Austin families can step back in time this Christmas season to walk along the narrow, bustling streets of ancient Bethlehem, without ever leaving the Texas Hill Country. Returning for its 25th year, Main Street Bethlehem is an outdoor production that will immerse visitors to Burnet in small town Bethlehem life, as it was at the time of Jesus’ birth. Travelers from near and far are invited to attend this free event, presented by First Baptist Church Burnet, on the first two weekends of December: December 1, 2, 3 and December 8, 9, 10 from 6 to 9 p.m. each evening.
Main Street Bethlehem is a unique, interactive experience. It is not a scripted play, but each of the costumed characters involved has a role. There are merchants, transients, craftsmen, bakers, shoppers, and grouchy Roman soldiers hauling ruffians off to jail. They carry on lively improvised conversations with each other, and welcome guests to join in as well. The actors remain in character, are knowledgeable about their trades, and are receptive to questions.
Live animals, torches and campfires add to the ambience of the small town, which consists of permanent multi-level stone structures built primarily using first century architecture. Guests are welcome to meander through the streets at their own pace, entering buildings and even visiting the jail. It is enjoyable to linger and watch as skilled craftsmen make pottery, horseshoes, and baskets, or work with leather, wood, and dyes. Young visitors will delight in seeing donkeys and camels, tasting Bethlehem Bread, and hearing a rabbi singing prayers in the synagogue. Past the busy marketplace and the overcrowded inn, visitors can follow a trail to a large cave. It is there, in a quiet corner of town, that Joseph and Mary can be found, resting with their newborn babe.
Admission to Main Street Bethlehem is free and open to the public. Guests will also receive complimentary hot chocolate, coffee, and cookies at the exit. Donations are accepted.
What to know before you go:
- Friday nights have the shortest wait time to enter the city, followed by Sunday nights. Saturday lines are the longest because of the many tour buses that visit.
- Arrive well before 6 p.m. (being in line by 5 p.m. is best). People come from far and wide for this presentation, and the combined total attendance over six nights may surpass 30,000 visitors. You don’t want to get stuck waiting in line with them.
- Parking is free. The line forms at the entrance to the compound, located two blocks east of Burnet’s town square.
- 90% of the city is wheelchair accessible, but electric chairs are not recommended due to the terrain and crowds.
- No pets are allowed inside the gates.
- Backpacks are not allowed inside the gates.
- In the event of rain, the presentation will be canceled. Please check the website for weather cancelations and updates.
Main Street Bethlehem
300 E Washington St.
Burnet TX 78611