With Christmas now a scant three weeks away, there will be no shortage of special holiday activities to enjoy in Bethlehem this weekend.
One of Bethlehem’s newer beloved holiday traditions comes from the Touchstone Theatre.
The Christmas City Follies— the high-spirited, vaudevillian variety show that draws inspiration from Bethlehem, a.k.a. “The Christmas City”—opened Thursday for its 14th seasonal run.
Follies escapades this year include favorite characters like Touchstone Founder Bill George’s “The Old Guy” making his way back from a very special Christmas trip; Ensemble Associate Mary Wright’s “Little Red” trying to deal with a hectic Christmas pageant; and the “Pajama Sisters” working hard to look and sound fabulous in onesie pajamas. The show also features Broadway musical numbers re-written with seasonally-themed lyrics, re-orchestrated Christmas Carols, new character comedy, and a fresh take on audience favorite “The Shopping Cart Ballet”.
An addition this year is a pre- and post-show reception on Friday and Saturday evenings. Holiday-themed drinks and desserts are available for a fee beginning at 7 p.m. in the Touchstone café.
The holiday atmosphere is complimented by live musical performances by local musicians. Then the reception continues again after the show with opportunities for audience members to mingle with Follies cast members.
Christmas City Follies XIV plays to Dec. 22, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. On Saturday, Dec. 21, there will be a special matinee show at 2 p.m. in addition to the regularly scheduled 8 p.m. show.
Tickets are $25 and $15 for students and seniors. On Thursdays, Touchstone offers pay-what-you-will at the door, allowing patrons to name their own ticket price. Advance tickets may be purchased at 610-867-1689 or online at www.touchstone.org.
Also happening this weekend:
- Christkindlmarkt resumes for its third seasonal weekend at SteelStacks on Thursday, featuring aisles of handmade works by the nation’s finest artisans; traditional and contemporary holiday music; and a variety of food from vendors offering bratwursts, strudel, German roasted almonds, barbeque and more. Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem hours are Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Advance tickets for Christkindlmarkt are $8 for ages 13 and older, $4 for ages 6-12, and admission is free for ages 5 and under. ArtsQuest members are also admitted free.
- Meanwhile, in the Historic North Side Downtown, another traditional German-style holiday market, Christmas City Village, will reopen Friday for its second weekend in the Sun Inn Courtyard and spaces near the Historic Hotel Bethlehem and the Central Moravian Church. The wooden market huts are filled with unique Christmas gift ideas. As you shop, enjoy bratwurst with sauerkraut and warm up with a hot beverage including the popular hot mulled wine from Germany called Gluhwein. The market is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
- The Bethlehem Live Advent Calendar unveils a live Christmas treat from the front door of the 1810 Goundie House at 505 Main St. at 5:30 p.m. sharp every day through Dec. 23. In years past, those treats have included special performances, holiday sweets and other gifts.
- The Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites will continue to offer its seasonal holiday tours, which include the Christmas City Stroll, Scenic Horsedrawn Carriage Rides, the Bethlehem by Night Bus Tour and the holiday version of the Rise & Fall of Bethlehem Steel. For more information on tour times or to purchase tickets, contact the Historic Bethlehem Visitor Center at 505 Main St., call 1-800-360-TOUR or view this website: www.historicbethlehem.org.
- The award-winning Lehigh Valley Sweet Adelines Chorus will present its Holiday Harmony concert this year with a special host, “Miss Manners,” at the Ss. Simon and Jude Church, 730 W. Broad St. at 2 p.m. Saturday. Let the LVC singers entertain you with an engaging repertoire of holiday favorites and old standards while Miss Manners offers some sage advice to address your various holiday challenges. In addition to providing warm music, holiday cheer and nerve-calming advice, this event will also feature a fabulous holiday boutique and a proper refreshment table. Tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance (610-730-3434). Adults: $10; seniors and students: $8; children under 12: free.
- Local musical favorite Zen For Primates has their annual Holiday Extravaganza show at Godfrey Daniels at 8 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $20.50 in advance and $24.50 the day of the show.
- From Bach’s magical harmonies in O Jesulein süss (Child Jesus, so sweet) to Mack Wilberg’s exuberant setting of Ding Dong Merrily on High, the singers of The Bach Choir of Bethlehem have helped pick the carols they most love to sing for this year’s holiday concerts at the First Presbyterian Church of Allentown, 3231 W. Tilghman St., at 8 p.m. Saturday and the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, 2444 Center St. at 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets for the Allentown show are $35 and $9 for students. Tickets for the Bethlehem show are $40, $30 and $9 for students.
Other events of note in Bethlehem this weekend:
- Few husband-wife musical duos provide audiences with the complete entertainment package that Stacey Earle & Mark Stuart dish out in a live performance. Armed with clever acoustic guitar interplay, autobiographical songwriting, lovely harmonies, and humorous storytelling this couple captivates your attention from the first moment they are onstage. They visit Godfrey Daniels at 8 p.m. Friday. Admission is $17.50.
- The Lehigh University Philharmonic promises a family-friendly program featuring The Emperor and the Nightingale, a piece based on the children’s story by Hans Christian Andersen, and Ottorino Respighi’s The Pines of Rome. The concert will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday in Zoellner Arts Center’s Baker Hall and repeated Saturday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $18.
- The Pink Floyd Laser Spectacular descends on the Sands Bethlehem Event Center at 8 p.m. Friday. The show has become a cult classic in its 25 years of touring, combining colorful lasers and lighting effects with the music of perhaps the greatest art rock band of all time. This year’s show celebrates the 40th anniversary of “Dark Side of the Moon.” The show also features the cult classic synchronization of “Dark Side” with the “Wizard of Oz,” typically called “Dark Side of The Rainbow.” Tickets are from $11.50 to $26.50.
- Children and their parents are the game pieces on the Rainbow Trail past familiar landmarks from everyone’s favorite Candy Land game on Saturday at the Bethlehem Area Public Library. Peppermint Forest, Gingerbread Junction, Gumdrop Mountain, Caramel Crossing, and Snowflake Lake have been recreated in this life-sized version of the popular childhood game. Families will collect candy and create art along the way. Afterwards, Santa will visit with the children. Open to the public. All ages. No registration. Drop in anytime between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for children and $3 for adults. Parking is available in the garage on Saturday.
- The Price Is Right Live!, the hit touring live interactive game show comes to the Sands Bethlehem Event Center at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The stage show gives contestants pulled right from the audience the chance to "Come On Down" to win appliances, vacations and even new cars by playing classic games from television's longest running and most popular game show. From Plinko to Cliffhangers to the Big Wheel, and even the fabulous Showcase, all the favorite games are played just like the TV show. Tickets are $45.
- For nearly twenty years Justin Solonynka has performed his virtuosic piano blend of folk, rock, and jazz for audiences throughout the greater Philadelphia area. He comes to Godfrey Daniels at 7 p.m. Sunday in support of his latest record, A Cup of Kindness. Your paid admission of $15.50 will come with a complementary copy to take home.