Ahead of Christmas celebrations next week, the Israeli Tourism Ministry has arranged for free shuttles between Jerusalem and Bethlehem for pilgrims wanting to attend mass celebrations.

Bethlehem prepares for Christmas celebrations

Bethlehem prepares for Christmas celebrations Photo Credit: RTR/Channel 2 News

The Israeli Tourism Ministry is working to welcome the hundreds of thousands of visitors expected to arrive in Israel for the Christmas period. Approximately 120,000 tourists will visit Israel in December of whom half are Christian, says Tourism Ministry.

The Tourism Ministry today hosted the traditional pre-Christmas reception for leaders of the Christian communities and churches in Israel at the Shimshon Center, Beit Shmuel in Jerusalem. The minister Yariv Levin sent season’s greetings for Christmas to the Christian communities and invited the faithful around the world to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Schedule for Christmas Eve:

From 15:00 on Christmas Eve (December 24) through to 03:00 on Christmas Day, the Ministry of Tourism will offer free shuttle transportation, helping pilgrims travelling between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Buses will leave every 30 minutes on the hour and half hour from the bus stop near the Carta Parking lot (opposite Jaffa Gate and near to the Mamilla Boulevard). The bus will also stop near the entrance to the Mar Elias Monastery, and at the Rosmarin junction, before continuing via Rachel’s Crossing to Bethlehem – and then back again.There may be changes to the schedule due to demand.

Representatives from the Ministry of Tourism will welcome tourists and pilgrims at Rachel’s Crossing with a small gift in the spirit of the holiday. The ministry will also provide a firework display during the traditional Christmas parade in Nazareth.