Christkindlmarkt kicks off to a balmy - and record - start, ArtsQuest says
BETHLEHEM, Pa. — The 2023 Christkindlmarkt season kicked off with a balmy start at SteelStacks and set records in the process, according to ArtsQuest.
The weather may have been 64 degrees Friday and a little chillier over the weekend, but Mother Nature didn't stop anyone from attending a beloved Lehigh Valley holiday tradition.
ArtsQuest on Monday said 13,000 people visited Christkindlmarkt over the weekend, which is a 34% increase (or over 3,000 more) than 2022.
Total attendance for Friday's opening day was just shy of 4,000 (3,900 shoppers) which is a record for any opening day of Christkindlmarkt in 31 years, ArtsQuest said, adding 1,600 people visited between 5 and 8 p.m. for the first free Friday for the holiday season.
The cheery, festive atmosphere showcased food stands, an ice carving demonstration, craft vendors and thousands of twinkling lights.
This marks the third year of Christkindlmarkt hosting Free Admission Fridays from 5-8 p.m., said Emily Kocis, senior manager of operations and technology at ArtsQuest.
"We realized last year that doing 6-8 p.m. wasn’t enough. We decided to extend the hours and make them 5-8 p.m.," said Kocis.
Admission prices this year are $12 on Thursday & Friday and $15 on Saturday & Sunday at the door. Children under 5 can enter for free.
Alongside Christkindlmarkt is the Ice Rink at SteelStacks, a delight for all ages who have a willingness to brave the ice.
Kocis mentioned that the ice rink this year is "30 feet longer than last year’s."
"We’re also extending [the ice rink's] operating days into the New Year," added Kocis.
A long-standing tradition in the Lehigh Valley, Christkindlmarkt typically attracts over 150 food and craft vendors. It will be open Thursday-Sunday from now until Dec. 17.
The Ice Rink at SteelStacks opens Tuesday, Nov. 21, and will be open daily through Jan. 15. Some skaters gave it a test run Sunday.