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Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem Holiday Market Opens Oct. 8 at SteelStacks

Event Transforming into 8-Week Outdoor Market Running Through Nov. 29; Tickets Go on Sale This Week

September 21, 2020 | Written by Mark Demko

Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem, the popular holiday market that takes place in the Christmas City each autumn, returns for its 28th year with an all-new outdoor format featuring 60 artisans and vendors per weekend, as well as food and dining options, St. Nicholas and the return of popular German ornament manufacturer Käthe Wohlfahrt. The market, presented by Univest Financial®, will be open Thurs.-Sun., Oct. 8-Nov. 29 (closed Thanksgiving). Tickets for the first two weekends will be available Sept. 23, 10 a.m., to ArtsQuest Members and go on sale Sept. 25, 10 a.m., to the public at www.christmascity.org; additional on-sale dates will be announced soon.

Named one of the top holiday markets in the world by Travel + Leisure and one of the top holiday markets in North America by USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice competition, Christkindlmarkt is known for its unique holiday shopping experience featuring dozens of artisans offering thousands of unique, handmade gifts and holiday items.

For 2020, the event has undergone a major transformation. Gone are the four large tents on SteelStacks’ PNC Plaza and in is a spacious, new layout highlighted by artisans and artists’ huts spread across the SteelStacks campus, coupled with the unique holiday décor and lighting of Rileighs Outdoor Décor. When the market opens in autumn, it will offer a fall festival flair, while November’s arrival will usher in a variety of holiday programming as it takes on the feel of an outdoor German market.

Attractions and Vendors

From stunning fine art photos of the Christmas City to handmade Moravian glass stars, Christkindlmarkt 2020 will offer a one-of-a-kind shopping experience that focuses on handmade gifts crafted by local and regional artisans, as well as holiday décor and collectibles offered by some of the region’s top Christmas vendors. Artisans appearing at the market in October will feature autumn-themed gifts and home décor, while merchants taking part in November will offer a variety of fine art, gifts and collectibles perfect for the holidays.

Germany’s Käthe Wohlfahrt, one of Christkindlmarkt’s main attractions, will be on hand for all eight weeks, marking its 21st straight year at the event. Renowned for its exquisite, handmade nutcrackers, incense smokers, pyramids, schwibbogens and wood, glass and pewter ornaments, the company offers more than 2,000 products, making it a popular destination for patrons.

Also joining Christkindlmarkt 2020 are local favorites such as Domaci, Donegal Square & McCarthy’s Red Stag Pub and Eight Oaks Farm Distillery. While many artisans and vendors will be in attendance all eight weeks, participating vendors will change regularly, offering patrons a different experience every weekend. The full list of vendors will be announced later this month.

“Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem was founded in 1993 to support tourism, crafters and the many small businesses based here in Bethlehem,” says ArtsQuest President & CEO Kassie Hilgert. “Over the years, the event has certainly grown, but one thing has remained the same – people look forward to visiting the market and Bethlehem every fall, especially as Christmas approaches, because of the Christmas City’s authentic celebration of the holidays.

“This year, more than ever, it’s important to support these crafters and businesses, the majority of whom have been hit hard by pandemic-related restrictions and closures, so we are excited that we have been able to transform Christkindlmarkt into an authentic outdoor market and provide an opportunity for local artisans and vendors to support their livelihood. The City of Bethlehem has worked closely with us to implement CDC and Department of Health safety guidelines in a way that will still deliver a wonderful experience for patrons and a respite from the challenges of this year by celebrating the holidays with family and friends.”

Once the calendar flips to November, Christkindlmarkt will take on a distinct holiday feel as the event celebrates St. Nicholas’ arrival on Sat., Nov. 7. The jolly, old man will be on hand for special story times and socially distanced photos on Saturdays, while Sundays will feature new virtual “Cooking with St. Nicholas” events for families via Zoom.

“We look forward to serving as the presenting sponsor of Christkindlmarkt for the third consecutive year,” says Annette D. Szygiel, executive vice president and chief experience officer at Univest Financial. “At Univest Financial, we seek opportunities to allow our communities to enjoy the arts and culture of our local region. It is exciting that this favorite annual tradition can continue thanks to the efforts of the ArtsQuest team who adjusted the approach of the event and established protocols to ensure the safety of visitors.

