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Main Street Bethlehem: Christmas Comes Alive in Burnet

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Main Street Bethlehem transports you back in time in an immersive experience. Every December, a little square in downtown Burnet, Texas, is transformed to recreate a scene from 2000 years ago: the streets of the little town of Bethlehem in Israel.  26 years ago, Norman Leftwich dreamed of sharing Christmas in its true spirit with the surrounding communities, and Main Street Bethlehem was born.  Norman, now 92 years old, is still involved every year, and the results are an amazing experience you’re unlikely to forget.

The First Baptist Church of Burnet spares few details of what Bethlehem would have looked like that first Christmas eve.  Visitors are invited to stroll past the city gates and become immersed in the sights and sounds of that first night.  First Baptist Church of Burnet’s website describes the experience like this:

Main Street Bethlehem: Christmas Comes Alive in Burnet

Photo: Facebook/Main Street Bethlehem

“Feel the anticipation of Joseph and Mary approaching the gates, urgency quickening their steps… Experience the presence of animals as they affect all aspects of life in that time; camels, donkeys, sheep, goats, chickens, and doves… Search for the inn… Then follow the trail to the cave where a road-weary couple has moved in with the animals, their place in God’s plan and secular history to be made secure on this night.”

Authentic in its purpose, Main Street Bethlehem transports you back in time in an immersive experience. You enter their world, surrounded by people in period costume who remain in character as you walk through their streets like wayfarers from another time. You smell the campfires, taste the bread, and hear the pronunciation from the shepherds.  The din of the busy village is all around you. As you turn the last corner, the “no vacancy” sign at David’s Inn reminds you that you too must exit the city gate to find the stable.  The reality of the first night becomes clear. It brings meaning to songs you have sung since childhood.  It brings meaning to the season ahead.

Main Street Bethlehem: Christmas Comes Alive in Burnet

Photo: Facebook/Main Street Bethlehem

Main Street Bethlehem is only open for two weekends in December, beginning the first Friday in December. This year, the dates are December 7-9 and 14-16.  Gates open at 6 p.m. Lines start to form at least an hour before it opens and usually wrap around the city block. Plan on at least an hour inside the gates to see everything. Know this: there are no light displays, no fake snow, no inflatable characters or kitschy carnival-like atmosphere.  It’s much better than that and something you will remember all your life.

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