Easter in Jerusalem 2018

Jerusalem begins to fill up with Christian tourists as Easter approaches. Easter Sunday in 2018 falls on April 1, but special services will take place the whole week before starting on Palm Sunday, March 25 and continue until Easter Monday on April 2. Be prepared for crowds and a wonderful, meaningful experience in the city where you’ll be walking in Jesus’ final footsteps surrounded by fellow believers.

2018 Easter events will be updated as they become available

Here is a rundown of the annual religious events in the Old City:

Ceremonies and events

Easter in Jerusalem features an entire week of services, ceremonies and other events.

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday procession on the Mount of Olives

Join the popular reenactment of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. Participants gather at the Church of Bethpage and begin at 2:30 pm to descend the Mount of Olives, singing hymns and bearing palm fronds.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The Armenians, Copts and Syrians make three rounds around the rotunda in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Palm Procession starts at 7:00 am, and the daily procession begins at 5:00 pm.

Holy Thursday

The washing of the feet is a tradition in imitation of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

8:00 am — Pontifical Mass (Supper of the Lord & Mass of the Chrism), Procession of the Blessed Sacrament

In and around the Old City

3:10 pm — Pilgrimage from St. Savior’s Church (from the entrance from St. Francis Street) to the Cenacle, St. James and St. Mark followed by service with the Washing of the Feet

9:00 pm — Holy Hour in different languages at the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives followed by private prayer in silence

Good Friday

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre


7:15 am — Celebration of the Passion of Christ on Calvary in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre

12:15 pm — Procession of the Way of the Cross at the Via Dolorosa with the Franciscan Fathers

8:10 pm — “Funeral Procession” in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre

The Garden Tomb

For Protestants, there is a Good Friday meditative service (English) at the Garden Tomb.

Holy Saturday

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher

6:30 am — Easter Vigil

3:30 pm: Entry and solemn procession

6:00 pm — Solemn Vespers the Holy Tomb

12:30 am (Sunday) — Pontifical celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours at the Altar of Mary Magdalene, presided by the Custos of the Holy Land

Late Saturday night is the Holy Fire ceremony. Thousands await the miraculous lighting of the Patriarch’s candle from within the tomb. Caution is advised since the crowds tend to be tight and there has been violence in recent years.

The Garden Tomb

Resurrection Service (Arabic with simultaneous translation to English)

In and around the Old City

A parade of Armenian marching bands including bagpipes and drums proceed with the Patriarch and priests to the Holy Sepulchre.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land typically holds an Easter sunrise service in English at 5:30 am in the outdoor chapel at the Augusta Victorial Hospital on the Lutheran World Federation Mount of Olives campus.  The service will be followed by breakfast, and a 15 NIS donation is suggested.

Easter Sunday

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

10:00 am — Entry of the Latin Patriarch, H.B. Fuad Twal

10:30 am — Pontifical mass and procession

5:00 pm — Daily Procession

The Garden Tomb

Sunrise services in English
Resurrection service in English

Easter Monday

8:00 am — Jerusalem Holy Sepulcher: Daily Solemn Mass

10:00 am — Emmaus Qubeibeh: Pontifical Mass & Blessing of bread presided by the Custos

2:30 pm — Emmaus Qubeibeh: Vespers & Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament

5:00 — Jerusalem Holy Sepulcher: Daily Procession

More services and events

Get the complete schedule for Easter services at both Catholic and Protestant institutions throughout the city by visiting the Christian Information Centre website.

More to do in Jerusalem and Israel

When you visit Israel for Easter, you are sure to want to get an in-depth understanding of Jerusalem and to visit other holy and interesting sites around Israel. Here are some highly recommended tours in Jerusalem and Israel:

Nazareth, Tiberias & Sea of Galilee – One Day Tour >>
Bethlehem Highlights – Half Day Tour >>
Jericho & Bethlehem – 1 Day Tour >>
Jerusalem, Masada, Dead Sea Highlights – Two Day Tour >>
In the Footsteps of Jesus – 1 Day Walking Tour >>

Also see an overview of the major places of worship in Jerusalem and details on how to get to Bethlehem.