Well, I normally write about academic stuff or my life but I decided to make an exception for today’s topic. Every year, Bethlehem, PA hosts one of the nation’s largest free music festival, Musikfest. The term ‘musik’ shouldn’t surprise you, giving the German roots of the town! Musikfest is the focus of interest in the Lehigh Valley since 1984. It celebrated its 30th anniversary last year. This 10-day free music festival usually takes place in the first and a half weeks of August and brings lots of performances together. In multiple stages (called “platz”) you will have chance to listen good music, enjoy and discover the historic roots of the town. Before coming to Lehigh University as a Teaching Assistant, I wasn’t aware that such big events are going on in Bethlehem (also check Celtic Classic if you love festivals). Musikfest, by far the best reason to visit the town especially if you are living in or visiting The Big Apple, Philly or Harrisburg.
Here, I list 5 reasons why it is a good investment for your time:
Reason #1: It’s so close!
Driving from New York City and Harrisburg takes 1.5 hours, and from Philadelphia takes 1 hour. Major roads such as US-78 and Penn Turnpike make it easy to connect to The Valley. You may as well reach the area by bus, although it will take a little bit longer than driving. Transbridge Lines serves to NYC and Philadelphia. It’s not even that far away from other big cities in the Northeast. Here’s a list of approximate distance and time information for your reference;
|Philadelphia||72 miles||1 hour|
|New York City||81 miles||1.5 hours|
|Harrisburg||89 miles||1.5 hours|
|Baltimore||149 miles||2.5 hours|
|Washington DC||182 miles||3.5 hours|
|Boston||301 miles||5 hours|
Check the parking and directions page from here. Check Wikitravel page for more alternatives.
Reason #2: Good Musik
An amazing thing about Musikfest is the number of performances, for sure. For instance, there will be 500 free performances this year. Additionally, some known artists usually give ticketed performances. You can check the lineup. Some people say that after Sands Casino opened in Bethlehem, the number of visitors increased, which eventually affects the overall quality of the festival. So, music only gets better every year. You may surprise to hear an incredibly good voice on historical Main St., like happened to us last year. And when it comes to the genre, I believe there is something for everyone!
Reason #3: Not just a feast of musik but also noms!
To me, that’s the best part of Musikfest. You can find lots of food and drink options on the festival area. Food is really really great, although some options could be a little bit pricey. I would suggest to bring your own water. You would better to grab a Musikfest mug for beer. They bring new mugs every year, but hey, you can buy one and use it for next Musikfests. It’s also good for collection purposes. They are usually very fancy.
If you are a real gourmet, then I will further suggest you some places in Bethlehem. Emeril’s Chop House [Instagram] in Sands Casino is an amazing steakhouse that you must try. My favorite restaurant in US. Another must-try is the brunch at Historic Hotel Bethlehem on Sundays. Better to make your reservation early, since it’s too popular.
Reason #4: Historical Places
If you love historical places, you are gonna be thrilled: Moravian Book Shop and Gift Gallery is the oldest bookstore in the world, was founded in 1745. It’s on Main Street so if you come to the festival, it will be just on the street you will walk in. They are at the same place since 1871. Simply amazing. Bethlehem downtown is somehow small but consists of beautiful buildings. Sun Inn is another historical place from 1758 that you would like to visit.
On the South Side Bethlehem, you will find our lovely school, Lehigh University, where my friends from DC once said “It’s like Hogwarts!”.
Reason #5: German Roots
You know, after Germany won the World Cup everyone is looking for a connection to German roots. Well, you may find the German inside you during Musikfest as many things refer to German roots of the city. For me, it is fun to learn some German along the way. Pelin, on the other hand, has been in Germany and thinks that Bethlehem is a mixture of US and Germany. Well, you can visit Musikfest and learn it for yourself 🙂 And yes, we have also Oktoberfest!
If you still haven’t decided yet, check some old performances on Youtube, photos on Flickr and Instagram and find tweets about it. Be sure to follow Musikfest’s Twitter and brand new Instagram accounts.