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BETHLEHEM, PA—Historic Bethlehem’s celebration of the Christmas season gets underway Friday, Nov. 23, with the opening of the newly-expanded Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem , the city’s official tree lighting ceremony, a new Grand Holiday Illumination in the historic district and more. The events are part of the inaugural “ Christmas City ,” a 39-day celebration of the holidays being presented by ArtsQuest , in conjunction with Historic Bethlehem Partnership and Central Moravian Church.

“Bethlehem has long been known as the Christmas City,” said Jeff Parks, president of ArtsQuest, which presents Christkindlmarkt and was instrumental in developing the Christmas City concept. “This celebration is an opportunity to showcase the city as one of the premier destinations in the country to visit during the holiday season.”

For 2007, Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem – named one of the top holiday markets in the world by Travel and Leisure – is open daily from Nov. 23-Dec. 31 and includes several new attractions. One of the new highlights is a liquid fireworks show featuring gorgeous fountains and a dazzling light display set to holiday music. The liquid fireworks, which appeared at the 2007 Super Bowl festivities, will run every half-hour. 

Other additions include a fifth arts and crafts weekend Dec. 20-23; new children’s rides; self-guided walking tours through the city’s historic Colonial Industrial Quarter, which has been transformed into a winter wonderland featuring beautiful decorations and thousands of twinkling holiday lights; and tours of the historic district’s 1761 Tannery and the 1762 Waterworks - the first municipal water works in the United States - led by guides dressed in Colonial era clothing.

Thursdays through Sundays from Nov. 23-Dec. 23 Christkindlmarkt features more than 75 artisans showcasing handcrafted items and Christmas gifts; live holiday music; jolly, old St. Nicholas; an assortment of holiday retailers; 10 different food vendors; the liquid fireworks display; children’s rides and the walking tours of the Colonial Industrial Quarter. Mondays through Wednesdays from Nov. 26-Dec. 19, as well as Dec. 26-31, Christkindlmarkt is open for visitors to shop at its holiday retailers, grab a bite to eat, experience the liquid fireworks show, enjoy the rides and embark on the Colonial Industrial Quarter walking tours.

Historic Bethlehem Partnership, which is partnering with ArtsQuest to include the Colonial Industrial Quarter visits with admission to Christkindlmarkt, is presenting a Christmas vignette and historic interpreters as part of the new Colonial Industrial Quarter features.

“We’re very excited to be working with ArtsQuest and to have the opportunity to highlight the Colonial Industrial Quarter as part of our Christmas offerings,” said Charlene Donchez Mowers, executive director of Historic Bethlehem Partnership.

Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem is located at Spring and Main streets. Information on hours, attractions and admission prices are available at or by calling 610-332-1300.

At 4:30 p.m., Nov. 23, Bethlehem hosts its annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Payrow Plaza on Church Street. The ceremony includes the lighting of the city’s tree and Bethlehem’s holiday lights, as well as the arrival of Santa Claus. Following the ceremony, there is a holiday procession to Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem for the Grand Holiday Illumination at 5:45 p.m., during which the trees and buildings in the Colonial Industrial Quarter will be lit for the Christmas season.

The opening of Christkindlmarkt, the tree lighting ceremony and the Grand Holiday Illumination are just the start of the numerous events and activities taking place throughout Bethlehem during the holiday season. Another major, new attraction is the “Moravian Music Christmas Concerts,” which take place 2 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays, Nov. 29-Dec. 16, at Central Moravian Church, Main and Church streets. The concerts, which highlight the charm and history of an old-fashioned Moravian Christmas, feature carols and traditional Moravian Christmas hymns sung by soloists and ensembles, as well as a historical interpretation of the founding of Bethlehem, which was christened by the Moravians on Christmas Eve 1741.  Tickets are $20 and are available by visiting or calling 610-332-1300.  

Throughout the holiday season, Historic Bethlehem Partnership will host more than 35 days of Christmas programming, with options for visitors to enjoy Bethlehem by Night Bus Tours to see Bethlehem’s glistening holiday lights, old-fashioned carriage rides, sleigh rides and Old Bethlehem Historic Walking Tours led by guides dressed in 18th century Moravian attire. In addition, guests are invited to attend the 29th Annual Live Bethlehem Christmas Pageant Dec. 8-9, 2 p.m., at the Community Arts Pavilion off West Lehigh Street, or visit Central Moravian Church’s Community Putz, a nativity scene at the church’s Education Center Building, 40 W. Church St., that tells the Christmas story through music, lights and antique German figurines.

The family fun continues the week between Christmas and the New Year as ArtsQuest presents Cirque des Amis , an exciting family show featuring high-flying acrobatics, aerial ballet, trapeze, music, magic, juggling and comedy. The performances, which take place at Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem, are set for 7 p.m. Dec. 28, 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 29-30 and 7 p.m. Dec. 31. Tickets are $25-$60 and are available by visiting or calling 610-332-1300. 

For those looking for great family fun on New Year’s Eve, the Christmas City celebration goes out with a bang during First Night Bethlehem , which is being presented by ArtsQuest for the first time. The festive music and arts event showcases more than 30 musical and children’s performers at 15 different venues, as well as visual arts, family activities and two fireworks displays ringing in the New Year! First night buttons are $8 for ages 6-12 and $10 for adults if purchased before Dec. 23; $12 for ages 6-12 and $15 for adults after Dec. 24. They may be purchased by visiting or calling 610-332-1300.

The Christmas City celebration is sponsored by St. Luke’s Hospital & Health Network and 69-WFMZ-TV. For comprehensive information on all of Bethlehem’s holiday events, attractions and hours, please visit the official Christmas City website, .



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