Saturday, August 1, 2009

Musikfest 2009

Like birds flying south when they sense the winter chill or sea turtles migrating dozens of miles to lay their eggs, there's something strange that happens in Bethlehem every July. It starts with the presence of parking signs in lots throughout the town. Then, magically, white tents appear under the Hill to Hill bridge and along Church and Main Streets. The energy in the town shifts and the locals begin to trade stories about the musical acts they're going to catch. And then, when the first week of August finally arrives, so do a million people from around the world. That's right, it's that time of year...Musikfest is here! 

For those of you who don't know, Musikfest is a 10-day music festival in Bethlehem, PA that attracts over 1 million people from around the globe. It wasn't always such a sensation though. Started in 1984, the first crowd topped out at just over 180,000 people. But over the years, Musikfest's popularity has grown by leaps and bounds. If you've never experienced the phenomenon that is Musikfest, this is your year. 

Here are some insider tips to help you enjoy your first Fest:
  1. There are both free and pay-to-see musical acts playing on 14 different stages (11 of which are free!) There really is something for everyone since every music style imaginable is represented, from Polka to Third Eye Blind. To check out this year's lineup, visit
  2. Musikfest is hip to social media. They've got a Twitter feed, a Facebook fan page and a MySpace page, all of which give you real-time updates on special events and any concert tickets remaining. 
  3. Musikfest pays homage to Bethlehem's Germanic  heritage, so all of the venues have a "platz" at the end of their names, which means "place." For example, Americaplatz, Martin Guitar Lyrikplatz, etc.
  4. Parking can be a beast and the Bethlehem Parking Authority preys on violators. Your best bet is to take advantage of Shuttleplatz, which allows you to park at one of the official off-site lots and take a trolley in. Round trip fare is $4/person, which is much cheaper than the $30+ you'll pay if you get a ticket. For more info on parking lots and Shuttleplatz, visit
  5. Don't try to approach a food vendor with cash, you need tickets for everything. Ticket booths are located throughout the festival. I recommend scoping out what you want to purchase first or else you'll have no idea how many tickets to buy and you'll end up throwing away perfectly good tickets. 
  6. The last night of Musikfest (Sunday, Aug. 9) is always celebrated with a fantastic fireworks display. It's definitely one of the highlights of the festival, however it's the worst night for parking, so do yourself a favor and leave extra time to shuttle in. The best views are from the library and the bridge. One of the most popular spots, is on the grassy knoll beneath the library. Just keep one thing in mind: people start putting out their blankets and chairs that morning. Don't show up a half hour before the show and expect to find a good spot there.
Musikfest 2009 started yesterday and will be in full swing through Sunday, August 9th. For more information, visit Hope to see you there!


Scott said...

This is great information. Sounds like a lot of fun...and this will help with my planning.