in Lehigh Valley, PA
'Fest On! August 6–15, 2021 • Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
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Each summer, Bethlehem comes alive as the tradition of Musikfest returns to the city. After a hybrid virtual 2020 Musikfest, Musikfest is back and in-person for 2021! The festival kicks off on the first Friday of August and continues for 10 consecutive days packed with music, food, and plenty of fun for all ages. Your first time attending the ‘Fest can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. We’ve compiled some tips for a happy Musikfest experience, including must-see artists, eats, guides to parking, and even where to take a potty break.
Ready to start planning your visit? Jump to sections below to learn more about Musikfest:
Named twice the No. 1 Music Festival in North America by the USA Today/10Best readers’ poll, Musikfest features hundreds of performances on stages (referred to as ‘platzes’ to pay homage to the city’s Germanic heritage) throughout Bethlehem over 10 days. This year's festival runs August 6–15, 2021, with a special preview night starring Darius Rucker on Thursday, August 5, 2021.
The festival is spread throughout the city of Bethlehem, on the north side covering the Historic Moravian District and on the SouthSide at the SteelStacks in the SouthSide Arts District. It's easy to get overwhelmed when looking at all that's going on, but you'll find fun tucked around every corner. We recommend that first-timers to Musikfest spend some time getting lost as you wander through the festival grounds. Don't miss award-winning food vendors, local craft vendors, artists at work, and hands-on art activations that are spread throughout the festival.
North Side (Historic Moravian District) Hours: August 6, 5 – 11 p.m.; August 7-15, noon – 11 p.m.
SteelStacks in the SouthSide Arts District: Weekdays, 4 – 11 p.m.; Fridays, 4 p.m. – 1 a.m.; Saturdays, 12 p.m. – 1 a.m.; Sundays, 12 p.m. – 11 p.m.
While the majority of the performances are free, you will find one ticketed, headlining show during each night of the ‘Fest showcased on the Wind Creek Steel Stage (located at SteelStacks).
Wind Creek Steel Stage Headliners:
- Thursday, August 5: Darius Rucker (Special preview night; Tickets for the show originally scheduled for 2020 will be honored)
- Friday, August 6: Phillip Phillips
- Saturday, August 7: Preservation Hall Jazz Band (pictured above)
- Sunday, August 8: Sam Hunt
- Monday, August 9: Shinedown (*previously purchased tickets will be honored)
- Tuesday, August 10: Jimmie Allen
- Wednesday, August 11: Colin Hay Band
- Thursday, August 12: KT Tunstall
- Friday, August 13: Zedd
- Saturday, August 14: The Wood Brothers
- Sunday, August 15: Black Violin
Headliner Show Tickets
Headliners rescheduled to 2022: Willie Nelson, Poison, and Kelsea Ballerini. Dates to be announced shortly. All tickets previously purchased will be honored for the new dates. ArtsQuest will notify all ticket holders with details.
Free Music Performances
But don’t discount the free performances—more than 300 free performances! Across the festival's Bethlehem footprint, visitors will find stages brimming with local artists, plus nationally-recognized acts including Igor and the Red Elvises, Jimmy and the Parrots, Philadelphia Funk Authority, The Sofa Kings, Seth Witcher, Sunny War, We Banjo 3 and many more.
You're sure to get in your 10,000 steps exploring all the "Platz" at Musikfest! We recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes as the footprint of the festival is quite large and does include travel on both paved and gravel paths with some incline. August days in Pennsylvania can be toasty, so be sure to stay hydrated as you're exploring!
When nature calls, you’ll find plenty of facilities available for use. On the South Side, take advantage of indoor bathrooms at the Visitors Center, as well as within the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks. On the North Side, consider using the bathrooms near Volksplatz in the Colonial Industrial Quarter for some slightly less trafficked resources.
Be sure to pick up an iconic Musikfest Mug to keep your beverage of choice nice and cold - plus, you’ll help the crews cut down on waste. Mugs are reusable year to year, but it’s never too early to start your collection! Fill your mug at stations throughout the festival. Plenty of non-alcoholic beverages are available for purchase throughout the festival grounds.
Purchase the commemorative 2021 Mug (and other Musikfest merchandise) online or at 523 Main St. in Bethlehem.
The Food Situation
We're here for the food, too. With all the walking and dancing that comes along with enjoying Musikfest, you’re sure to have worked up an appetite. Luckily, there are endless amounts of food and beverage options to savor. Rather than taking cash directly, food and beverage vendors accept Musikfest tickets that can be purchased by cash or card throughout the festival grounds.
At Musikfest, you’ll find everything from your traditional fair favorites (deep-fried Oreos, anyone?) to more unique eats, including the festival’s first all-vegan vendor. Classic choices include bratwurst, halupkies, Aw Shucks roasted corn, Take a Taco, Island Noodles, Kabobs, and ice cream from the Bethlehem Dairy Store.
Each year, Musikfest also introduces new food vendors to the list of classics, giving you even more options when hunger strikes.
Art & More
Music isn’t the only form of entertainment you’ll find. Throughout the festival, be sure to stop and see various street performers delighting crowds young & old. You can also enjoy — or even take part! — in a number of hands-on art activities including glassblowing, yarn bombing, the sculpture garden, and more. There are plenty of kid-friendly activities on site as well. Browse the wares of local craft vendors, admire artists at work, and explore the hands-on art activations that are spread throughout the festival.
Musikfest 2021 Poster
Painted by Sellersville-based fine artist, Mandy Martin, this year's poster is based on the symbol of rebirth that poppies came to be in the wake of World War I. It was conceptualized prior to the COVID pandemic but took on new meaning as Martin worked on the piece in quarantine.
“The Musikfest poster conveys a sense of hope and light. Brilliant red poppies rise from the Bethlehem landscape, while daisies spin magical music notes into the air,” said Martin, a member of ArtsQuest’s Banana Factory Artist Collective. “We have all been through a lot in the past year, and poppies remind us that new growth often arises after times of hardship. I wanted the viewer to anticipate a time of renewal and joy as we come together for the festival this year.”
Martin, whose work has also been exhibited at the New Hope Art Center in New Hope, PA and the Annmarie Arts Center in Solomon, MD, admitted to going through a period of growth and rebirth herself as she watched the painting darken with her own thoughts and feelings as the pandemic progressed. She had to remind herself that hope still lives, and must be depicted through light in her artwork.
Martin’s work can be seen at her website; she hopes, through her art, to “inspire viewers to look more carefully at the world around them, to discover beauty in unexpected places, and to take care of the Earth.”