It’s that time of year again, when the house fills with sweet smells, holiday music can be heard in every corner, and the month-long shopping spree begins. There are wealth of ways to do this during the holidays, but a particular favorite is joining holiday activities sponsored by local historic sites. From basking in the Bethlehem’s near universal embrace of the season of to reflecting simpler times during quaint holiday performances or re-creations, here are a few favorites.
Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites
They don’t call it Christmas City for nothing! A winter wonderland awaits travelers to Bethlehem – be sure to add these highlights to your itinerary.
The Bethlehem by Night bus tour features glimpses of festive holiday light displays lights, historical descriptions by certified costumed guides, and visit to the famous star located atop South Mountain.
The Christmas City Stroll is a walking tour of Bethlehem’s National Historic Landmark District that leads you through nearly four centuries of the city’s history – highlighting the story of the candle in every window.
There’s no better way to marvel at Bethlehem’s Victorian and Colonial architecture than the same way many of the city’s original residents did – with a quaint horse-drawn carriage tour.
The self-guided Trees of Historic Bethlehem exhibition features four different historic sites and festive trees decorated with ornaments inspired by artwork. Each of these sites (plus three additional places not included with the “Trees” exhibition) are also part of the Holiday Putz Trail. A Christmas Putz is a longstanding Pennsylvania Dutch/Moravian tradition of displaying ornate figurines of people, animals, and buildings to create a scene from the Nativity Story.
However you decide to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem you’re sure to have a wealth of options. Dates and times vary for all activities. Visit HistoricBethlehem.org for a full schedule.
Liberty Bell Museum
The Liberty Bell was brought to Zion’s United Church of Christ in Allentown and hidden in order to keep it from being melted into cannon during the 1777 British occupation of Philadelphia.
Since 2004, the church has also housed another famous and beloved resident – a puppet show titled The Mouse Before Christmas starring Pip the Mouse. This performance has a long history in Lehigh Valley stemming from its 30+ years (1962-1995) at the now defunct Hess’s department store at Ninth & Hamilton Streets, to the Allentown Public Library, and now at its home at the Liberty Bell Museum. The tradition of the original stage, props, and soundtrack (which has been restored and digitized) are kept alive for generations to come.
Shows run Monday through Saturday from November 23 - December 31 and Sunday December 9 at 12:30, 1:30, and 2:30 p.m. Check LibertyBellMuseum.org for more show times. The cost of the show is included with museum admission: children under 5 are free, children age 5-17 are $1, adults are $2.
Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm
Let the softly glowing lantern light transport you to Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm, a 114-acre, 19th-century farmstead listed on the National register of Historic Places and located near Stroudsburg.
Interact with costumed interpreters, portraying the descendants of the Johann Depper family, as they prepare for their 1890s holiday. A live nativity scene awaits visitors in the barn. Schoolhouse carolers stir the air with the melodies of the season, and the arrival of the the dubious Belsnickel, a PA Dutch folk character, is anxiously awaited by children of all ages.
Holiday hours are weekends, December 1 - 2 and 8 - 9, from 3 - 7 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 3-12.
For more holiday fun in Lehigh Valley, click here.