Christmas in the Christmas City

Christmas in the Christmas City

There is perhaps no better place to enjoy the holidays than the Lehigh Valley’s own “Christmas City”. A simple stroll downtown reveals a winter wonderland of elegant Christmas displays and beautiful holiday decorations, while the rhythmic sound of horse-drawn carriages and the quaint sight of the Christmas City Village create an enchanting atmosphere. Crossing the bridge over to Southside, where the brightly colored lights exude a cheerful Christmas glow, the hustle-and-bustle of Christkindlmarkt generates a joyful feeling of holiday excitement.

Indeed, all of Bethlehem truly comes to life during the Christmas season.

So if you’re looking for a way to make the holidays special, here is a short list of some of the many wonderful activities the city has to offer. Take an evening and enjoy a gourmet dinner or cocktails at one of the many upscale restaurants, including Corked Wine Bar and Steakhouse, where you’ll find a fresh menu of certified prime Black Angus steaks, chops, duck and seafood. You can also shop for handcrafted gifts in the boutique stores and one-of-a-kind Christmas markets; catch a live show at Southside’s critically acclaimed Touchstone Theatre; or sit back and watch one of the “Christmas Classic Matinee” films at SteelStack’s Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas.

But most of all, just spend some time delighting in the sights, sounds and atmosphere of a truly wonderful, and truly unique, Christmas City.

Christmas City Follies

The Touchstone Theatre’s annual holiday variety show, the Christmas City Follies weaves together wonderfully entertaining characters in high-spirited sketch performances. Now in its 16th year, it has become a holiday tradition of “merry music, holiday hilarity, and seasonal sweetness”. Performances take place Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through December 20. Tickets cost $25 for adults and $15 for students and seniors. For more information, call 610.867.1689 or visit

Bethlehem By Night Bus Tour

A beautiful way to explore the history and traditions of Bethlehem, the bus tour leaves from Main Street and takes passengers on a picturesque journey through both the North and South sides, including a stop at the famous Star of Bethlehem atop South Mountain. Tours depart Thursdays through Sundays at 5pm and run through December 27. For more information, call 1.800.360.TOUR.


Presented by ArtsQuest, this year marks the festival’s 22nd year of operation and features more than 125 different vendors. Shop for beautiful, handcrafted gifts while enjoying delicious holiday treats and entertainment. Daily admission fees are $9 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12 and free for children 5 years old and under. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays and Sundays, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays through
December 20th.

Christmas City Village

An authentic German “Weihnachtsmarkt”, the Christmas City Village is nestled in the heart of Historic Downtown Bethlehem near the Central Moravian Church, Sun Inn Courtyard and Sun Inn Patio. Enjoy a delightful stroll through the thirty-five wooden huts while browsing the unique selection of handmade holiday gifts. The village is open Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. through
December 20th.

Hotel Bethlehem

A popular tourist destination, visitors are welcome to walk through the hotel and take a self-guided tour of its stunningly elaborate Christmas displays. Enter through the main lobby and delight at the sight of a handcrafted gingerbread replica of the hotel, twenty-six fully decorated Christmas trees, thirty-six holiday wreaths, six 7-foot-tall toy soldiers, two 6-foot-tall nutcrackers, a nativity scene and more than 35,000 Christmas lights. Each Sunday in December leading up to Christmas also features a visit by Santa Claus during the Musical Sunday Brunches, which are held between 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Live Bethlehem Christmas Pageant

Performed in the Rose Garden in West Bethlehem, the pageant is an emotional re-enactment of the events surrounding the birth of Christ. As fully costumed actors and live animals portray the action, a narrator and chorus of singers recount the story. The pageant is performed Saturday, December 12 and Sunday, December 13 at 1:45 p.m.

Carriage Rides on Main Street

Feel as if you’re taking a ride back in time as you enjoy the sights and sounds of the historic downtown. Each carriage seats up to four people and departs from Main Street. Rides last approximately 20 minutes and cost $55.00. Carriage rides end January 10. For more information, contact the Visitor Center by calling

Christmas Putz and Star & Candle Shoppe at Central Moravian Church

A holiday tradition since 1937, the Christmas Putz at Central Moravian Church features antique German figurines displayed amidst driftwood and live moss. Illuminated by tiny white lights, these beautiful miniature scenes illustrate the story of Christ’s birth, which is told through narration and music. The Putz is shown every half-hour on Thursdays and Fridays from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from
1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Putz is closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and then reopens daily from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. through December 31. Entrance is free, but donations are gratefully accepted. On the same level, and operating on the same hours, is the Star & Candle Shoppe, where you can purchase handcrafted Moravian items such as German stars, Christmas ornaments, jewelry, unique greeting cards, baked goods and more.

Live Advent Calendar

A truly unique Bethlehem event, the 10th annual Live Advent Calendar takes place daily at the historic 1810 Goundie House. Crowds gather at 5:15 p.m., and at 5:30 p.m. one lucky visitor is chosen to open the door and reveal a special guest and Christmas treat.

Doors and Windows of Bethlehem

A wonderful way to view the downtown’s elegant holiday decorations, you can stop by the Visitor Center at 505 Main Street and pick up a map for a self-guided tour. This year’s theme is Victorian Christmas, so be sure to vote for your favorite.

Bethlehem House Gallery Holiday Show

Located at 459 Main Street, the Bethlehem House Gallery showcases original art in a variety of contemporary styles. The Holiday Show features the work of Karel Mikolas, a renowned artist whose stone, steel, wood and glass works have been exhibited throughout the United States. Larger pieces, as well as smaller items that are ideal for holiday gifts, will be on display through January 9. The gallery is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Items can be purchased in store or online at

Photos Provided by Touchstone Theatre

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