What's on Israel - December 2022

By Sarah Mann | Published on 11/3/2022

December might be one of Israel’s more ‘chilly’ months but it’s still a popular time to travel - whether you’re a Christian pilgrim, who wants to spend Christmas Eve in Bethlehem, looking for a city break in non-stop Tel Aviv, or craving a bit of sunshine down on the Red Sea, in Eilat.

Nativity scene on dark background

Nativity scene on dark background. Photo by Myriam Zilles on Unsplash

There are plenty of things going on all across the country in the last month of 2022, and here are a few ideas for you, if you’re travelling to Israel and looking for activities, for yourself or with your family. Even better, quite a few of them are free, so you won’t have to break the bank whilst you enjoy yourself.

Christmas Markets in Jaffa, Nazareth and Jerusalem 

No doubt, Christmas in Israel is something extraordinary. Christmas markets are a big thing in Europe, but the good news is that you don’t have to fly to Berlin, Paris or London this December to get a taste of them. Just hop on a plane to Israel and soak up some of the Christmas atmospheres here…

In Jaffa, one of Israel’s oldest and most beautiful cities, the Christmas tree (next to the Ottoman Clock Tower) will be lit up on 5th December at 17.30 and then on the weekends of 10th-11th and 17th-18th December, there will be holiday performances, artisan booths and family-friendly activities.

In Nazareth, the action takes place on 9th December, at Mary’s Well Square, a stone's throw from the Basilica of the Annunciation. After some children's activities in the afternoon, the evening will get busy with stalls selling arts and crafts as well as local produce, as well as local singers, bands and even an appearance from Santa!

Christmas tree in Bethlehem. Photo credit: © Shutterstock

                                                    Christmas tree in Bethlehem. Photo credit: © Shutterstock

In Jerusalem, head to the YMCA (opposite the famous King David Hotel) between the 6th and 8th of December which gives both locals and tourists the chance to pick up all kinds of Christmas products, including pastries, sweets, handmade crafts and spicy wine…with a huge Christmas tree to admire for good measure.

Christmas Eve in Bethlehem and Christmas Day in Jerusalem - 24th and 25th December 2022

There are always many Christian pilgrims travelling to Israel at this time of the year, to celebrate the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem (where on Christmas Eve there is a midnight mass) and services in Jerusalem the following day, at churches across the Old City, including the ancient and beloved Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Whatever your faith or belief, it is quite fascinating to attend any of these services or even just to stand on the Via Dolorosa, in Jerusalem’s Old City, and watch pilgrims walking this sacred path.  And if you just want an old-fashioned carol concert, you can head down to the YMCA, in downtown Jerusalem, and join in with all kinds of performers, to ring in this holiday.

Nativity set inspired by the Gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus

Nativity set inspired by the Gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus. Photo by Gareth Harper on Unsplash

Hanukkah celebrations across Israel - 18th to 26th December 2022

This eight-day ‘Jewish Festival of Lights is always popular in Israel and is celebrated widely by both children and adults. This year, Hanukkah falls between the 18th to 26th of December and across Israel, there will be commemorative lightings in City Squares, ‘sufganiyot’ (doughnuts) for sale in every bakery and a few parties beside!

Something else incredibly nice about being in Israel at the time of this festival is that when you’re walking in the streets, you’ll see many ‘Hannukiot’ (eight-branched candelabra) lit up in windows everywhere. This is because it’s considered to be a commandment in Jewish sacred texts to “publicise the miracle” - the miracle being that after the Jews’ victory over a tyrant, they went to the Temple to light lamps and the oil miraculously burned for eight days instead of one…

Holiday of Holidays in Haifa - 8th to 26th December 2022

This annual festival takes place every weekend in December in Haifa and this year is no exception. From the 8th to the 26th of the month, over each Thursday to Saturday, the largest city on the northern coast plays host to all kinds of events in Israel in December 2022 that are held to celebrate tolerance and unity between three major world religions - Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

There will be cultural activities, markets, performances and events both for children and adults, all designed for everyone to put aside their differences, so they can get together to enjoy themselves. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Aerial view of Haifa Bahai Gardens, Israel

Aerial view of Haifa Bahai Gardens, Israel. Photo by Shai Pal on Unsplash

International Exposure at the Suzanne Dellal Centre

The Suzanne Dellal Center, which is home to all kinds of performance art and modern dance, will be hosting its annual ‘International Exposure’ event from 30th November to 4th December 2022. Artistic directors, presenters and curators of contemporary dance and performance will be coming from across the globe to experience Israel’s dance culture first-hand. The programme, as ever, will be diverse, with large established companies rubbing shoulders with small, independent performers. 

Moreover, the Suzanne Dellal Center is located in the heart of Neve Tzedek, one of Tel Aviv’s oldest and most beautiful neighbourhoods, full of narrow streets and charming houses. So as well as enjoying a dance performance, you can grab a drink in one of the best Tel Aviv bars, explore some boutiques stores on the famous Shabazi Street or go for dinner in the neighbourhood, in of Tel Aviv’s top restaurants.

And as well as all of the above, Israel’s ‘regular’ activities - museums, art galleries, national parks, nature reserves, food markets and second-hand markets are all open, which means you’re not going to get bored or go hungry. So whether you’re looking to hike in the Negev, ski on Mount Hermon (providing snowfalls!), jetski down on the Red Sea or take a day trip to Petra from Eilat, Israel is waiting for you. If you are interested in day tours or private excursions in Israel, contact us!

The Negev Desert, Israel

The Negev Desert, Israel. Photo by Julia Gavrilenko on Unsplash