Jan 31st, 2013Press Release from ArtsQuest, Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce


BETHLEHEM, PA—Bethlehem’s 75th year as “Christmas City USA” turned out to be a memorable one as tens of thousands of people visited the city for its annual holiday celebration.

At Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem, which celebrated its 20th year, 61,552 people attended the event to enjoy the live holiday music, glassblowing demonstrations and 125 vendors offering hand-made gifts, holiday ornaments and Christmas collectibles. The 2012 attendance was the third-highest in the event’s history, topped only by the 63,436 who attended in 2011 and the 65,000 who visited in 2007.

Christkindlmarkt, located at PNC Plaza at SteelStacks, also reached a major milestone in 2012 as it welcomed its one-millionth guest, Autumn Gilbert, on Dec. 14. Gilbert, a resident of Weatherly, Pa., was the 151st person through the doors that day and was attending the event for the very first time.

“The holiday season is one of the biggest and busiest times of the year for Bethlehem,” said ArtsQuest President Jeff Parks. “The city’s rich history, charm, unique shopping experiences and wide variety of holiday attractions make it one of the premier destinations in the region for enjoying the holidays.  We saw that again at Christkindlmarkt this year, with guests coming from as far away as Massachusetts, Virginia and even the state of Washington.”

The Christmas City Village, located in the city’s Historic Main Street district, also had a successful run in 2012. The open-air market, presented by the Downtown Bethlehem Association, featured 30 outdoor vendors offering holiday crafts, gifts and food. In its second year, the Village added 10 new vendor huts – with a waiting list for even more interested vendors – resulting in an expanded market at three separate locations on Main Street.

Other highlights of Bethlehem’s holiday celebration included the 34th Annual Live Bethlehem Christmas Pageant Dec. 8-9, the Bethlehem Historic District Association’s Holiday House Tour Dec. 8, and Historic Bethlehem Partnership’s popular holiday walking tours and Bethlehem by Night Bus Tours, as well as holiday-themed theatrical presentations such as Pennsylvania Youth Theatre’s The Happy Elf, Touchstone Theater’s Christmas City Follies XIII and Pennsylvania Youth Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker. Enhancing the holiday experience for guests was the return of the free Christmas City Trolley, made possible through the support of the Bethlehem Parking Authority and the Outlets at Sands Bethlehem.On the weekends from Nov. 23 to Dec. 23, more than 2,000 people rode the trolley to visit the city’s two shopping districts, museums and other locations throughout Bethlehem.

“The downtown streets were packed with people shopping, eating and just taking in the ambience of Christmas in Bethlehem. The holiday season is something we start planning for almost a year in advance. We are gratified that our work paid off for not only the merchants, restaurateurs and vendors but the tourists and shoppers, too.” said Lynn Collins Cunningham of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce.

This year’s Christmas City celebration featured more than 60 different events and attractions throughout Bethlehem. The celebration continued right through the New Year, with 5,000 people visiting PEEPSFEST™, the family festival presented by Just Born and ArtsQuest Dec. 30-31, and 700-plus guests attending the city’s new New Year’s Eve block party on the 31st. In addition, more than 800 children and adults came out for the new Three Kings Celebration at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks Jan. 6, bringing a spirited close to the holiday season.

“Bethlehem’s annual Christmas celebration has a positive impact that goes well beyond the holiday season,” said Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan. “Each year, countless visitors discover the many wonderful restaurants, museums and merchants that call the city home, then come back throughout the year to shop, dine and patronize many of the downtown businesses.  There’s a lot of work and planning that goes into preparing for the holidays in the Christmas City, but it pays huge dividends throughout the year for the city and the entire region.”


Lynn Logue, Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Bethlehem

610-739-1510 or gro.rebmahcyellavhgihelnull@cnnyl


Mark Demko, ArtsQuest

610-332-1342 or gro.tseuqstranull@okmedm




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