Our Stories

Home / Blog / Christkindlmarkt Celebrates the Holiday Season with Record-Setting Attendance

Christkindlmarkt Celebrates the Holiday Season with Record-Setting Attendance

December 20, 2023 | Written by

December 18, 2023, Bethlehem, PA – ArtsQuest is excited to announce that it has set a record for this year’s annual Christkindlmarkt, presented by Univest Financial! Just over 117,500 people attended the 31st annual Christmas market, up almost 10% from 2022 reporting around 107,000 visitors that year.

Crowds packed the market every weekend (even on rainy Sundays), which kicked off on Nov. 17 and ran for five consecutive weekends (including Thursdays) until coming to an end this past Sunday, Dec. 17. This year, Free Fridays were extended from 5 to 8 p.m., which allowed for an extra hour of admittance from last year.

Over 150 vendors, crafters and artisans – all small business mostly from the Lehigh Valley but others came from New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and even Wisconsin. There was truly something for everyone on your gift list; items for sale included traditional holiday-themed ornaments, hand-knit clothing, jewelry, candles, artwork, photography, woodwork, pet products and more. There was plenty to eat with free samples throughout the market and food for purchase included traditional German fare in addition to pizza, burgers, chicken and other sweet and savory eats. This year, there were several food trucks located outside the tents which helped alleviate longer food lines and gave additional menu options.

The ArtsQuest Glass Studio sold out its Glass Blowing Experience for the entirety of the weekends early on with 336 tickets sold and over 500 individuals, including children and their families, enjoyed Breakfast with St. Nick. This year, live music returned as strolling performers made up of choral groups from across the Lehigh Valley and local musicians played and sang carols throughout the market, mostly in front of the Christmas Tree on the PNC plaza. Additionally, the Ice Carving station enjoyed more visitors with its new location, next to the Visitor’s Center. Personal igloos and fire pits also added to the festive atmosphere. Bars were located in every tent and a large lounge area with several big screen TVs was located in the food tent for those who wanted to relax and take a break from shopping.

Additionally, this year’s Christkindlmarkt enjoyed two separate production teams filming the market and campus, one for a feature film and the second for a new TV show – both will be distributed in the fall of 2024.

“We are so grateful to everyone that came out this year, making Christkindlmarkt our largest and most successful event to date,” commented Eric Bauder, ArtsQuest Senior Events Manager. “We love being able to support small businesses which in turn positively impacts the entire city. We’d also like to thank our volunteers who helped spread holiday cheer every weekend along with the support of the Bethlehem Police Department who made safety a priority during the entire festival. Christkindlmarkt is just one of the many events that makes the Christmas City so special and unique during the holidays.”

The SteelStacks Ice Skating Rink presented by Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital also helped to bring in more crowds, with a reason to stay on campus before or after doing your holiday shopping. With a $5 admission discount (thanks to St. Nick) and fun themes like Tuesdays with Taylor (Swift), Latin, Bluey and more, skaters can enjoy the larger rink and viewing area, seven days a week and the rink will be open until Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 15. It’s a perfect way to celebrate the holiday season well into the New Year – and during PEEPS Fest!  

About ArtsQuest  
ArtsQuest’s mission is to provide access to exceptional artistic, cultural and educational experiences using arts and culture as key elements of economic development for our urban communities. ArtsQuest™ supports this mission via the presentation of performing and visual arts, film, arts education classes and outreach, youth programming and cultural events. Through festivals such as its flagship event, Musikfest; the Banana Factory Arts Center; and the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks arts and cultural campus, ArtsQuest’s programming reaches more than 1.9 million people annually. The organization’s programs and events, of which over 50% are free to attend, have a combined economic impact of more than $136 million annually in the region.