Guests shop at the Christkindlmarkt on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. The festival runs Thursdays through Sundays until Dec. 20. (Aminat Ologunebi/B&W Photo)

Christkindlemarkt brings ‘spirit of Bethlehem alive’

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Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem has returned for its 23rd year at the Steel Stacks.

According to its press release, this festival is a one-of-a-kind family event that brings the spirit of Bethlehem alive.

Hosting over 130 vendors from 14 different states, guests can find live music, arts and crafts, food and more while walking through the marketplace during its five weeks of business on weekends that started Nov. 20.

The release also described some of the festivals biggest hits with the younger children being Breakfast with St. Nicolas, which includes hot breakfast, a picture with St. Nicolas, a goodie bag, and more, along with a new event where the Nazareth Ceramic Center allows children to make their own handprint ornament.

Other hands-on-experiences include make your own silk scarf, and make your own glass holiday ornament where they take customers through each step such as gathering molten glass to adding color and shaping the ornament. Additionally, visitors can see sculpting demonstrations and a blacksmith.

“One of the things people really love about Christkindlmarkt is being able to stroll the aisles upon aisles of unique works, holiday decorations and home décor as they look for the perfect gift for family and loved ones,” said Mark Demko, senior director of communications at ArtsQuest.

Every year, different artisans are joining the marketplace to give the customers a new experience each time they visit. This year, 35 new crafters will be at the event for their first time.

The press release said some of the new crafters include High Strung Studios of Bradley Beach, New Jersey; Breezy Meadow Farm of Perkasie, Pennsylvania; Loophead Duudles of Muir, Pennsylvania; and Big Belly Banks of Elizabethtown, New York. The crafters offer a variety of products ranging from jewelry, holiday items, drawings and ceramics.

Demko said about 60,000 people attend the market each year throughout the eastern United States, and with Lehigh being such a short walk away, he believes many university students will attend as they have in the past.

“It’s the perfect destination for students to visit if they are looking for something exciting to do on the weekend or want to shop for unique gifts for family and friends before heading home for the holiday break,” he said.

Käthe Wohlfarht, a German native, who specializes in hand-crafted German gifts, is making her annual return to the marketplace with her handmade ornaments, nutcrackers and collectibles.

“Käthe Wohlfarht has been coming to Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem longer than any other holiday market in America,” Demko said.

This year customers will be able to find more than 2,000 items from German Christmas tradition for purchase.

Beginning in 1993, this festival also helps complement Bethlehem’s other events and viewings it has as the Christmas City.

“Many of the people who visit the festival spend the day or even the entire weekend in Bethlehem, enjoying all the other events, shops and restaurants the city has to offer,” Demko said.

Christkindlmarkt will continue to be open throughout weekends in December. The hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The cost of admission is $9 for ages 13 and older, $5 for children ages 6-12, and ages 5 and under are free.

“The goal of Christkindlmarkt is to provide a wonderful holiday experience, while also introducing visitors to everything the city and region have to offer,” Demko said.

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