Musikfest: What’s New this Summer

Musikfest: What’s New this Summer

Locals know it and love it. Others come from far and wide to enjoy Lehigh Valley’s 10-day summer music festival year after year. From live performances and popular headliners to mouthwatering food and a variety of flavorful beverages, Musikfest continues to delight guests of all ages. This year it comes with some special new additions to the programming, including a whole new platz, new food vendors, and more. Mark your calendars for August 7 through 16.

What’s New?

“At Musikfest, we really focus on showcasing the world of music, with everything from rock and reggae to Bach and bluegrass,” says Mark Demko, senior director of communications at ArtsQuest. “Each year we offer more than 500 performances by 300 artists from across the country and around the globe. This year, the Historic Hotel Bethlehem is partnering with us to offer free music every day at the new ‘Hotel Bethlehem Platz,’ located right outside
the hotel.”

Musikfest3The Hotel Bethlehem Platz is the first brand-new, official Musikfest performance space since SteelStacks was introduced in 2011. The addition of this new platz brings the total number of music stages and venues to 16 – the most ever in Musikfest’s 32-year legacy. The Hotel Bethlehem Platz will feature acts like 1920s hot jazz / dance orchestra Blackbird Society Orchestra (August 9), jazz-swing group Hot Bijouxx (August 10), and gypsy jazz act Hot Club of Philadelphia (August 15).

“This year we’re also kicking off the festival a day early on August 6 (official festival dates are August 7-16), with a special preview night featuring GRAMMY winners Duran Duran, who are returning to Musikfest for the first time in 15 years,” Demko says. “The preview night, which will take place at SteelStacks, will also include free, live music on SteelStacks’ two outdoor stages, plus all the SouthSide food vendors will be open.”

Watch for two new artist in residence troupes this year as well. Australia’s Polyglot Theatre will present interactive family performances of “Ants,” featuring life-sized “ants” meandering through the grounds. Children are encouraged to approach them to discover what they are doing and to see how they can help. For more information, see

Another new act includes nightly performances by Headphone Disco, with two DJs inviting guests to don wireless two-channel headphones so they can dance the night away to electronic dance music or rock ‘n’ roll. Headphone Disco has appeared at numerous events like Digital Dreams in Canada and Firefly Festival in Delaware and is expected to be a hit with guests at Musikfest this year. For more information, check out

The Hotel Bethlehem Platz is the first brand-new, official Musikfest performance space since SteelStacks was introduced in 2011.

Musikfest1Must-See Acts

“This year’s lineup is among our most diverse ever, with GRAMMY winners like the Flaming Lips and Culture Club, to 13-time Academy of Country Music Award winner Reba McEntire and Snoop Dogg, who presented a Keynote Conversation at SXSW this year,” Demko shares.

“One of the great things about Musikfest is the opportunity to discover new artists each year. We often hear from fans that they saw or heard a new band at Musikfest and it’s become one of their favorites. That what it’s really all about – great people coming together to enjoy great music!”

Returning to the fest’s stages this year are fan favorites, The Amish Outlaws (August 8 at Wells Fargo Festplatz), Talking Heads tribute Start Making Sense (August 11 at FLYVIA Plaza Tropical), The Fabulous Greaseband (August 13 at Festplatz) and Igor and the Red Elvises (August 13 and 14).

Fresh Food Options & Old Favorites

The seemingly endless food and beverage options at Musikfest are definitely part of the draw for many of the festival’s attendees and supporters. This year’s fest features more than 60 different food stands peppered across the festival grounds, including old favorites and new additions.

Keep your eyes peeled and follow your nose to the newest vendors to join the festival’s food lineup this year:

Cal’s Concessions – Satisfy your urge to snack with Buffalo chicken cheese balls, bacon cheeseburger balls, pulled pork balls, Nutella balls, caramel balls, and more!

Chick’n Cone – Imagine the delight of crispy fried popcorn chicken piled high in a waffle cone with savory sauces. Check out the Chick’n Cone and sweet potato fries here!

Crabby Clams Shrimp Co. – No summer fest is complete without a tasty selection of seafood. Enjoy steamed clams, crab cakes, steamed shrimp and crab fries.

Musikfest4Strolling through Musikfest

The footprint of Musikfest sprawls across roughly one square mile of the City of Bethlehem, boasting stages in the area’s parks, plaza, churches and other locations. Guests visiting Musikfest seem to enjoy strolling through the grounds and experiencing all the festival has to offer, from tasty treats and food to street performers, family friendly activities, and of course, a diverse range of free music, often bringing the sounds of new artists to life along the way.

Musikfest2“Ten of our venues are located in Bethlehem’s historic district and the other six are on the SteelStacks arts and cultural campus, which offers the awesome view of the former Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces and the city’s new Hoover Mason Trestle, an elevated walkway built on the Steel’s old railway line that ran through the plant,” Demko says. “The trestle, a really unique redevelopment project undertaken by the Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority, will provide guests with an amazing, up-close look at the furnaces, as well as old railroad cars and more. This is an exciting, new development that will attract people to SteelStacks, not only during Musikfest, but throughout the year.”

If you’re planning to attend Musikfest this year, be sure to check out the Muskifest app, available for Apple and Android devices. With the app, ‘fest-goers’ can stay apprised of Musikfest happenings up to the minute, with a focus on performances, food vendors, and simply getting around the festival grounds.

“Many people enjoy Musikfest for its wide range of music, but it’s also the largest free music festival in the nation,” says Demko. “From August 7-16, patrons can enjoy more than 500 free performances including acts like Kristian Bush of Sugarland, Cracker, Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials, and more. Thanks to the support of the City of Bethlehem, more than 150 corporate partners, 2,000 volunteers, and over 2,100 supporting members, we’re able to continue to offer a diverse array of free music every summer. We simply could not do it without the community’s support.”

For more info on Musikfest, visit



Photos Courtesy of ArtsQuest

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