Christmas in Jerusalem, 2021 (photos, videos)

With reduced pilgrim foot-traffic, Jerusalem was awash with locals partaking in the festive spirit

The holiday season here in Jerusalem was once again a subdued one, with Israel’s aggressive travel restrictions intended to mitigate the spread of the Omicron variant preventing the usual influx of pilgrims visiting the Holy Land around Christmas.

The restrictions had an unexpected effect: traditional Christmas venues like Nazareth — the Biblical town that is also known as the ‘Arab capital of Israel’ — were swarmed instead by Jewish Israelis, many of whom remarked positively on the experience.

In Jerusalem, the Municipality put on an open-air Christmas Market just inside the New Gate.

The New Gate Christmas Market. Photo: author.

The streets were adorned with festive decorations and the area has recently been somewhat revitalized by the addition of several new nightlife venues.

Taboon and Wine is one of the new nightlife venues that has opened inside the New Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City. They serve both wine and beer. I bought a half lifter of Taybeh Gold for 30 NIS. Photo: author.
The New Gate provides access to the Christian Quarter.

For those looking for Christmas trees, some stellar examples could be found at the YMCA, the Notre Dame Pontifical Institute, and the Feel Beith coexistence center in Abu Tor (this is by no means an exhaustive list!).

The Notre Dame — a popular pilgrim hotel that has been under Vatican ownership since the 1970s — recently upgraded the menu at its Wine and Cheese Restaurant and has also opened access to its rooftop.

For 10 NIS patrons can experience a majestic view over the Old City of Jerusalem stretching eastwards towards Damascus Gate and the east of the city.

The Christmas Market inside New Gate as seen from the Notre Dame’s rooftop. Photo: author.
This year’s Christmas tree at the Notre Dame in Jerusalem. Photo: author.
A longtime favorite of pilgrims visiting the Holy Land, the Notre Dame has been managed by the Vatican since the 1970s and includes a wine and cheese restaurant and rooftop viewing position on premises. Photo: author.
The Cheese and Wine Restaurant at the Notre Dame was decorated fro Christmas. Photo: author.

YMCA Christmas Decorations 2021

The Jerusalem YMCA was also well-decorated and busy as usual with a Christmas market and other activities.

The YMCA in Jerusalem. Photo: author.
A sign advertising the YMCA’s Christmas Market. Photo: author.

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Daniel Rosehill

Daytime: writing for other people. Nighttime: writing for me. Or the other way round. Enjoys: Linux, tech, beer, random things. https://www.danielrosehill.com