“For more than 144 years, Univest has been dedicated to supporting our local communities and we have remained steadfast to that even during the pandemic. We are proud to continue this partnership because making these investments during uncertain and vulnerable times is a testament to our corporate values.”

The Food and Music

As with past years, Christkindlmarkt will feature a variety of delicious food, including holiday fare like strudel, German bratwurst and Christmas cookies. As they arrive, guests will find offerings from area food trucks at the event’s entrance, while inside patrons can visit the Christkindlmarkt Food Court featuring a special holiday themed menu created by the Levy Culinary Team at SteelStacks. People who purchase food will also be able to eat in the event’s Biergarten, offering a diverse array of beers including Yuengling Hershey Chocolate Porter, as well as hot toddies and other beverages.

Come November, Christkindlmarkt will offer a new “Outdoor Dining and a Show” experience, complete with a special holiday dining menu, on SteelStacks’ Air Products Town Square. Two different seating sessions – 11 a.m.-1:15 p.m. and 1:45-4 p.m. – will be offered and artists set to take the stage include Dolcetto, Joy Ike and Craig Thatcher & Nyke Van Wyk. Parties who want to attend the “Outdoor Dining and a Show” events will need to make a separate advance reservation; complete details on the series will be announce in October.

Tickets & Admission – NEW FOR 2020!

For the safety of all patrons, staff and volunteers, Christkindlmarkt will not sell “any-day” general admission tickets for 2020. Instead, patrons must purchase admission tickets in advance for the date and time they wish to attend the market.

Tickets will be sold for designated admission times starting every half hour to reduce lines and wait times, as well as help ArtsQuest staff and volunteers ensure safe, smooth flow into and through the event. ArtsQuest staff and volunteers will be stationed at the entrance to each Christkindlmarkt section to ensure the maximum capacity for each area is not exceeded.

Patrons are expected to wear their personal protection masks and face coverings unless they are eating and drinking; all city and state social distancing and COVID-19 safety regulations will be in effect. Individuals who walk up to Christkindlmarkt without an admission ticket will only be permitted to buy tickets to a session that has not reached its capacity limit.

Admission ticket prices are as follows; children ages 2 and under are free:

Thursdays: $9
Fridays: $10
Saturdays: $10
Sundays: $10

Christkindlmarkt Dates and Hours:
Thurs.-Sun., Oct. 8-Nov. 29
(closed Thurs., Nov. 26 for Thanksgiving)
Thurs., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (last entry at 4:30 p.m.)
Fri., 10 a.m.-8 p.m. (last entry at 6:30 p.m.)
Sat., 10 a.m.-8 p.m. (last entry at 6:30 p.m.)
Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (last entry at 4:30 p.m.)

Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem presented by Univest Financial®, takes place at SteelStacks, located at 645 E. First St., Bethlehem. Patrons can park for free in the parking lots on First Street.

Safety Guidelines and Regulations

The health and safety of our patrons, vendors and everyone attending Christkindlmarkt is of the utmost importance to ArtsQuest and we have established a number of best practices and procedures based on guidelines from the CDC, City of Bethlehem and our state. These include practicing safe social distancing; requiring staff, volunteers, vendors and patrons to wear facemasks in all indoor and outdoor areas except when eating and drinking; following event capacity guidelines established by the Commonwealth; and greatly expanding and enhancing our cleaning and disinfecting procedures throughout the event.

All vendors are also required to adhere to all safety guidelines put in place for the event. Complete details on COVID-19 health and safety practices for ArtsQuest and our patrons can be found here.

In addition to Univest Financial®, partners helping make Christkindlmarkt possible include Bazella Group, Burkholder’s Heating and Air Conditioning Inc., Crayola, D. G. Yuengling & Son, Kistler O’Brien Fire Protection, Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE), NJM Insurance and Service Electric Cable TV & Communications, along with media partners 69-WFMZ-TV, 99.9 The Hawk, 100.7 WLEV, Cat Country 96, Adams Outdoor, B104, NewsRadio 790 WAEB, 95.1 WZZO and Tri Outdoor. Additional details on Christkindlmarkt 2020 will be announced throughout the fall. For tickets and more information, visit www.christmascity.org.