BETHLEHEM, Pa.— ArtsQuest’s Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem, presented by Univest Financial®, had a successful 30th year this holiday season, welcoming 107,272 attendees to this year’s market, breaking 2019’s record setting number (almost 95,000), and surpassing last year’s 93,500. Guests supported the market’s unique artisan and retail vendors for five weekends from Friday, Nov. 18 – Sunday, Dec. 18.
“This year’s Christkindlmarkt attracted so many people eager to support and shop from some of the nation’s finest artisans and small businesses,” Kassie Hilgert, President and CEO of ArtsQuest said. “We thank all our partners, sponsors, donors, volunteers and supporters who contributed to the magic and merriment here in Christmas City. We’re also pleased with how the Ice Rink at SteelStacks, presented by Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital, has enhanced Bethlehem’s charm and attraction for so many visiting individuals and families.”
Christkindlmarkt, voted one of the top two markets in 2022’s USA TODAY/10Best Holiday Market competition, twice named to Condé Nast’s list as one of the 32 best places to spend Christmas around the world, and named one of the top holiday markets in the world by Travel + Leisure, offered guests a unique in-person holiday shopping experience. The 2022 festival featured more than 215 vendors. 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 and artisans have told ArtsQuest they enjoyed the record crowds and record sales throughout the seasonally constructed market’s five-week run.
“The crowds were amazing,” Barbara Talijan of Owl Be Beading said. “I love the people, especially the ones who come back year-after-year and have become friends. I love being a part of family traditions.”
Daniel Durantaye, co-owner of Sunflower Trading Hat Company reported an increase in sales this year and echoed Talijan’s opinion of this year’s Christkindlmarkt. “However, when it comes to the more fun and personal aspects of the show that keep us coming back there are no shortage,” he said. “If I had to pick, it would be the decorations and atmosphere. Too many events undervalue the small touches. The Christmas trees, lights, igloos and new skating rink at Christkindlmarkt -which we enjoyed a lot- make all the difference.”
Carly Hurtado and Vincent Braccia, artisans and owners of Skyseed Energy said Christkindlmarkt provided them a unique opportunity to engage with potential customers. “We are so grateful to the team at ArtsQuest for providing a space for artists to get their art out to the public,” said Hurtado. “It’s so incredibly important to keep small businesses alive. Small businesses add so much value to our lives and country, enriching our lives and allowing us not to lose our uniqueness. ArtsQuest is keeping that fire alive for small business and art.”
Hurtado and Braccia shared that this year’s bestseller was their Cape May Diamonds, quartz Crystal found in Cape May and naturally tumbled in the ocean. “Our favorite part of Christkindlmarkt was seeing people connect with the gemstone,” Hurtado said. “Especially at the holidays, to be able to provide a handmade product to customers that also holds extra meaning is very heart warming.”
Early indications show food and beverage sales were up significantly when compared to 2021. Guests feasted from an array of seasonal eats like baklava, Strudel, German bratwurst, hand-rolled pretzels and a variety of dishes and drinks from 10 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.
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 the market’s community hours Friday nights throughout the festival when all entry fees were waived thanks to ArtsQuest’s partner LehighValleyNews.com. Families also enjoyed photos and activities with jolly Old St. Nicholas, presented by Just Born Quality Confections and Crayola.
“Univest Financial was proud serve as presenting sponsor of Christkindlmarkt for the fifth year,” said Annette D. Szygiel, Executive Vice President and Chief Experience Officer at Univest Financial. “We are thrilled people embraced this favorite tradition. Sponsoring this annual event is a great way to bring the community together while also supporting local artisans and small businesses. Univest is dedicated to giving back to the communities it serves and we are grateful for the opportunity to partner with ArtsQuest to support the arts in the Lehigh Valley.”
The Ice Rink at SteelStacks will remain open through Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023. Christkindlmarkt 2023 is scheduled to begin Friday, Nov. 17. Visit artsquest.org for more information on events coming up in the new year.