LIGHTLINE is a Christian business offering bespoke parish and diocesan tours of the Holy Land, many of which are advertised on its website for others to join. Most tours are led by Anglican or Roman Catholic clergy and include a daily Eucharist.
Typically, a Lightline pilgrimage begins with three nights by the Sea of Galilee, explores the north of the country, and then spends time in Bethlehem and Jerusalem, following the life and ministry of Jesus. Lightline can often arrange special permission for choirs to sing at certain sites. Extensions are available to add visits to Jordan (Petra; Jerash; Mount Nebo) or Sinai and St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt.
The company offers week-long Bible study retreats in Galilee (at the German Benedictine property Pilgerhaus Tabgha), or in Jerusalem (at the Gloria Hotel in the Old City). . All inclusive priced from £2000pp.
Lightline is the official pilgrimage partner of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, and works closely with Palestinian Christians. All Lightline pilgrimages include spending time with Christian communities so that groups can hear their experiences of life in the region today. The company also offers an opportunity to meet Jews and Muslims. In the past, visits included meeting peace activists, settlers, journalists, religious leaders and politicians. Lightline is one of the few operators that can arrange visits to settlements and refugee camps.
Bespoke family trips to the Holy Land are also available, starting from £1600pp per week all-inclusive for a family of six, including private minibus and driver. And, in 2024, Lightline will begin offering youth groups the opportunity to visit the Holy Land. Trips are not-for-profit, start from £500 and accommodate up to 40 young people on each trip. Participants must be 18-plus (or younger, if accompanied by an adult).
Lightline also offers group and family tours following St. Paul’s missionary journeys in Turkey, Italy, Greece and Cyprus. Egypt, Jordan, Portugal, Spain and Poland are other destinations for bespoke tours. Travel by plane is ATOL-protected.
Contact: Phone 0845 610 6447, or visit lightline.org.uk.
This year, McCabe Pilgrimages celebrates 40 years of offering bespoke pilgrimage holidays to parish and diocesan groups specializing in Holy Land and tours following the missionary journeys of St Paul.
Stock A section of the Via Dolorosa, the route Christ is said to have taken on his way to his crucifixion, with the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the background
Some parish-led tours are open to others and are advertised on the McCabe website. Currently, these include several eight-, ten-, and 12-day Holy Land pilgrimages; a five-day trip to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Galilee; an Advent Holy Land pilgrimage; and a 15-day trip to Israel, Palestine and Jordan in 2024.
To help make the trips financially viable, the company is receiving more inquiries for ecumenical trips and pilgrimages with two parishes joining together. This year, McCabe is also offering their own bespoke Holy Land trips (minimum of ten people) to family and friendship groups.
McCabe offers several core Holy Land itineraries based on church tradition and trip goals, such as engaging with Palestinian communities or built-in time for prayer and reflection. The company also offers the opportunity to worship with local Christians and suggests that all trips visit at least one Christian social-justice project supported by the McCabe Educational Trust (all holidays include a £15 donation).
For trips to Jordan, as well as a five-day Holy Land extension, McCabe offers eight- and ten-day pilgrimages. And in May 2024, a 15-day Holy Lands trip to Jordan, Israel and Palestine is available.
Last year, the company introduced a series of McCabe Travel Club tours led by McCabe Guides. New this year will be several Holy Land trips for Advent and Christmas 2023 and Easter 2024 (to be released soon). Five new destinations have been released so far, however: a 14-day tour in Egypt that includes an eight-day “Trail of the Holy Family” pilgrimage and a Nile cruise; Tuscany; Cyprus Walking Retreat; In the Footsteps of St. Thomas in South India; and Advent on a tour of Austria.
McCabe also offers itineraries to India, Malta, Nepal, Armenia, Turkey; many European destinations; and UK tours in the footsteps of Iona, Celtic Cornwall and Northern Saints. All holidays are ATOL or AITO protected.
Contact: Phone 020 8675 6828, or visit mccabe-travel.co.uk.
JC Journeys has been offering bespoke group and family Holy Land trips for the past five years, which the company suggests makes “an essential pilgrimage for anyone interested in both the life of Christ, the early church and the biblical story”.
Eight-day Holy Land trips usually include time in Jerusalem’s Old City (the Western Wall; By Dolorosa; Church of the Holy Sepulcher; Mount of Olives); around the shores of the Sea of Galilee (Capernaum, Tabgha, Mount of Beatitudes); Bethlehem (Manger Square, Church of the Nativity, Shepherd’s Fields); and in Nazareth (Church of the Annunciation, St. Mary’s Well, Mount Tabor). On the way back, a stop is made on the Mediterranean shore at Caesarea Maritima: the ancient port city of King Herod the Great, where Pontius Pilate lived.
