Normally I have a new blog entry every Monday morning, but it's a day early this year because of Christmas falling on a Sunday and because this week's entry is all about Christmas!
I first visited Bethlehem AD in December 2001 and returned for my fourth time in December 2016. I would have returned two Decembers ago when I got my first DSLR, the Canon 70D, but had gotten busy and sick during that time period. I was really excited to return this year. It was just as wonderful an experience this year as it was in years past. If I can, I'd like to visit it annually. The event goes on regardless of the weather, rain or shine, frozen ground or windy day.
I'll let the photos below mostly speak for themselves.
One of the more unique attractions of Bethlehem AD are the animals: lambs, chickens, donkeys, an alpaca, and yes, camels!
One of the camels actually tried to lick my camera lens while I was trying to take a picture!
Bethlehem AD is organized by Tapestry Church in Redwood City, CA. When you line up outside, the first sight you're greeted by are dancing angels on the roof.
And you see Roman soldiers patrolling the streets and the inside of the venue itself.
Below are the Magi, or according to tradition, the three wise men. These dignitaries are actually the Redwood City Police Chief, Redwood City Mayor, and other members of the city council.
Real pottery is actually being made here by a real potter.
And my favorite shot of the night! It think what makes this photo so special isn't just the subject, but the background interest as well. Everything about the photo exudes a sense of place.
The centerpiece of Bethlehem AD is, of course, the manger. It's such a powerful sight to see, especially with the angels dancing over it and the magi bearing gifts to the Baby Jesus.
These angels dance over the manger (and on the roof of the church across the street) for three and a half hours, regardless of the weather.
And that's a real baby in the manger!
Once you're done visiting the Bethlehem venue, across the street at the church there's more. Inside the church itself is a choir singing carols.
If you don't actually want to be outside at the Bethlehem venue, you can actually watch the angels and the manger via live video feed inside the church.
And in the adjoining fellowship hall, you find a band belting out Christmas tunes, plus some homemade donuts, coffee, or hot apple cider. You can easily spend two hours here, at the Bethlehem venue and in the church itself.
Bethlehem AD is free, though I'd recommend leaving a donation either at the venue or where the food is served. Check out the Bethlehem AD website for more pictures and video, and also for the dates for next year.
To view more of my pictures from Bethlehem AD, check out my Flickr Album.
Gear used: Canon 70D with 70-200mm f/28 lens and Fuji X-T1 with 16-55mm f/2.8 lens, plus the Nissin i40 flash with flash sync cable connected to the X-T1.