While some of you may hear the name Bethlehem and picture mangers and farm animals, the revitalized former Steel Capital in eastern Pennsylvania has their own take on the Christmas season. Bethlehem, PA Christmas is a sight to behold and taken on with enormous civic pride, since 1937.
Picture a Blast Furnace Light Show and expanded holiday programming running concurrently with the annual Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem holiday festival. All the high tech revelry takes place at the new SteelStacks arts and cultural campus in Bethlehem, now a booming city of over 75,000 residents.
Beginning in mid-November each year, the annual Christmas Market, Christkindlmarkt, is a treat for travelers that takes place on weekends through December (closed Thanksgiving Day). You can check the Bethlehem Association website for current dates and times to celebrate your own Bethlehem, PA Christmas.
Bethlehem, PA Christmas Goes All Out for Christkindlmarkt
A Bethlehem, PA Christmas wouldn’t be complete without the Christkindlmarkt. This market features aisles of exquisite, handmade works by more than 100 artisans from more than 15 states; live Christmas music performed by acoustic acts and choirs; and delicious German and Austrian favorites such as bratwurst, German roasted almonds, and strudel.
From beautiful, handcrafted jewelry, fine art photography and cinnamon scented beeswax ornaments, to edible birdhouses, handmade wooden drums and hand-carved wooden Santas, Christkindlmarkt offers thousands of holiday decorations and gift ideas perfect for every taste and budget.
SteelStacks Cultural Center Brings the Arts to Bethlehem
The SteelStacks campus is open nightly so guests can tour the holiday lights and 1930s-era decorations reminiscent of the days when Bethlehem first became known as The Christmas City. There’s even holiday-themed music and light show on the blast furnaces several times each evening.
Pause to watch the “Bethlehem, The Christmas City” film; shop for unique presents at the Stacks Shop; or enjoy the special holiday menus. If you haven’t captured the holiday spirit already on your Bethlehem, PA Christmas adventure, you’ll find it after watching this flick.
If you’re drawn by the more cultural activities, ArtsQuest has more going on at the SteelStacks too. “Peas & Qs” is their Saturday morning series, designed just for families and kids. Performances at 11:30am are always free, and feature musicians, magicians and clowns mixed in with arts, crafts, films, storytelling and more. Afternoons, there are often Disco Parties where all ages dance together.
Explore the Entire City of Bethlehem
The Historic Bethlehem Partnership has Christmas-themed walking tours, bus tours and carriage rides throughout the historic downtown district that older children would enjoy. Costumed guides lead families into museums decorated as they would have been when the Moravians first walked through these streets in the 1700’s and 1800’s.
If you tire of the Christkindlmarkt, local shopping options for pre- and post-holiday sales include the Lehigh Valley Mall and the Promenade Shops.
Other local events include Bethlehem’s famous annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, occurring all day during the Thanksgiving week. They don’t call it Christmas City for nothing.
Planning Tips for a Bethlehem, PA Christmas Weekend
History buffs will love a stay at the historic Hotel Bethlehem, the town’s grande dame. She’s located less than 2 miles from Christkindlmarkt, and within walking distance of shops and attractions. Families will find special weekend holiday rates for under $300 for a double occupancy that include breakfast for two.
At the contemporary and very comfortable Hyatt Place Bethlehem, families will find a spacious room with free continental breakfast, free WiFi and a heated indoor pool. You can also find discount hotels in Bethlehem, PA right here.
For information on other hotel packages during the holidays, as well as a complete list of holiday events and attractions, see the Bethlehem PA Tourism office site.
Want to see even more holiday light displays and Christmas fun? Get our round-up of Top Holiday Lights Celebrations Across America.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.