Chrismtas in Tel Aviv-Jaffa. Photo: Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality
75,000 visitors are expected to arrive in Israel for the Christmas period. According to Tourism Ministry estimates, 25,000 of these visitors will be pilgrims.
Christmas services for tourists and locals will be held in Christian communities throughout Israel.
In Jerusalem, dozens of churches scattered throughout the Christian Quarter of the Old City including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion, the Tomb of the Virgin on Mount of Olives and the Garden Tomb just outside the Old City will hold services and celebrations.
Visitors to Bethlehem, just six miles south of Jerusalem, will be able to experience the annual Midnight Mass in the Basilica of the Nativity, preceded by the ceremonial welcoming of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem to Bethlehem. The Israel Ministry of Tourism will offer free transportation, helping pilgrims travelling between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Nazareth hosts a traditional Christmas market, selling Christmas decorations and gifts. On Christmas Eve, December 24, 2013, the traditional parade of thousands of local youth, together with the leaders of the Christian communities, will pass through Nazareth.
In Jaffa, a huge Christmas tree placed in the old city will stay lit throughout the month of December and Yefet Street will also be lit with festive Christmas lights.
President Shimon Peres visiting at the Franciscan Church in Ramla
Photo: GPO/Mark Neiman