I am lucky enough to live in a town that celebrates the holidays shows off their decorations with pride. Chriskindlemarkt in Bethlehem, Pennslyvania is one of my favorite places to go this time of year because of how festive it is. The name is from a German tradition during the Christmas season where towns, villages, and cities host festive outdoor markets known as Christkindlmarkts, uniting the community in a celebration of the holiday season. While each Christkindlmarkt is unique, they all feature food and drink, holiday ornaments and plenty of handcrafted gifts.
It’s in this age-old tradition that Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem was established in downtown Bethlehem in 1993. Started to complement the Christmas City’s existing celebration, the event has grown steadily and is now considered one of the premier holiday attractions in the Northeastern United States. Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem showcases aisles of exquisite handmade works by the nation’s finest artisans, the heart-warming sounds of live Christmas music, delicious food and more.
This is an indoor and outdoor festival that features over 200 vendors. My mom and I go every year to eat, shop and celebrate the holiday season. I am part German so it’s fun to celebrate my ancestry by eating Pennsylvania dutch foods like perogies, potato pancakes, and ice cream Belgium waffles. Also, the handcrafted ornaments, nesting dolls, jewelry, and other items are amazing to look about because of how much detail goes into them. I bought a cute black cat ornament that is on my tree right now.
Another fun thing I like doing here is going around to all the food vendors and trying their product. My favorite is always the salsa station that offers mild mango salsa. I could eat a whole jar of that alone. Going to this event every year is such a joy of mine because they have live music and I get most of my Christmas shopping done! I like to support small businesses and families by buying locally handmade gifts that you can’t get from Amazon or Target.
Outside the artisan tents, you’ll find fire pits to sit around, ice carvers, glass blowers, igloos to hid from the cold in, hot cocoa and coffee stands, a gigantic Christmas tree and other art vendors. Pets are allowed so their’ also a bunch of cute dogs running around and getting their picture with Santa. This event is sponsored by companies around the Lehigh Valley and I feel such a sense of community when I come to this winter event as well as their summer music festival called Musikfest.
At night, the town of Bethlehem turns into a magical winter wonderland with lights glowing and Christmas music playing. The trees that line the main street are wrapped in lights and horse-drawn buggies are trotting down the road. There are a lot of small shops all along the main street that I love going into. One of them is a small consignment store that I go to often and donate my clothing to every season.
Around the corner of the main street, there is a hidden park where there are MORE artisans and vendors selling items out of small wooden sheds. Not many people know about this little area so it feels special visiting it every year.
The town of Bethlehem is symbolized by the Moravian star and this year I really wanted to purchase a light-up one to hang on my porch. My parents have one and I wanted to hang one up as well. It’s a 25 point star that is a German symbol of Christmas.
I enjoy going to Chriskindlemarkt every year and I highly recommend visiting it if you are anywhere near eastern Pennsylvania. The event usually runs from Thanksgiving through Christmas Day.