Holiday Bucket List
Where better to spend some time this holiday season than in Christmas City and the surrounding areas? From a Christmas tree lightings to horse-drawn carriage rides and glimmering displays of lights as far as the eye can see, the Lehigh Valley doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to celebrating the holiday festivities in warmth and style. Mark your calendars now to be sure you don’t miss a single chance to mingle and make memories with your near and dear ones.
Experience a Christmas Tree Lighting
Find your local tree lighting or visit them all for a merry way to ring in the holidays this year. Here are a few special tree lighting ceremonies to add to your list.
Thursday, November 17
Lehigh Valley Mall
Tree Lighting Ceremony by WACC
Friday, November 18
Easton’s 18th Annual
Holiday Lighting Ceremony
Friday, November 25
Tree Lighting Ceremony
Saturday, November 26
Tree Lighting at The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley
Monday, November 28
‘Tis the Season – Phillipsburg
Annual Tree Lighting
Thursday, December 1
Tree Lighting Ceremony
Friday, December 2
Hanover Township’s Annual
Tree Lighting Ceremony
Enjoy Holiday Light Shows
Don’t miss your chance to see the Lehigh Valley in all its sparkling splendor. The Lehigh Valley Zoo (5150 Game Preserve Rd., Schnecksville; 610.799.4171) turns into a winter wonderland when hosting its Winter Lights Spectacular that runs Wednesday through Sunday from November 11 until January 1, 2017. Families can take photos in giant snow globes, enjoy high-tech musical light shows, toss snowballs, visit with a live reindeer, and snack on milk and cookies with Santa and a variety of other yummy treats.
Travel just outside of the Valley to enjoy the blissful beauty of Koziar’s Christmas Village (782 Christmas Village Rd., Bernville; 610.488.1110), boasting enough holiday lights to rival the Griswold family home plus photos with Santa, shopping in Santa’s Gift Shop, treats in the Country Kitchen, a large Refreshment Barn, and many trains running through tunnels and over trestles across the village. Plan your visit on the weekend from Saturday, November 5 through November 20 or any day of the week from Thanksgiving until January 1.
Another not-so distant holiday light extravaganza, Hershey Sweet Lights (100 W. Hersheypark Dr., Hershey; 717.534.3900) offers a drive-thru experience running nightly from November 11 through January 1. Brimming with twinkling lights and roughly 600 animated, illuminated displays, this holiday excursion is worth the drive. While you’re there, be sure to check out Hersheypark Christmas Candylane, where you can see Santa and nine real reindeer, ride five rollercoasters, and enjoy beautifully themed holiday décor and entertainment.
Relive Your Childhood
The holidays are the perfect time to reminisce on the happy times of your younger years and to relive those special moments with your own children or grandchildren. The popular Mouse Before Christmas Puppet Show – featuring Pip the Mouse – began at Hess’s Department Store in Allentown and continued even when the store was purchased by Bon-Ton. Today the original Pip the Mouse puppet, all his pals, the stage, and winter wonderland reside at the Liberty Bell Museum (622 W. Hamilton St., Allentown; 610.435.4232)
Trains tend to be another festive memory around the holidays, so don’t miss the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway Santa Claus Special Train, running from Black Friday through the weekend after Christmas out of Jim Thorpe. Santa visits with the children on the train, bringing each one a special treat.
Make time for your children’s (and pets’) photos with Santa by Dan’s Camera City on weekends at the Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley, just inside the Gazebo located in Town Square (near Starbucks).
Reflect on the Past and Revel in the Present
Deemed “the best way to see Bethlehem,” the Bethlehem by Night Bus Tour (Historic Bethlehem Visitor Center, 505 Main St., Bethlehem; 610.691.6055) gives you a new perspective of Christmas City curated by a guide in period attire. Take in a selection of highlights in north and south Bethlehem as well as the famous star atop South Mountain. Tours are offered Thursdays through Sundays from November 25 through December 14 and daily from December 15 through December 30.
Travel back in time to the 1800s as you experience an Old-Fashioned Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas at the Historic Troxell-Steckel Farm Museum (4229 Reliance St., Whitehall; 610.435.1074). Activities include holiday games, Christmas carols, baking, tree trimming, and stories. Children receive treats from the Belsnickel (St. Nicholas in furs).
Romance a Little Bit
There’s nothing like a Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride in Historic Downtown North Bethlehem to help you get into the holiday spirit. Two beautiful, high-stepping draft horses pull your carriage alongside Bethlehem’s holiday lights and sights. Princess character rides are also available.
What would the holidays be without a performance of the Nutcracker or another holiday show? Check out The Miracle of Christmas at Pines Dinner Theatre, The Nutcracker by Allentown Symphony Orchestra together with Repertory Dance Theatre at Miller Symphony Hall, and other local theatres and symphony halls to find a performance that’s sure to delight this time of year.
Finish up Your Holiday Shopping
Enjoy a stroll through Downtown Bethlehem for some last-minute shopping and sipping of hot beverages. As you browse the unique gifts and collectibles at the shops in Christmas City, be sure to take in the beauty that abounds and refuel your body and soul with any of the delightful culinary options along your path.
Be sure to save some time for the beloved Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem, running for five weekends starting Friday, November 18 and finishing up Sunday, December 18. This annual holiday marketplace features plenty of vendors, delicious food, music, ice sculpting demonstrations, and visits with German St. Nicholas, among other attractions. (645 E. First St., PNC Plaza, Bethlehem; 610.332.1300)
Play in the Snow
Whether you ski, snowboard, or simply decide to go sledding or have an epic snowball fight outside of your home, the wintertime is a wonderful time to be with family and friends. Break away from the daily grind and enjoy the fresh powder at Bear Creek Mountain, Blue Mountain, or another local skiing hotspot. You can also have a blast playing with your family in your own backyard. No matter what you decide, take some extra time to make fond memories with those you love, and when you’re done, wash it all down with some hot cocoa and cookies.