It’s that magical time of year, when twinkling lights, horse-drawn carriages, and joyous laughter begins to radiate from Lehigh Valley’s Christmas City. Founded by Moravians on Christmas Eve in 1741, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is a nationally recognized top holiday destination in the U.S. and it has much to offer both residents and visitors.
Just in time for the holiday season, discover some top tourist attractions in Bethlehem and around the Lehigh Valley region.
Whether it’s a peaceful walk through the historic streets of Christmas City or perusing the beautiful hand blown glass ornaments and unique treasures at Christkindlmarkt, Bethlehem offers a picturesque scene of holiday charm that brings hope to locals and visitors alike.
A quick and easy drive from both Philadelphia and New York City, a holiday getaway is made possible in Lehigh Valley with these insider tips from Discover Lehigh Valley’s tourism office:
Christmas City Attractions
Premier Holiday Markets
Recognized as a top holiday market by Travel+Leisure, Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem’s reimagined outdoor format features 60 artisans and vendors, delicious food, St. Nicholas, and German ornament manufacturer Käthe Wohlfahrt.
Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem is open until December 6. Visitors may also enjoy the Christmas Huts on Main, an outdoor shopping experience inspired by the German Weihnachtsmarkt that is open weekends until December 22.
Holiday Décor & Shopping
Named a top historic hotel by USA Today, Historic Hotel Bethlehem is decked for the holidays with 35,000 lights, an elegantly adorned exterior and lobby, and stunning Nativity scene
Located steps away, the Moravian Book Shop is recognized as the oldest continually operating bookstore in the country. Visitors can browse their impressive collection of authors and genres and purchase a Moravian star to complete their holiday décor.
Historic Bethlehem Holiday Tours
Nominated to the U.S. Tentative List for World Heritage Designation, Historic Bethlehem welcomes visitors to enjoy a self-guided tour of the city’s 19 historic buildings, 20 acres of land and two National Historic Landmarks.
As visitors stroll the grounds, they will witness twinkling lights on Main Street, candle-lined windows, and the iconic “Star of Bethlehem” atop South Mountain. Discover more of Christmas City during a horse-drawn carriage ride through the historic streets.
The festivities don’t stop there. Lehigh Valley also boasts a wide variety of holiday events and activities throughout Lehigh and Northampton counties to keep the magic going all season long.
Businesses and tourist attractions have found ways to bring these holiday events to residents and travelers, prioritizing safety and implementing COVID-safe practices to ensure a more enjoyable experience. Many attractions now have timed, ticketed events and have mask requirements to remain in compliance with state mandates.
Safe, Family Fun in Lehigh Valley
Wow-worthy Light Displays
Featured on TODAY, Koziar’s Christmas Village boasts more than one million lights covering buildings, barns, and countryside. The walk-through display is family-owned and operated for more than 70 years and shines until January 1.
The Lehigh Valley Zoo’s Winter Light Spectacular is another walk-through display with over 1.2 million lights. The Lehigh Valley Zoo display operates until January 2 and tickets are required. To enjoy over a mile of lights from the comfort of your car, discover Allentown’s Lights in the Parkway until December 27.
Historic Train Rides
Colebrookdale Railroad is located in the heart of Lehigh Valley and welcomes visitors to enjoy holiday music and a reading of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Allentown & Auburn Railroad’s holiday ride features Santa and Mrs. Claus as visitors sightsee many of Lehigh Valley’s delightful boroughs. Both train rides are offered on various dates in November and December.
Family Fun for New Year’s Eve
PEEPSFEST® is a two-day premier, family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration. This year’s event welcomes families virtually or in-person with limited seating to kick off the New Year by dropping a 4-foot-9-inch tall, 400-pound, giant yellow, light-up PEEP. PEEPSFEST® commemorates the New Year before bedtime at 5:15 p.m. on December 31.
Unwind this Holiday Season
Enjoy holiday-themed dinner theater shows
Enjoy an in-person show of “At the Stroke of Midnight” at Pines Dinner Theatre until December 20. Catch the Allentown Symphony Orchestra in Miller Symphony Hall from the comfort of your home with shows on December 11 and December 18. Nutcracker enthusiasts will enjoy the historic State Theatre Center for the Arts’ virtual performance on December 19.
Try seasonal craft drinks
Sample Fegley’s Brew Works’ award-winning Rude Elf’s Reserve, a seasonal Belgian-style ale. Find the perfect locally made spirit at Eight Oaks Farm Distillery and Social Still for handcrafted seasonal cocktails.
Select a Lehigh Valley award-winning wine to pair with holiday dinner, including the region’s signature Chambourcin, which helped Lehigh Valley earn American Viticultural Area distinction.
Experience winter village
The Winter Village in Historic Easton, Lehigh Valley’s newest holiday attraction, welcomes guests to enjoy hot cocoa, ice skating, sweet treats, and local holiday shopping huts while gazing upon the Easton Peace Candle.
The Winter Village in Historic Easton is open Friday thru Sunday starting November 27 until December 31.
About Discover Lehigh Valley
Discover Lehigh Valley®, the official destination marketing organization of Pennsylvania’s Lehigh and Northampton counties, is dedicated to driving economic growth and strengthening local pride through tourism to the region.
Just 60 minutes north of Philadelphia and 90 minutes west of New York City, Lehigh Valley is home to must-see attractions and festivals, world-class sporting events, thrilling outdoor recreation, renowned colleges and universities, and historic sites including Bethlehem, a National Historic Landmark District and nominee on the U.S. Tentative List for World Heritage Designation.
Many of America’s favorite brands such as Crayola®, Peeps®, Mike & Ike®, Martin Guitars, Mack Trucks and Olympus reign from Lehigh Valley. Visit DiscoverLehighValley.com and follow @LehighValleyPa.
All photos courtesy of Discover Lehigh Valley.