If you’re looking for the iconic Pennsylvania Christmas town, Bethlehem is your destination. With that famous name and Pennsylvania German heritage, Bethlehem attracts visitors to the region from near and far.
One favorite attraction is the Holiday Putz Trail, a collection of displays at two historic sites open for Christmastime. As it pertains to the name of the trail, “Putz” is a traditional Moravian decoration used around the holiday season; the word comes from the German term “to decorate.” The small replicas depict various Nativity settings using embellished, hand-crafted figurines. Each set may include animals, buildings, and other detail-oriented features to recreate the scenes of the holiday
A main location on the Putz Trail is the Moravian Museum Gemeinhaus which introduces guests to the earliest history of the Bethlehem community. Guests discover the stories behind Bethlehem’s founders, including early Moravian, communal living, medical practices, missionary work, and a growing educational system.
The Moravain Museum of Bethlehem complex includes some of the most unique and oldest buildings in the Lehigh Valley. Due to its rich history and architecture, the Gemeinhaus has been designated as a National Historic Landmark and is part of Historic Moravian Bethlehem’s National Historic Landmark.
Another significant site of the Putz Trail is the Single Sisters’ House which was constructed in 1744 parallel to the Gemeinhaus and was originally built for the Single Brethren’s Choir which was given to the Single Sisters’ Choir in 1748.
Visitors also experience other Moravian traditions and partake in new additions, including the Bethlehem by Night Motorcoach Tour, the Christmas Stroll Walking Tour, and the Live Advent Calendar. In addition, horsedrawn trolley rides will debut as a new feature this year. The Christmas in the Quarter will also be returning for two weekends after being added last year.
“To have festivities in Bethlehem is always great for the town especially during this time of the year,” Carlos Orellana, 23, of Bethlehem. “It’s neat to see the entire city get decorated and have Main Street attract many carolers.”
That Wassail Party at the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts is one of the first events to kick of the Christmas season in Bethlehem. It provides festive Christmas music to get visitors in the holiday spirit including light refreshments offered at the family-friendly event. For safety purposes, visitors are asked to register ahead of time.
Visitors can also see the lighting of the Trees of Historic Bethlehem, a tradition featuring more than 26 trees on display across five historic sites. The decorated trees show ornaments carefully displayed by the Bethlehem Garden Club to exemplify this year’s chosen theme, “A Cinematic Christmas.”
The trees are located at the 1810 Goundie House, Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, Luckenbach Mill, Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, and the Single Sisters’ House. A multi-site pass can be purchased for $25, while a single-site pass costs $12, and $9 for children.
The holiday season hours of operation run till the beginning of January. For any questions about the Holiday Putz Trail or hours of operation, contact the Visitor Center at 1-800-360-TOUR or Historic Bethlehem.