First Friday: Celebrating Local Arts & Culture

On the first Friday of the month, Downtown Bethlehem opens the doors to their local stores and venues to celebrate the community’s involvement in the arts and culture. The Downtown Bethlehem Association has continually been able to showcase the thriving local atmosphere. The event, known as First Friday, has been a successful venture for several years. Every month brings something new, whether event goers are interested in spending time divulging in wine and food of quaint places they “just never had the chance to try,” listening to live local music, or discovering a new love of art at the several local galleries. The Downtown Bethlehem Association has truly captured the spirit of this great town.

Each First Friday has a theme for their participants and visitors to play into. The Downtown Bethlehem Association makes sure that there is a certain flare to the event, making it new and fresh each month. Whether merchants are celebrating a “Tropical” First Friday or a “Totally 80s” event, it is sure to be something that even the most consistent visitors enjoy month after month. First Friday is usually open from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on the celebratory Friday night each month. This gives patrons plenty of time to view all there is to offer.  After all, this is not only a great way to educate the locals of the arts and the culture surrounding it, but also a way for businesses to promote their product and get to know their clientele.

“It is nice to have everybody mingle,” Alicia Leayman, a hairstylist at Apotheca Salon, says. “Many places offer discounts during First Friday hours as part of their participation.” Apotheca Salon has been a staple in First Friday. They have participated every month since June 2010. As a result, current and potential clients get to interact with the salon’s stylists, which helps build their monthly clientele. It is what every merchant and venue hopes to see as a result of their participation. Many retailers show their gratitude for such an event through the offers they make each First Friday in hopes that wandering locals may take a second look at their facility.

However, if one is truly looking to explore and learn about the arts, there is plenty to choose from. Monsoon Gallery, located on Third Street in South Bethlehem, showcases unique artistry and entertains their guests by providing information on the artist and their work. One could also visit the Banana Factory to view artwork from a fellow Lehigh Valley resident, see a glassblowing demonstration or find a class. Or, a patron could visit Cleo’s Silversmith Studio and Gallery, which is also located on Third Street. Cleo’s jewelry gallery is not only fashionable, but also hand-worked artistry at its finest.

Art “in-motion” may be more of the speed of many South Bethlehem and Allentown residents that take part in First Friday. South Bethlehem has always been known for their live music. Local bands and large acts alike have flocked to the area to perform and share their craft with the area year after year.

Unique places like Godfrey Daniel’s, located on Fourth Street in South Bethlehem, are great for locals looking for a place to listen to great live music, whether it is Open Mic night or a scheduled artist.

Music fills the streets as local residents enjoy food, beverages, shopping and culture. While participating in this monthly event, music venues not only provide free entertainment, but also an inside look to discovering raw talent in our very own city. Wrap’d Tight, a sandwich wrap and salad shop on South New Street, even features their own live music stage and Open Mic for their customers to enjoy. There is also no lack of availability of food and drinks for patrons, either. Many restaurants and vendors offer  “First Friday happy hour” food and drink specials. Make sure to leave room for dessert, too, though, as Tallarico’s Chocolates is one of many participants!

Each month, over 35 merchants, vendors and venues participate in South Bethlehem’s First Friday. All hoping that their craft and artistry will be noticed and appreciated. First Friday reminds our community of all the unique, talented, culturally-influenced and creative people and places that make the Lehigh Valley great. This event is an easy way to discover that “new lunch spot” or “favorite local music joint” in which for we in the community often search.

To find out more information about the Downtown Bethlehem Association and upcoming First Friday events, please visit:

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