With the first signs of spring comes the most popular holiday in Israel: Easter. Every year, thousands of visitors travel to Israel to spend a memorable Easter in Israel’s holy and historic sites. The crowds and options can be overwhelming. Therefore, we’ve created the ultimate guide for you to get the most out of your once-in-a-lifetime experience of Easter in Israel. Read on to find out where to go on your trip, as well as information about all the 2019 Easter events.

Palm Sunday

easter-in-israel_palm-sundayIn 2019, the fun begins on April 14th, which is Palm Sunday. On this day, many Christians head up the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. They do this to recreate Jesus’s entrance to the holy city of Jerusalem. Next, you’ll proceed through the iconic streets of Old Jerusalem and join the procession that goes down the Via Dolorosa. On the way, you’ll pass some beautiful sites, such as Saint Anne Church and Steven’s Gate. You can choose to either take part in this amazing procession, or join the onlookers lining the sides of the streets. Whatever you choose, this is sure to be an unforgettable experience! There is definitely no better way to kickstart your Easter in Israel trip than Palm Sunday in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Over the next week until Good Friday, there are daily masses happening at a few locations in Jerusalem, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Garden of Gethsemane church.

The schedule for Palm Sunday in Jerusalem is as follows:

  • 8:00am: Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Pontifical Mass
  • 3:10pm: St. Savior’s Church, Pilgrimage and Washing of the Feet service
  • 9:00pm: Garden of Gethsemane, Prayer and holy hour

Discover our expert tips for traveling in Israel to make the most out of your Easter in Israel experience!

Good Friday

easter-in-israel_via dolorosaIf you’re here for Easter in Israel, then celebrating Good Friday is a given. This year, it falls on April 19th (which is also the same date as the Jewish holiday of Passover). Good Friday will also see tons of visitors lining the streets of Jerusalem. Many visit the Old City to recreate the pilgrimage of Jesus’s journey to be crucified. The Way of the Cross procession will begin around noon. However, be sure to arrive to Jerusalem with plenty of time, as there will be massive crowds who all want to be a part of the amazing procession. Pilgrims will head down the Via Dolorosa, and many of them will carry crosses on their backs to symbolize Christ’s walk to his crucification.

The Good Friday schedule is as follows:

  • 7:15am: Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, Celebration of the Passion of Christ
  • 12:15pm: Via Dolorosa, The Way of the Cross procession
  • 8:10pm: Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, “Funeral Procession”

Looking for ideas on where to spend next Christmas in Israel? See our roundup of Christmas events here!

Holy Saturday

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On Holy Saturday, huge crowds of Christian pilgrims go to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. You can also go witness the incredible Holy Fire annual miracle. The Holy Fire starts as two candles lit by the Patriarch of Jerusalem over Jesus’s tomb. He prays and uses these two candles to light the candles of other pilgrims. The light gets passed around from pilgrim to pilgrim, until every candle is lit. It is said that the Holy Fire does not burn, and you can often witness many pilgrims waving their hands through the flames (though we do advise caution).

On Saturday, you’ll also find an Armenian parade, consisting of a marching band with drums, bagpipes, and procession to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

There is also an English sunrise service at The Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Here is the schedule in Jerusalem for Holy Saturday:

  • 6:30am: Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Easter Vigil
  • 3:30pm: Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Entry and solemn procession
  • 6:00pm: Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Solemn Vespers the Holy Tomb

Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday are the main events. However, on Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, there are further processions and masses at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

After you’ve experienced a traditional Easter in Israel, there are still tons of other holy Christian sites for you to explore! Stick around for a few days and visit the towns of Bethlehem and Nazareth. Furthermore, you can also enjoy the natural sites of the Holy Land with a visit to the Sea of Galilee, the Negev desert, and the Dead Sea.

Holy Land Christian Sites Private Tour

Contact us for help in planning your perfect Easter in Israel tour. Leave the planning to the experts and we’ll make sure you don’t miss out on any part of this important holiday!

Thanks to a mild winter, Israel doesn’t experience the holiday season like other countries. Christmas is never white and you won’t find massive lighting decorating the main streets. However, this doesn’t mean that the holiday season in Israel is any less exciting. With Hanukkah and Christmas usually falling within the same couple of weeks in December, there are multiple events around the country to please even the most hardened Grinch.

Unlike Christmas, Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days to commemorate the miraculous burning of oil on the ancient temple’s menorah for eight days when there was only enough oil for one. Therefore, you will find exciting events happening on all nights of the holiday.

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The Old City of Jerusalem is always spectacular to visit, but the festival of lights makes it an even more special experience with all the lit Menorahs around the city. Visit the Western Wall on any night of Hanukkah to take part in the lighting of the 2-meter-high bronzed Menorah. Lighting takes place every night of the holiday at 4:30pm, except for Friday at 3:30pm and Saturday at 7:00pm.

If you’re in the north, make sure to stop by Haifa for any of the Holiday of Holidays events taking place throughout the month of December. Go to discover different cultural events surrounding the major holidays of Hanukkah, Christmas, and Ramadan. There are different concerts, exhibits, shows, and antique fairs to keep you busy for even longer than eight days! Even farther north in the scenic city of Safed, you will find events for the whole family during Hanukkah, many of them focusing on artistic, historical, and religious activities. Check out their calendar of events for more details.

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Make sure to stop by any of the bakeries around the country to sample some mouth-watering sufganiot (donuts). Get the classic jelly-stuffed donut or opt for a fancier version topped with chocolates, nuts, candy, or anything else the master bakers have come up with this season! If you’re in Tel Aviv and want to get into the spirit of the holiday, you don’t need to trek all the way to the capital; celebrate Hanukkah like a local and light the menorah in Gan Ha’atzmaut (Independence Park).

For those wishing to experience Christmas in Israel, there are still many unique options for you too! Head over to Bethlehem for the famous Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity. Get the full experience of the birthplace of Jesus by joining our Christmas Eve tour, which includes an unforgettable Christmas Feast!

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If you’re in Nazareth, there will be special events all month in preparation for Christmas. Stop by the Christmas Market for a street fair and the lighting of the Christmas tree between December 17th – 22nd. You can also go and watch the Christmas Parade on December 23rd, starting at 3:00pm. Take part in a special Christmas Mass at the Basilica of Annunciation on December 24th, or visit any of the Catholic churches during the evening of December 25th.

While Jaffa is magical year round, it is even more of a special visit around Christmas time. Since Jaffa is home to Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike, the meandering alleyways of this old city are decked out with lights, menorahs, and Christmas trees. The official lighting of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Christmas tree is on December 17th and 6:00pm at the Clock Tower.

Interested in celebrating Christmas in the Holy Land? Don’t miss out on our exclusive Christmas Eve tour!