Winter frequently sees much of northern Europe, the U.S. and Canada switch for the central heating, slippers and brace themselves for a wild winter, while the moderate and cooler temperatures in Israel make it an ideal destination for a end-of-year escape.

\Locals have indeed replaced the shorts, vests and flip flops with light jackets and long sleeves between December and February, but even recently in November, the mercury hits unusual seasonal highs. Here are five great reasons to visit Israel during the winter.

The joy when festivals overlap in the Holy Land

This year, the three festivals of Chanukkah, Christmas and the Holiday of Holidays, (Chag HaChagim), overlap.

Lasting between 18-26th December, Chanukkah is a joyful Jewish festival, dating back to XXX times, and traditionally celebrated by lighting the candelabrum (menorah or hanukkiyot) on each of the festival’s eight nights, eating foods such as sufganiyot (deep-fried donuts) and potato latkes, playing with spinning tops called dreidels, a kind of biblical fidget spinner. Christmas in Jerusalem and Nazareth is like nowhere else on the planet.

While Jesus’ birthplace in Bethlehem remains popular, his boyhood home in Nazareth – where Mary learned of her pregnancy on the site of Church of the Annunciation – is a holy pilgrimage destination for Christians over the Christmas period, with an array of interesting monuments, religious places and mesmerizing architecture.

In Jerusalem, you can be part of Christmas prayer and carol services and Midnight Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site of Jesus’s tomb.

The seasonal atmosphere in December is also emphasized in the mixed city of Haifa, Israel’s third largest city, where each year the Holiday of Holidays celebrates Chanukkah, Christmas and Ramadan with a range of colorful events in the German Colony and Wadi Nisnas areas, marking the diversity of the city’s population.

A great chance to explore the natural environment

With cooler weather give visitors a much-needed reprieve: you don’t have the normally baking temperatures at the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth, which makes the floating experience infinitely more pleasurable. Winter in Israel also provides the opportunity for skiing on Mount Hermon in the north, while Jerusalem itself has become accustomed to snowfall in January and February, with Israelis who rarely see snow often travelling to the city with their children for throwing snowballs and building snowmen. The comfortable temperatures of Eilat and the surrounding desert means you can really appreciate hiking, exploring, and diving with dolphins, the perfect way to end the year.

Fewer tourists mean special deals at Israel hotels

If you want to really get to know the country, fewer tourists mean a more authentic experience. Winter is the best time to do so. The perks of off-season visit to Israel in the winter means there is less traffic, less waiting at the many tourist attractions, and it is easier to get cheaper deals at some Israel hotels , with a range of special offers and discounts, to complement the better flight deals also valuable.

Fewer crowds also ensure Israel becomes a photographer’s dream, as you can be truly absorbed by this fascinating, tiny country, capturing photos of the enchanting and incomparable Jerusalem, the effervescent, bubbly Tel Aviv, and the stark yet stunning Negev.

Spend New Year’s Eve in the Holy Land

New Year’s Eve, or known locally as "Sylvester," has become more popular in Israel in recent years and is the perfect excuse to celebrate life. If you are in Israel this winter, take out your dancing shoes and enjoy the nightclubs at Tel Aviv. They are open from dusk till dawn, offering great food and fascinating cocktail mixes and for the many New Year’s Eve parties, check out local listings for the many, dance floors and gigs across Israel that will sure get rid of any winter chills.

Time to Learn and Recharge

With more museums and cultural institutions per capita than anywhere else, winter is the ideal time to challenge yourself, learn and relax indoors too. Israel is home to many museums bursting with history, culture, nature and innovation. Jerusalem' Israel Museum, Israel’s largest and most magnificent cultural asset, is consistently ranked among the world’s leading art and archaeology museums.

Founded in 1932, one of the oldest museums in Israel, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, also one of the country’s most diverse, is an ideal way to spend an afternoon, while creativity and innovation have brought Haifa’s Madatech- Israel National Museum of Science, Technology and Space to life, inspiring visitors with a raft of scientific and technological secrets and discoveries.

Winter months in Israel do not mean hibernating in front of the heaters, and while the sunshine may dim, the lights keep on burning, long into the winter.