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Christmas in Bethlehem tours, events unveiled for 2015 holiday season

September 21st, 2015 |

September 19, 2015 | In The News

Written by KJ Frantz for Lehigh Valley Live

The calendar might say September, but Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites is gearing up for the holidays with a full slate of Christmas tours and programming for the 2015 season.

Beginning Nov. 16 and running through Jan. 10, visitors may participate in Christmas-themed tours designed to educate and inspire visitors to learn more about the history and Christmas traditions associated with Historic Bethlehem in this National Historic Landmark District.

Tour experiences include a new exhibition, the “100 Years of Gift Giving,” plus perennial offerings that include the Bethlehem By Night bus tour, horse-drawn carriage rides, the Christmas City Stroll walking tour, Holiday Putz Trail and Trees of Many Colors Christmas tree display.

Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts

Christmas presents, with their festive paper and bows, have been part of celebrations throughout the decades. The “100 Years of Gift Giving” exhibit at the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, 427 N. New St., will highlight the elements of gifting: concepts, shopping, making, wrapping and expressing gratitude.

Special items on loan from the Lehigh Archives, Duke University Special Collections and the artifact collection of Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites will connect gifting practices of the past to those in the present, with a focus on traditions connected with Bethlehem, “The Christmas City.”

Admission is included with a Pass Into History admission ticket.

Kemerer will also serve as the setting for a display of dollhouse treasures from one of the country’s premier dollhouse collections, the Elizabeth Johnston Prime Dollhouse collection. This Christmas-themed exhibit will highlight the work of German-based dollhouse manufacturer Moritz Gottschalk. Gottschalk’s company was one of the leading mass-market dollhouse manufacturers in the 1860s.

Admission to the Merry Christmas Moritz: Dollhouse Gallery exhibit is included with a Pass Into History admission.

Moravian Museum of Bethlehem

The Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, 66 W. Church St., will host a temporary winter exhibition, “All Dolled Up: Polly and Her Sisters,” focusing on the history and traditions associated with German doll making.

Dolls from the Moravian Museum collection — along with doll furniture, clothing and interpretive displays — will give visitors a view into the German toy companies that produced some of the most highly regarded, sought-after dolls.

Admission to this special exhibition is included with a Pass Into History admission.

Multi-site displays

Trees of Many Colors is a multi-site Christmas tree display featuring decorated trees that highlight specific time periods. The trees, decorated by volunteers of the Bethlehem Garden Club, will be displayed throughout the Christmas season at the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, the 1810 Goundie House, the Single Sisters’ House and the Luckenbach Mill in the Colonial Industrial Quarter, off Main Street in downtown Bethlehem.

Admission is included with a Pass Into History admission.

Holiday Putz Trail 

From the German word meaning “to decorate” or “to embellish,” the Holiday Putz Trail displays miniature replicas of the Nativity scene at the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem Gemeinhaus, Single Sisters’ House, 1810 Goundie House and Central Moravian Church, a new addition to the 2015 Holiday Putz Trail. This Moravian Christmas custom features ornate figurines, animals and building scenes to tell the Nativity story.

Admission is included with a Pass Into History admission.

Tours, rides, strolls and music

The Bethlehem By Night guided bus tour introduces visitors to the history and Christmas traditions of Historic Bethlehem. The tour includes a visit to South Mountain, site of Bethlehem’s Christmas star. Bethlehem By Night bus tours begin Nov. 27, and run through Dec. 27. Tour times are 5, 6 and 7 p.m., Thursday through Sunday, except for Sunday, Nov. 29.

Horse-drawn carriage rides will be offered Friday through Sunday through the Christmas season, from 3 to 9 p.m., beginning Nov. 27 and running through New Year’s Eve. Carriage rides are approximately 20 minutes, with rides traveling through the streets of downtown Historic Bethlehem.

Carriage ride tickets can be purchased at the Schropp Dry Goods Shoppe, 505 Main St., or by calling 1-800-360-TOUR. The carriage cost is $55 per carriage, and the carriages hold a maximum of four passengers.

Visitors can also explore Bethlehem’s Christmas traditions with the Christmas City Stroll, a guided city walking tours led by certified docents dressed in period Moravian attire.

These walking tours highlight several distinctive landmarks in Bethlehem’s National Historic Landmark District, including the 1741 Gemeinhaus and the Bethlehem Waterworks. Walking tours are held at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

Local musicians and caroling docents will lend voice and instruments to holiday music performed at the sites. Scheduled public concerts at the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem will be held Dec. 3, Dec. 10 and Dec. 17 at 6 p.m., and Jan. 2, 2016, at 4 p.m.

A full schedule of musical performances can be found at HistoricBethlehem.org or call 800-360-TOUR or 610-882-0450.

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