Every town and city or populated area has its own special identity. Many times it is defined by geography or history — a river, perhaps, or certain architecture from a specific time period. A region's character can become further defined by the arts centers, events and special activities that grow up around the area. These elements many times wash a community with a color scheme all its own. The following are some of the happenings that distinguish the Lehigh Valley from everywhere else. And they all add up to a one-of-a-kind formula for a fun place to live.
ALLENTOWN SYMPHONY HALL, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown, 610-432-6715, http://www.allentownsymphony.org
Dynamic performances in the coming year include, Empire Brass (Oct. 1 and 2, 2011); Sylvester and the Magic Pebble (Oct. 8, 2011); The Return of the Red Violin (Nov. 12 and 13, 2011); Clifford The Big Red Dog Live! (Jan. 14, 2012); Love Melodies (Feb. 11 and 12, 2012); Beethoven's 6th and Allentown's 250 (March 10 and 11, 2012), John Tartaglia's Imaginocean! (March 24, 2012); The Planets (April 14 and 15, 2012).
ALLENTOWN ART MUSEUM, 31 N. Fifth St., Allentown, 610-432-4333, http://www.allentownartmuseum.org
The museum presents exhibits from a wide range of media and time period in downtown Allentown, as well as art-related activities for families.
AMERICA ON WHEELS – AUTO MUSEUM, 5 N. Front St., Allentown, 610-432-4200, http://www.americaonwheels.org
Exhibits offer a look at the various modes of transportation that celebrate the United States' heritage of the motor vehicle.
Phase 1 of the Skateplaza is complete giving area skaters and bikers a designated area in which to perform the sport they enjoy. The Skateplaza is located between Steel and Daly avenues on approximately three miles of an old railroad bed and will provide fun for boarders as well as support for national skate and/or BMX events, celebrations and festivals.
CHRISTKINDLMARKT, Bethlehem, 610-332-1300, http://www.christmascity.org
A market that offers a unique shopping experience during the holiday season, Christkindlmarkt presents handmade items by artisans from around the country, live music and St. Nicholas (takes place during the Nov./Dec. holidays).
CIVIC THEATRE, 527 N. Nineteenth St., Allentown, 610-432-8943, http://www.civictheatre.com
The Civic Theatre provides live theatre productions featuring the region's finest talents, is Lehigh Valley's only full-time cinema exclusively showing art, independent and foreign films and the theatre school that has been nurturing a love of theatre in the Valley's youth for over 50 years.
DA VINCI SCIENCE CENTER, 3145 Hamilton Blvd. By-Pass, Allentown, 484-664-1002, http://www.davinci-center.org
The Da Vinci Center aims to inspire the exploration, understanding and appreciation of science by providing various exhibits and interactive contact.
GREATER LEHIGH VALLEY AUTO SHOW, 1275 Glenlivet Drive, Suite 100, Allentown, 610-758-9691, http://www.glvautoshow.org
An automotive extravaganza with the world's best cars, trucks, SUVs and vans shown at Stabler Arena, Rausch Field House and West Pavilion (March 22-25, 2012).
LEHIGH VALLEY IRONPIGS, Coca-Cola Park, 1050 Iron Pigs Way, Allentown, 610-841-PIGS (610-841-7447), http://www.ironpigsbaseball.com
The Lehigh Valley IronPigs is a minor league baseball club that plays home games at Coca-Cola Park. More than a baseball team, the IronPigs provide educational and recreational opportunities for Lehigh Valley Youth, financial support for nonprofits and more via their nonprofit arm, IronPigs Charities.
LEHIGH VALLEY ZOO, 5150 Game Preserve Road, P.O. Box 519, Schnecksville, 610-799-4171, http://www.lvzoo.org
The zoo, home to over 70 species of animals from all parts of the world, was founded in 1906 by Gen. Harry C. Trexler. Located on 1,100 acres — with a 25-acre Children's Zoo with informal animal petting — the zoo offers family friendly events, educational programs and camps for area youth.
