Christkindlmarkt sees record attendance
They came from England and the Virgin Islands, Arizona and Oregon, to celebrate the holidays in Bethlehem! When all was said and done, nearly 95,000 visitors travelled to Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem and the Christmas City this year.
Attendance at the 2019 edition of Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem presented by Univest Financial was 94,980, a new record for the event. During Christkindlmartkt’s five-weekend run, attendees came from more than 25 states, as well as England, Canada and beyond. Attendance was up three percent from 2018, when 92,297 people visited the holiday marketplace.
“From the quaint shopping and amazing dining experiences on Main Street and in the SouthSide Arts District, to the historic walking tours and Christmas Putz at Central Moravian Church, there are few towns in America that can top the holiday experience in Bethlehem,” says Kassie Hilgert, President & CEO of ArtsQuest, the nonprofit that presents Christkindlmarkt. “Each year, we try to offer new experiences alongside more traditional attractions and, looking at the attendance numbers, that mix of old and new resonated with visitors. Since 1993, Christkindlmakrt has welcomed nearly 1.5 million people to our city and our region and that’s something of which we can all be proud.
“As a nonprofit arts and cultural organization, we are thrilled that we can play a role in bringing people from near and far to the city each year to experience what makes the Christmas City so special to so many. Thank you to all of the sponsors, staff, volunteers, vendors and visitors who helped to make this a record year and set Christkindlmarkt apart as one of the best holiday events in the nation.”
Recently named one of Top 3 Holiday Markets in North America by USA Today’s 10Best, Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem celebrated its 27th year with more than 200 of the nation’s finest vendors and artisans, glassblowing and ice sculpting demonstrations, an authentic German St. Nicholas, family activities and more. Established in 1993 to complement tourism efforts in the Christmas City during the holidays, the event has long focused on showcasing the region’s small businesses and talented artisans. While vendors come from more than 20 states, approximately 70 percent of the participants are from the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas of Eastern Pennsylvania.
“Bethlehem has been known as Christmas City, USA since the 1930s, drawing people from throughout the country to the city and the Valley to celebrate the holidays,” says Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez. “While people love strolling historic Main Street, shopping and seeing the Star of Bethlehem atop South Mountain, for many it all starts with a visit to Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem.
“When you think that USA Today named Christkindlmarkt one of the top holiday markets in the nation, that says volumes not just about the event, but about the entire Christmas experience we offer here in our city. The feeling and atmosphere that we have here during the holidays is one of the primary reasons so many people come back to visit the city and region at other times of the year as well.”
The 2019 Christkindlmarkt was the largest ever, with a new outdoor village added to the attractions thanks in part to a grant from the County of Northampton. During the event, guests were able to shop on PNC Plaza adjacent to SteelStacks’ blast furnaces and the giant Christmas Tree, sit by cozy outdoor fire pits and relax in igloos while enjoying Glühwein or a hot toddy.
“Christkindlmarkt hosts the talents of some of our finest local artisans and vendors,” says Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure. “The County of Northampton is thrilled to welcome visitors from across the nation and around the world to the Christmas City this holiday season.”
Christkindlmarkt is made possible thanks to the support of Univest Financial and 40 other sponsors, as well as 350 volunteers who donate thousands of hours during the event. Dates for Christkindlmarkt 2020 are Nov. 20-22 and 27-29 and Dec. 3-6, 10-13 and 17-20.
For more information, visit www.christmascity.org.