By BRIAN BINGAMAN
Musikfest’s reputation as the largest free music festival in the nation continues to grow. Musikfest.org has announced that the Aug. 10 featured concert with Keith Urban has already sold out.
Held Aug. 1-10 in Bethlehem, free concerts will be on 13 of the 14 stages (most with the word “platz” attached to them). Only the mainstage shows at the Sands SteelStage and the PNC Performing Arts Series require tickets. Refunds are being issued for the canceled Aug. 1 ZZ Top concert at (610) 332-3378.
Besides the mainstage headliners, there will be more than 300 musical acts over 10 days including: quirky 20-piece “circus punk marching band” Mucca Pazza, who will be parading through Bethlehem’s north side at 5 p.m. Aug. 2, and performing at the Pennsylvania Lottery Volksplatz stage Aug. 2 and 3; country singer-songwriter Sam Hunt (contributing writer on Keith Urban’s “Cop Car” and Kenny Chesney’s “Come Over”) Aug. 3 on the Aetna Americaplatz stage; and Postmodern Jukebox takes songs by Lady Gaga, Carly Rae Jepsen and Lorde and reimagines them as vintage jazz, swing and doo-wop Aug. 9 at Americaplatz. Plan ahead by checking www.musikfest.org/lineup.
There are two places you can park free and catch a bus to the main festival area; both accessible from Route 378 — the Martin Tower lot at 1170 Eighth Ave. and the iQuor lot in the Lehigh Valley Industrial Park at Roue 412 and Lynn Avenue. Shuttle cost is $4, $2 for children 6-12. That includes same-day access to the North-South shuttle, which takes you to and from Shuttleplatz at the main festival area to the stages on the ArtsQuest at SteelStacks campus.
Eating and drinking
Musikfest is almost as famous for its food as its music. Food and beverages are available throughout the grounds and are sold using a ticket system. Ticket booths are at every one of the platzes.
You’ll notice a lot of people carrying plastic Musikfest souvenir beer mugs. They’re a sound investment because you end up saving money on beer refills, and you can bring that mug with you to Musikfest and reuse it each year to keep your beverages cold in the hot summer sun.
This year, anyone who buys a Musikfest mug or encounters the Musikfest Street Team will get a free coupon book to Bethlehem’s Restaurant Row.
There’s nine new food vendors this year: Roasty Toasty and Carolina Barbecue, both at Red Stag Pub Liederplatz; Strawberry Street Concessions, Grateful Spread, Bee’s Knees, Felix’s Tacos and Sangtawan Thai Food, all at Volksplatz; and Delicious Bites on the Go at Handwerkplatz presented by Air Products; and Rodale Catering at Americaplatz at Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks.
Also, sample wines from 12 Italian vineyards from 5 to 10 p.m. each day on First Street at SteelStacks.
What’s not allowed
Prohibited are: outside food or beverages; coolers and pitchers; removing alcoholic beverages from the site; pets (except personal assistance dogs); bikes; skateboards; roller blades; laser pointers; unauthorized soliciting; weapons of any kind; reserved chairs or tables (except at ticketed venues and those reserved by ArtsQuest); smoking in any tented areas, indoor venues or Sands SteelStage seating sections; climbing on any scaffold towers or stages; swimming or wading in the creek, canal or river; defacing property within the Musikfest grounds (this will result in prosecution); unauthorized audio/video recording. Note that shoes and shirts must be worn on the festival grounds.
Wear sturdy and comfortable shoes — you will do a lot of walking. Check the weather forecast before you go and plan accordingly (including applying sunscreen). If you’re bringing a digital camera, have fresh backup batteries on hand. Have cash because there will be a few activities that won’t accept your food/beverage tickets as currency. Besides the website, you can stay up to date at www.facebook.com/musikfest and on Twitter @Musikfest. ArtsQuest, the nonprofit arts organization that presents the festival, has a YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/ArtsQuestBethlehem. On Pinterest search for “artsquest.” For questions and more information, call (610) 332-1300.
There’s other performing arts at Musikfest too. The Netherlands’ Close Act Theatre is bringing 18-foot-tall artistic dinosaurs with “Saurus” at 6 and 8 p.m. Aug. 8-10, in the area between Festplatz and Plaza Tropical. Polynesian Dance Productions is featured at 5, 6:30 and 8 p.m. Aug. 1-5 at Handwerkplatz. Tickets are $5 for Storytime Comedy Hour with ManDudeBro and Friends, an improv nightcap at 11:15 p.m. Aug. 7 in the Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas at the ArtsQuest Center.
Musikfest’s family venue is back to its original name, Kinderplatz (“children’s place” in German), and has two new rides, plus special appearances and activities by the Philadelphia Union, Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania and more.
Aug. 8-9 at SteelStacks, there’ll be a British invasion as Mini owners from across the country pull into Musikfest as part of a cross-country road rally, “Mini Takes the States.”
Space Shuttle Blake is a 4/10-scale replica of a NASA space shuttle on the outside, and a state-of-the-art classroom inside. Look for it at Fly LVIA Plaza Tropical.
Musikfest’s craft zone, Handwerkplatz, will be yarn bombed — meaning covered with knitted and crocheted pieces — over 10 days. After the conclusion of Musikfest, the pieces will be sewn together into afghans and donated to a local charity.
Children 6-10 can say they performed at Musikfest with a “Music Camp at Musikfest” led by Daria Marmaluk-Hijioannou. Cost is $90 ($81 for ArtsQuest members) and runs noon to 3:30 p.m. Aug. 2 at SteelStacks. After making their own musical instruments, at the end of the camp, the kids will take to the TD Bank Community Stage on the Air Products Town Square at SteelStacks for a live performance. You have to register at www.bananafactory.org or by calling (610) 332-1300.
Got a great Musikfest story? “Share Your Musikfest Story” at the ArtsQuest Member Booth at Wells Fargo Festplatz by recording video clips. Stories can also be shared online prior to the festival at www.musikfest.org/stories. ArtsQuest will be using the stories as a way to document some of the history of the festival and shared online via social media.