With JC Journeys, it is possible to request to meet local Christian families and priests arranged by Friends of the Holy Land. As an integral part of the JC Journeys experience, all tours include free time, communal meals, and times of prayer and worship.
Eight-day group tours start from £1900pp, including flights, half-board accommodation, transport, tours and guides. The company offers an extension to Jordan visiting Amman (two nights), and/or Petra (one or two nights). Bespoke family trips, including private driver and guide, start from £2000pp.
JC Journeys also specializes in “Faith in Art” breaks and tours to places of religious significance in Italy, Spain, Turkey and Greece. Holidays with flights are ATOL protected.
Contact: 01886 812862; Email: [email protected]; Or visit jcjourneys.com.
SPECIAL PILGRIMAGES is a third-generation, family-owned travel company that started in Jerusalem in 1975 and still has an office there today. The organization has organized pilgrimages and tours for parishes, dioceses and other groups from the UK to the Middle East since 1983 and organizes 40 parish tours a year.
In 1997 Special Pilgrimages received an outstanding-service award from the Israeli Ministry of Tourism. Trips are bespoke, but the most common request is for an eight-day trip, priced according to accommodation rating and requested activities (cable car rides from Jericho to the Mount of Temptation, or Masada National Park, for example) can be added.
Longer tours may include Jordan on the itinerary, visiting Mount Nebo (where Moses lived in his final days) or Petra; Or to Mount Sinai and St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt. Special pilgrimages can establish contact with Christian charities supported in Bethlehem and Jerusalem or include visits to projects supported by parishes.
Stock Mount Tabor, also known as the Mount of Transfiguration
Every year, special pilgrimages organize several subsidized trips for people who struggle to visit the Holy Land. Visitors spend five nights in Bethlehem, visiting Jerusalem’s Old City, the Mount of Olives, Mount Zion and more; And two in Galilee, visited the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River, Nazareth, and Mount Tabor. The trip, departing May 28, is priced from £1125pp including flights, sightseeing, fees and half-board accommodation. The second trip is likely to come in November.
Special pilgrimages also arrange trips to other shrines and shrines. New for 2023, the company offers opera tours to Germany for parish groups. Another new destination is Santiago de Compostela (May to October), with pick-ups available for those who want to walk only part of the ten-mile daily route. Bookings with flights are ATOL-protected.
Contact: Phone 01702 394000, or visit special-pilgrimages.co.uk/home.
Richmond Holidays specializes in quality summer and ski holidays for Christians, in resorts or chalets exclusively managed by Richmond staff. This year, they are again offering a guided Holy Land tour from 29 May to 6 June.
Their last visit to the Holy Land was in 2018. This year their nine-day tour includes 4-star accommodation in three locations: Hadera (one night); Tiberias, in Galilee (three nights); and the Judean Mountains outside Jerusalem (four nights).
Visits include Mount Bental; Jordan River; Sea of Galilee; lunch and camel ride in the desert; And Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The group will also visit Masada National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, taking a cable car to visit Herod’s Palace; En Gedi (one of David’s hiding places); Qumran (site of the Dead Sea Scrolls); And bathe in the Dead Sea.
Richmond’s Holy Land trip aims to deepen scriptural understanding and encourage participants in their faith. Along with a local tour guide, the trip will be led by the Revd Neville Jones, formerly deacon at Christ Church, Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem, and his wife Anthea, who will lead weekly times of prayer, ministry and teaching.
The trip is adults only, and spaces are limited to 40. Passengers should be comfortable standing and walking for long periods of time. Priced from £2496pp based on two adults; £2576pp for people who prefer to share a room; £3362 Single Traveller. Virgin Atlantic flights, all fees and half-board 4-star accommodation. Member of Richmond Travel Trust Association. Travel by air is covered by ATOL.
Contact: Phone 020 3004 2661, or visit richmond-holidays.com.
TRAVELINK specializes in group and individual travel to the Holy Land and other biblical destinations through its Tours for Christians website. You can book a flight only, join an organized tour, opt for a fixed-trip package holiday (various Israel and Jordan itineraries are offered online) or a tailor-make trip.
Organized Bible-lands tours include trips for church groups; tours led by the ministry of Christian leaders accessible to all; and historical and archaeological tours led by licensed Holy Land guides.
In 2023, the company plans to offer cruise trips to the Holy Land. Cruise accommodation is equivalent to three- or four-star hotel standard, and all ten-day prices are the same as standard Holy Land tours, including some excursions (additional excursions and return flights).
Tours for Christians also offers trips to Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Greece and Italy. Of interest this year is the 13-day “Seven Churches of Revelation and the Footsteps of St. Paul” tour of Italy and Turkey. The tour also includes a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican; Colosseum in Rome; Istanbul; and Cappadocia. Holidays are IATA and ATOL protected.
Contact: Phone 020 8931 8811, or visit www.toursforchristians.com/tours.
Details are correct at the time of going to press.