They may call it the Christmas City, but Bethlehem offers plenty of opportunities to let loose all year long. From monthly community events to one of the country’s best independent music festivals, there’s always reason to celebrate! The city and various community organizations do an excellent job of listing
upcoming events at www.bethlehem.info.
Plan your visit accordingly.
Third and Fourth Sts.
True to its name, First Friday takes place on the first Friday of every month in South Side. Participating members of the Downtown Bethlehem Association, primarily on Third and Fourth streets, stay open late and feature musical acts, art shows, store specials and much, much more. It’s a unique way to get to know Bethlehem’s other downtown and to foster a sense of community among artists, shopkeepers, locals and visitors.
Spring on Fourth! What’s on Third?
April 2010, Third, Fourth and New Sts.
Now in its 15th year, the annual Spring on Fourth! Festival has grown into a block party for the entire South Side. Featuring musical performances, family activities and the ever-popular chili cook off, Spring on Fourth! is an excellent venue to kick off the festival season. Local merchants get in on the act with featured sales and special discounts.
May 7-8 and 13-15, 2010
Packer Chapel at Lehigh University
The all-volunteer Bach Choir of Bethlehem was founded in 1898 and the annual Bach Festival, now in its 103rd year, has been hosted in the city for nearly as long. This year’s theme focuses on the music of Bach and Mary, Mother of God. A mix of free and ticketed events are planned, including the performance of one of Bach’s most beloved cantatas, the Annunciation Cantata BWV 147 Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, not heard at the festival since 1985. If you’re not in town for the festival, stop by the Central Moravian Church on the second Tuesday of most months at noon for a free concert. More information about the choir is available at www.bach.org.
Southside Film Festival
June 15-19, 2010
Various locations, South Side
The Southside Film Festival is the major activity of the Southside Film Institute – a not-for-profit organization catering to the needs of all filmmakers in the Lehigh Valley. Now in its fifth official year, the festival offers a week of film, friends, food and spirits with a mission of preserving and promoting the art of independent filmmaking. The 2010 schedule includes opening and closing night parties, screenings and informational sessions. For more information, visit www.southsidefilmfestival.com.
July 2010, Burnside Plantation
The 25th Annual Blueberry Festival offers a weekend full of great food, live music and down home family fun. Hosted by the Historic Bethlehem Partnership and held at Burnside Plantation, a historic Moravian farm, the festival does much more than celebrate summer’s harvest. Visitors can tour the plantation, visit baby farm animals, learn about Moravian history and yes, eat all the blueberry pie you can handle. The festival is also home to one of the area’s most prominent craft shows, attracting more than 50 booths every year. For more information, visit www.historicbethlehem.org.
August 6-15, 2010, Various locations, Historic Downtown Bethlehem
“America’s Music Festival” has been presented by ArtsQuest since 1984. In its first year, the festival attracted 182,000 people. This year, more than 1 million people are expected to come to Bethlehem to see more than 300 musical performers on 14 different stages (11 of which are 100 percent free). Whether you love gospel, polka, rock, rap, pop, country or anything in between, Musikfest has a “platz” for you. Toss in some of the best carnival food anywhere, hundreds of free activities, craft booths, souvenir vendors and free giveaways (plus fireworks!) and you’ve got some of the best entertainment around. For more information, visit www.musikfest.org.
Sept. 24-26, 2010, Various locations, Historic Downtown Bethlehem
The Celtic Classic Highland Games and Festival is the largest Celtic festival in the country, attracting more than 260,000 visitors annually. For 23 years, this free festival has celebrated Celtic culture and brought together the heritage of Irish, Scottish and Welsh people. Featuring pipe band competitions, Highland athletic games, the “Showing of the Tartans,” a haggis eating contest, fiddle competition and a diverse mix of Celtic crafts and collectibles, Celtic Classic is a truly unique event. Find your clan or just enjoy the entertainment! Presented by the Celtic Cultural Alliance, the festival also includes community outreach and education events at school districts, local theaters and colleges throughout the Lehigh Valley. For more information, visit www.celticfest.org.
October 2010, Main Street
A true community event, hosted by various local groups, Harvest Festival celebrates everything that’s great about fall – fresh, abundant produce, cool, crisp weather and beer! From the morning produce market to the fine arts and craft vendors, Harvest Festival is a day full of fun, food and live music. The event ends with a beer sampling in the evening under the tent on Main Street. Apple desserts, soup sampling and a 19th century brewing demonstration round out the day. For more information, visit www.bethlehemharvestfestival.com.
Nov. 26-28, Dec. 2-5, 9-12, 16-19, 2010, Historic Downtown Bethlehem
One of the world’s top-rated holiday markets, Christkindlmarkt is a shopper’s dream, attracting approximately 60,000 visitors annually. Based on the German tradition of towns and villages hosting festive outdoor markets during the holiday season, Christkindlmarkt features aisle after aisle of exquisite, hand-crafted items from some of the country’s finest artisans. Stop by and say hi to Jolly Ol’ Saint Nicholas, and pick up authentic German ornaments, nutcrackers, smokers and other collectibles. Shopping isn’t all that’s on the agenda. Singers, high school choirs, and a 26-foot tall Christmas tree bring to this celebration the sounds and sights of the season. Presented by ArtsQuest, Christkindlmarkt dates back to 1993. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.christmascity.org.
First Night Bethlehem
December 31, 2010, Throughout Downtown Bethlehem
Whether you’ve outgrown the bar scene or not yet grown into it, First Night Bethlehem offers an alcohol-free, family-friendly alternative to ring in the New Year. Bundle up and watch ice carving demonstrations, live bands, the infamous Just Born Peep Drop and fireworks at midnight. Presented by ArtsQuest, the event runs throughout the day at various locations in downtown Bethlehem and features numerous children’s activities, like s’more making, snowman building and ice skating. Most venues are within walking distance and a trolley runs throughout the day to make every venue accessible. For more information, visit www.christmascity.org.