Photo Courtesy: Jeff Auger
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – ArtsQuest’s Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem, presented by Univest Financial®, had a successful 29th year this holiday season. More than 93,500 people attended this year’s market, a number second only to 2019’s record-setting number (almost 95,000). Guests supported the market’s 167 unique craft and retail vendors for five weekends from Fri., Nov. 19 – Sun., Dec. 19.
“Visitors from the Lehigh Valley and beyond answered the call to shop small this holiday season,” Kassie Hilgert, President and CEO of ArtsQuest said. “More than ever, this year’s Christkindlmarkt was a lifeline for so many artists, crafters and retailers from our region. We were thrilled to return to a full-scale festival this year and we thank all of our sponsors, donors and supporters who helped us contribute to the magic of all the wonderful activities, charm and attractions that make Bethlehem the Christmas City.”
Christkindlmarkt, voted one of the top two markets in 2021’s USA TODAY/10Best Holiday Market competition, offered guests a unique in-person holiday shopping experience. The 2021 festival featured more than 100 Pennsylvania-based vendors and 66 live musical performances. Along with local vendors, guests were able to shop from around the world from holiday favorites like Germany’s Käthe Wohlfahrt handmade ornaments and collectibles. Many new and returning vendors have told ArtsQuest they enjoyed record sales throughout the festival’s five-week run.
“It was great to be back, we saw a lot of former clients and made a lot of new friends,” Michael Sandy of Michael Sandy Photography said. Sandy, known for his stunning photography featuring Bethlehem’s unique architecture, has been a vendor at Christkindlmarkt for more than a decade. “ArtsQuest did an amazing job of getting people in this year. This was probably our best show ever financially in a five-week period. The experience was absolutely fantastic.”
Early indications show food and beverage sales were up significantly when compared to both 2019 and 2018. Guests feasted from an array of seasonal eats like strudel, German bratwurst and a variety of dishes from eight local food vendors. Attendees also got into the holiday spirit by enjoying beverages at the festival’s additional bar and by sampling from local distillers and vintners.
“I think people were rejoicing and happy to be out and about this holiday season,” Elaine Pivinski, Owner of Franklin Hill Vineyards said. “The energy levels of the ArtsQuest team and our teams were the perfect match. Our sales were strong and we were proud to give people the opportunity to give great gifts made here in the Lehigh Valley.”
The success of Christkindlmarkt would not be possible without hundreds of ArtsQuest volunteers and the support from presenting sponsor Univest Financial and the corporate community. Thousands of visitors took advantage of new community hours on Friday nights throughout the festival when all entry fees were waived thanks to ArtsQuest’s partner T-Mobile. Families enjoyed photos and activities with jolly Old St. Nicholas, presented by NJM Insurance and Just Born Quality Confections throughout the five-weekend festival.
“Univest Financial was proud to again serve as presenting sponsor of Christkindlmarkt,” said Annette D. Szygiel, Executive Vice President and Chief Experience Officer at Univest Financial. “The overwhelmingly positive response to this event and stellar attendance is a testament to Christkindlmarkt being a favorite Christmas City tradition. Univest is dedicated to supporting the local communities we serve and this event was especially important this year as it provided a great opportunity to support local artisans and small businesses at a time they need it more than ever. Thanks to ArtsQuest for their dedication to safely bringing the community together in support of the arts in the Lehigh Valley.”
ArtsQuest would like to thank elected officials Sen. Pat Browne, Sen. Lisa Boscola, Rep. Steve Samuelson, Northampton County Council and County Executive Lamont McClure, as well as Lehigh County Commissioners and County Executive Phillips Armstrong, who provided CARES Act funding that kept our doors open, allowing ArtsQuest to bring this festival back.
Christkindlmarkt 2022 is scheduled to begin on Fri., Nov. 18. Visit artsquest.org for more information on events coming up in the new year.