LIGHTS IN THE LEHIGH PARKWAY, Lehigh Parkway, Allentown, 610-437-7530, http://www.allentownpa.gov or http://www.lightsintheparkway.com.
This incredible display will celebrate its 16th anniversary this holiday season. The drive-through light display covers more than a mile of lighted trees, light tunnels and animated displays.
LOCK RIDGE PARK AND FURNACE MUSEUM, Lehigh County Historical Society, 525 Franklin St., Alburtis, 610-435-1074, http://www.lchs.museum/HistoricSites.htm or http://www.delawareandlehigh.org/index.php/visit/
The park offers fishing, hiking and biking trails and a picnic pavilion with fireplace and rest rooms. The Furnace Museum is dedicated to the anthracite iron industry.
MAYFAIR FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS, Cedar Beach Park, Hamilton Blvd., Allentown, 610-437-6900, http://www.mayfairfestival.org
For five days in May, Mayfair transforms Allentown's scenic Cedar Beach Park into a kaleidoscope of sights, sounds and smells — dancers, storytellers, art exhibits, local and national musical acts, hands-on crafts demonstrations and culinary delights.
PENNSYLVANIA SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL: 2755 Station Ave., Center Valley (on the campus of DeSales University), 610-282-9455, http://www.pashakespeare.org
Each summer, PSF produces a season of Shakespeare and other classics, musical theatre and children's theatre. With 200+ performances of six full productions, the festival attracts up to 30,000 patrons from 20 states. PSF celebrates its 20th anniversary season in 2011.
PIP: THE MOUSE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, Liberty Bell Shrine Museum, 622 W. Hamilton St., Allentown, 610-435-4232, http://www.libertybellmuseum.org.
The show depicts the night before Christmas. Santa is stuck in the chimney! Will he get out in time to deliver all of his toys? Exhibits also include a holiday tree decorated with historic PA German ornaments, a 200-square-foot putz display with trains, historic buildings and more.
SPRING HOME SHOW AT STABLER, 1524 Linden St., Allentown, 610-432-4101, http://www.lvba.org/members/spring_home_
The home show features displays and exhibits representing builders, developers, remodelers, professionals, subcontractors and suppliers who are active members of the Lehigh Valley Builders Association (March 30, 31, April 1, 2012).
STATE THEATRE CENTER FOR THE ARTS, 453 Northampton St., Easton, 610-258-7766 or 1-800-999-7827, http://www.statetheatre.org
Set in the heart of downtown Easton, the State Theatre offers many performances throughout the year, providing varied types of entertainment from comedy (Menopause: The Musical, Sept. 24; Bill Engvall Nov. 10); ballet and plays to music. (Vince Gill, Sept. 9; A Night of Doo Wop & Rock-N-Roll, Oct. 22; Darius Rucker, Jan. 22, 2012)
STEELSTACKS ARTS & CULTURAL CAMPUS, 25 W. Third St., Bethlehem, 610-332-1300, http://www.artsquest.org/steelstacks
Enjoy live concerts and films at the ArtsQuest center, shop the weekly farmers or arts and antique markets, bring the family to a free show at the new Levitt Pavilion or dance the night away at one of many festivals taking place on the campus. Look for more than 1,200 performances annually – including 400 free shows – at this dynamic, new arts and cultural campus.
VALLEY PREFERRED CYCLING CENTER, 1151 Mosser Road, Breinigsville, 610-395-7000, http://www.thevelodrome.com
A premier cycling center that has hosted world cups, Olympic trials, Junior World Championships, national championships and major international races and continues to be the nation's most loved and successful velodrome.
ZOELLNER ARTS CENTER,420 E. Packer Ave., Bethlehem, 610-758-5323, http://www.zoelllnerartscenter.org
Offers a variety of performance events, exhibits and scholastic programs with musicians, world champion dancers and more. Also offered is a program for kids 5-15 to learn about music.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun