICE OF READINGS AND PROCESSION TO THE GROTTO.

6 January: Epiphany 
Midnight at the Grotto: Holy Masses from 00.00 till 9.00 with an interruption from 1.00 to 2.30 approximately.
7.30 at St. Catherine: Holy Mass.
10.00 at St. Catherine: PONTIFICAL MASS (Latin and Arabic).
15.30 at St. Catherine: SOLEMN VESPERS AND SOLEMN TRADITIONAL PROCESSION TO THE GROTTO: VENERATION OF THE INFANT JESUS WITH THE GIFTS OF GOLD, INCENSE AND MYRRH.

For the very latest information on services, check out www.cicts.org.

Christmas in Nazareth 2021

christmas in nazareth 2021Nazareth is a great place to visit for those of you not able to make it to Bethlehem/Jerusalem. There is the now annual Christmas Market, a Christmas Parade, and Midnight Mass in the Church of the Annunciation, so plenty to enjoy!

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The all-day Christmas Market will run in a reduced format this year at the start of December, to accompany the lighting of the Christmas tree (see below) – this may change, as in previous years, we’ll update here if it does! Here you can find some traditional Christmas goodies, gifts, and decorations. Read more here. And if you’re in the mood for some decent shopping, head to the BIG shopping mall at the entrance to Nazareth, there’s a quite impressive Christmas vibe going on every festive season, with almost every shop decorated and LOTS of Christmas trees!

And don’t miss the annual traditional lighting of the Christmas tree, located by the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation (on 6 December – To Be Confirmed).

On 24 December enjoy some real Christmas festivities, with the annual Christmas Parade starting at 15:00 (get there EARLY – the parade usually starts at Mary’s Well and continues down Paul VI Street, the main street through Nazareth), a great fireworks display at 17:30, and also on Christmas Eve enjoy the Midnight Mass in the Basilica of the Annunciation, which will start at 19:00.

On Christmas Day, all Catholic Churches have Mass. At the Church of the Annunciation the first Mass takes place at 07:00. At 10:00, a festive Mass will take place.

See more in our Christmas in Nazareth post.

Christmas in Jerusalem 2021

Christmas In Jerusalem 2021The Old City in Jerusalem is a great place to feel the Christmas vibe, with plenty of churches and sacred sites to enjoy. With the cool winter air hitting Jerusalem, it’ll probably feel a lot closer to Christmas back home than anywhere else in Israel!

You should definitely check out the Christian Quarter, where you can join Midnight Mass and other Christmas services at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, or participate in the annual Christmas program of Christ Church, just inside Jaffa Gate, for some Christmas carol singing before the mass.

If you’re feeling particularly Christian, watch out for the Christmas Holiday Bazaar at the YMCA on December 6-8 (To Be Confirmed), and the carol singing concert on Christmas Eve. For more details about their Christmas events (they also have a special Christmas tree lighting event on November 24th), click here.


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Another great Jerusalem Christmas Market takes place in the Old City at the New Gate (Collège des Frères), Muristan and Nablus Road, on Saturday – Tuesday in the week before Christmas 2021 from 4-10pm (To Be Confirmed), entrance is FREE! For more info, check out their Facebook page.

And if you’re looking for something youthful and backpackerish, head to the Christmas party at the Abraham Hostel – more details here.

Don’t miss our unforgettable tours of Jerusalem while you’re here!

Christmas in Tel Aviv 2021

christmas in tel aviv 2021Tel Aviv might be The City That Never Sleeps but celebrating Christmas it’s not particularly renowned for. OK, you might be able to get high and happy at one of Tel Aviv’s cool bars, but actually feeling the festive spirit is not easy. The one place we do know is open to some REAL Christmas vibes is the Immanuel Church in Jaffa – check out their website for official services.

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Having said that, if ice-skating is your thing and good enough for a taste of winter back home, head to the Jaffa Winter Festival, happening in the port of Old Jaffa on December 22-23 (To Be Confirmed – more here). Not sure you’ll see too much of Santa there, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers!

One event that has fast become a favorite is the annual lighting up of the huge Christmas tree in Jaffa (located at the Clock Tower at the entrance to Jaffa). This year it happens on December 15, between 5:30-8 pm (To Be Confirmed: if you do miss it, don’t worry, the tree will be lit up every night for the next month (until mid-January)).

Again, Abraham Hostels (the newest and best hostel in Tel Aviv) is the place to be if you’re looking for a Christmas Party for fellow travelers – more details here. Alternatively, if you’re feeling you need to mix it with the hipsters of Tel Aviv, head to the annual Teder FM Christmas Market!

Don’t miss our unforgettable tours of Tel Aviv while you’re here!

Christmas in the Galilee 2021

christmas in israel 2021With a number of Christian Arab villages located in the Western Galilee, you can expect to get a very decent dosage of Christmas! And with the annual Winter Festival taking place across the region, you’re almost spoilt for choice!

The festival takes place this year from December 18-20 and includes a number of special events including culinary workshops by chefs, arts and crafts workshops, a concert combined with a tour, culinary tours, group-singing and storytelling evenings, music shows, festive dinners, nature and art tours, jeep tours, Christmas tours (don’t miss the Christmas tour of Mi’ilya, which is one of only two villages in Israel whose entire population is Christian – expect streets lit with lights and Christmas trees!) and yes, even a Galilean Christmas Run! Most of the action takes place in villages like Kfar Yasif, Mi’ilya, Tarshiha, and Beit Jann.

For more details about the festival, check the official events page here.

Christmas in Haifa 2021

christmas in haifa

Without a doubt, the place to be this festive season in Haifa is the Holiday of Holidays festival.

This unique festival celebrates THREE holidays: the Jewish holiday of Hanukka, Christmas, and the Moslem holiday of Eid-al-Adha. This year – its 28th – it runs from the 19th to the 28th December (To Be Confirmed).

Haifa might not be on everybody’s bucket list for some Christmas fun, but it might just surprise you, especially in areas around the lovely German Colony, where you’ll find plenty of Christmas decorations and Christmas lights almost everywhere (see the pic to the right).

Read more here.

Happy Christmas to you and yours!

See also our latest Christmas posts: Christmas in Bethlehem | Christmas in Jerusalem | Christmas in Tel Aviv | Christmas in Nazareth | Christmas in the Galilee

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