Christmas in Bethlehem is an amazing experience.
There are also services in Jerusalem and Nazareth as well as services held at the actual locations in Bethlehem where Christmas events took place. Tour buses leave Jerusalem on Christmas Eve to services in Shepherd’s Fields (where an angel appeared to the shepherds on Christmas Eve). The tours visits Lutheran Church in Bethlehem and ends at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem for the Midnight Mass.
MORE ABOUT THE CHRISTMAS EVE TOUR TO JERUSALEM AND BETHLEHEM
What better place to be on Christmas Eve than where it all began 2,014 years ago on the night that Jesus was born. All Christians are familiar with the symbols and places mentioned in the story of Jesus’ birth for example the manger, Shepherds’ Field and Bethlehem. But in Israel these places come to life. You can literally drive passed Shepherds’ Field and visit the grotto where Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
Christians from around the world gather in Bethlehem each year to celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas Eve. The holiday events take place in and around Manger Square where the Church of the Nativity and St Catherine’s’ Church are located. The Church of the Nativity was constructed above the grotto believed to have been the holy manger. It is one of the oldest churches in the world and perhaps the most important in Christian tradition.
Tours to Bethlehem on Christmas Eve begin in Jerusalem with a panoramic view across the city from the Mount of Olives. From here you can look down on the Old City, the Dome of the Rock and the ancient city walls. On a brief visit to the Old City you can see the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which marks the site of Jesus’ crucifixion. Walk through the Christian Quarter and feel the joy and excitement that the holiday brings to the city. From the Mount of Evil Counsel, where the High Priest ordered the arrest of Jesus, you can get another breathtaking view across the city. From here you can see Mount Moriah, Mount Zion, the Kidron Valley and the Mount of Olives with the golden domes of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Church of All Nations. In the distance are the Judean Desert and the route to Bethlehem.
The tour leaves Jerusalem on route to Bethlehem passed the Inn of the Good Samaritan, Shepherds’ Field and across the Israel/Palestine border. In Bethlehem visitors on Christmas Eve can see the decorated streets and shop windows and browse the souvenir stores in this historic city. In Manger Square the atmosphere is magical, carol singing, prayer and festivities. The evening begins with a sumptuous Christmas meal in a restaurant overlooking Manger Square. The crowds gather and the excitement mounts as visitors await the midnight hour. Among the crowds gathering in Manger Square you will see the distinct traditional clothing of priests, monks, nuns and religious leaders as well as tourists and Christians. Before the Midnight Mass there may be a chance to peek inside the Church of the Nativity.
The Midnight Mass is held in the Church of the Nativity and although entry is limited to select guests you can watch the service on large outdoor screens in Manger Square. This is a very emotional and moving experience for Christians. At the end of a full and emotional evening visitors are transported safely back to their hotels in Israel.