Release: Holiday Activities
BETHLEHEM, PA- On December 24, 1741, our city was christened “Bethlehem” by the Moravian Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf. In 1937, it was deemed “Christmas City, USA.” Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites’ tours, museums and programs are a great way to be immersed in the holiday spirit while taking in scenic Bethlehem, the newest National Historic landmark District in Pennsylvania. Experience the magic of the most wonderful time of the year and take a trip back in time with all the activities Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites has to offer this holiday season.
Christmas City Stroll
Talk a candlelit walk through beautiful downtown Historic Bethlehem with our certified guide in period dress. Discover the story of the city’s unique beginning in 1741, the tales of a candle-in-every-window, and the renowned Bethlehem Star. Historic highlights include Bethlehem’s exquisite Victorian and colonial architecture, including two National Historic Landmarks, the 1741 Gemeinhaus and the Bethlehem Waterworks. The tour route is part of the National Historic Landmark District of Historic Moravian Bethlehem.
Tickets for this tour are $12 for adults, $6 for children age 6-12 and free for children under the age of 6. Tours will begin November 28 and 29 at 4pm and will resume December 3 to December 28, every Wednesday-Sunday at 4 p.m., excluding Christmas Day.
Scenic Holiday Carriage Rides
Let Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites give you the holiday experience of a lifetime with a stroll through Christmas City in a horse drawn carriage. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the holidays and the city’s beautiful 18th Century architecture with your loved one or family as you pass through almost 300 years of history and the newest National Historic Landmark District in Pennsylvania. Visitors will be inspired by Historic Bethlehem’s 18th Century architecture
Beginning November 28, the carriage rides will be offered every Thursday through Sunday from 4-9:20pm, and will be approximately 15 minutes in length. The tickets cost $55 per carriage, each fitting a group of four. Rides will not be offered Christmas Day, December 25.
To purchase your carriage ride, call 1-800-360-TOUR or stop in at the Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites Visitor Center at 505 Main Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018.
Bethlehem by Night Bus Tour
Visitors can sit back and experience the Christmas City on a trip back in time with our certified guide in period dress. Deemed “the best way to see Bethlehem”, this tour includes a visit to the famous star atop South Mountain, a look at early and current local holiday traditions, and access to historic highlights in north and south Bethlehem.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $6 for children age 3-12. Children under 3 are free while sitting on an adult’s lap. Take this tour every Thursday through Saturday at 5, 6 and 7pm or Sunday at 4, 5 and 6pm, November 28 through December 23. The tour will pick up again daily at 5, 6 and 7pm from December 26 to December 30.
Holiday Museum Tours
Tour Historic Bethlehem’s sites in the heart of the downtown, and learn about the city’s founders, early trades, and decorative arts influence.
Stop in to the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, housed in the 1741 Gemeinhaus, which is Bethlehem’s oldest standing building and a National Historic Landmark. Hear stories of how Bethlehem Moravians lived, worked and worshipped while keeping your eye out for holiday decor, including pyramids of greens with candles and fruit- considered one of the country’s oldest holiday decorations. This is the perfect place to get sugar cookies, Moravian stars, and other local favorites.
Then, head up to the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts and experience old favorites and beautiful new traditions at Bethlehem’s premiere decorative arts museum. Gaze in wonder at the array of Christmas trees dressed in the spirit of Historic Bethlehem’s museums, sites, and stories while passing through rooms and halls decked in antique, unique decorations.
Finally, see sparks fly at one of the most popular destinations in Christmas City, the 1750 Smithy. There will be live demonstrations by trained blacksmiths as well as an explanation of the important early Bethlehem trade. The blacksmiths provide warmth and humor for the whole family – and it’s free of charge!
Be sure to also see the Trees of Christmas Past, a Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites cross-site holiday exhibition. Each site will feature trees decorated by The Bethlehem Garden Club, catering to several different time periods. Guests are encouraged to vote for their favorite trees in this year’s contest. Winners from the top favorite tree will win a free membership from Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites and the Smithsonian Institution.
While viewing the tree displays in awe, make sure to see our new Putzes at the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, the Single Sister’s House and Burnside Plantation. A Putz is a traditional Moravian decoration used around Christmas time. The word comes from the German term, which means “to decorate” or “to embellish.” These miniature replicas depict various settings of the Nativity story through the use of ornately produced figurines, animals and building structures to recreate the holiest of scenes.
After enjoying these exhibits, experience the sights and sounds of Christmas in downtown historic Bethlehem. Stop by the Single Sister’s House to take pleasure in the wonderful voices of our caroling Docents, accompanied by the soothing sounds of a recorder. Also be on the lookout for our Docents caroling in the streets throughout the holiday season. Stop, listen, and even sing along to your favorite holiday tunes.
Groman’s Moravian Sugar Cookies
Since 1925, the Groman family has been providing Bethlehem with the very best Moravian sugar cookies and cakes in town. Though the family bakery closed some years ago, Richard Groman carries on his family’s legacy by baking traditional Moravian sugar cookies using his family’s original recipe for the holiday season. These delicious holiday treats are back by popular demand.
Using all natural ingredients since the bakery first opened, the Groman family has always been known for their unique flavor that you just can’t find anywhere else. Proceeds from the cookies will help benefit Historic Bethlehem Museum & Sites, which preserves three centuries of Bethlehem’s rich history.
Stop in at the Visitor Center or the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts starting the week before Thanksgiving and pick up some boxes of star shaped sugar cookies for only $12.50 per box. Visitors can also purchase their cookies online at HistoricBethlehem.org.