A visit to the Christmas City: Holidays in the Lehigh Valley

In the coming weeks the only thing on our minds, besides quizzes, tests, and essays, will be the holidays. What is playing on ABC Family’s 25 days till Christmas tonight? How many more days before I am done with school and get to unwrap my presents?

Yet, before we do get to drive home belting holiday favorites, there are a few things to enjoy here in the Lehigh Valley. Our very own city next door, Bethlehem, had been christened the Christmas City in 1937 and is an extraordinary place to see during the cold, wintry days. In the days preceding Christmas, the entire city bursts with lights and decorations, caroling is as real and as lovely as you’ve seen in the movies, and fairytale-like carriage rides take guests through the beautiful historic sections of the city.

If you haven’t fallen in love yet, here are several events to look forward to this holiday season in our own Christmas City away from the North Pole. Emerging from European traditions, the Open-Air Christmas Market has commenced its annual spirit-spreading and will be held this upcoming weekend December 5, 6, and 7, as well as next weekend on the 12, 13, and 14 from 11-1 p.m. till 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11-5 p.m. Sunday. This wonderful event holds place in the very heart of the city, where wooden huts are stocked to the brim with holiday goodies, as well as famous German sauerkraut and bratwurst.

Another festivity to indulge in this season is the Live Advent Calendar, a unique tradition in which the endearing custom of giving comes to life — literally. Each day, beginning on December 1 at 5:30 p.m., visitors will gather before the Goundie House. From amid the gathered, one guest will be chosen to knock on the door and once answered, a representative of a local business or organization will present treats to the crowd — just like those chocolate calendars, but bigger and better.

Those with a knack for holiday tales should most definitely attend the Trees of Christmas Past. Featuring a variety of locations in the City of Bethlehem, each site will spotlight a decorated tree and a story detailing the city’s rich Christmas traditions throughout history. This holiday festivity has already commenced in November and will run through January 4, 2015.

Come Christmas time, not only is Bethlehem the ideal place for window shopping the most drool worthy holiday displays, but the city also offers several walking tours for visitors to savor while getting in the Christmas spirit. Set of your festive stroll with the city’s Candlelight Walking Tour which will guide you through the city’s unique story all the way back to its founding in 1741. Taking place through December 28, walk your way through the Christmas City once at 11 a.m. and once at 4 p.m. daily. On December 13, take a stroll through Luminaria Night, a magical evening holiday where you will walk through the city lit by votive candles in small white bags. While the charming walk is free, you may purchase and light your own luminaria for the price of ten dollars, a donation to New Bethany Ministries. Lastly, for those of us who wish to see the ins and outs of Christmas City, take a Holiday House Tour through some of Bethlehem’s oldest, most beautiful and diverse homes for only twenty dollars.

Even if you happen to be one of those, “grinchy” types who simply does not believe in the feeling of the holiday season, I advise a trip to Bethlehem. It is the Christmas City after all, and you may just start to believe a little after seeing it lit on a frosty, enchanting evening or a sunny morning at the market.

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