You’d expect the birthplace of Jesus himself to be full of Christmas cheer, and you won’t be disappointed. Bethlehem begins gearing up for Christmas with the lighting of the Christmas tree in Manger Square on December 1st, and the Christmas atmosphere doesn’t end until well after Epiphany. Orthodox Christmas is marked with liturgy and vespers on January 6th and Armenian Christmas on January 18th, with midnight Mass.
Manger Square is the focal point of Bethlehem’s Christmas events, with processions passing through the square most days of the month. By far the most important Christmas event in Bethlehem is Midnight Mass at St. Catherine’s Church on Christmas Eve. You can only get into the church if you have an invitation, but the service is screened live in Manger Square. Don’t miss the Grotto of the Nativity, believed by most Christians to be the precise birthplace of Jesus, and the Well of the Magi, both located in the atmospheric Basilica of the Nativity.