Musikfest is back for its 39th year.
The annual 10.5-day extravaganza bills itself as the largest free music festival in the country and can draw over a million people to our small town of Bethlehem (population: 76,000). There are hundreds of performances scheduled, almost all free.
The only ones that require tickets are the nightly Musikfest headliners. The lineup includes Counting Crows, Ziggy Marley, Willie Nelson and Kelsea Ballerini.
Here’s a quick guide to everything you need to know to Music Festival 2022 — from parking to platforms and everything in between.
Musikfest this year is from Friday August 5th to Sunday August 14th, with a preview party on Thursday August 4th.
Opening ceremonies are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on August 5 at Festplatz.
The Musikfest fireworks are scheduled for 10 p.m. on August 14.
Musikfest times vary by location. The north side is open from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on August 5 and from noon to 11 p.m. the rest of the festival. The exceptions are Stadtplatz (open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily) and Zinzenplatz and Liederplatz (open from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily).
Hours of operation on the south side are generally 4 p.m. to midnight, except on weekends. It is open from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Fridays, from noon to 1 a.m. on Saturdays, from noon to midnight on the first Sunday and from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on the second Sunday.
Every night, Musikfest headliners perform at the Wind Creek Steel Stage on Southside, near the SteelStacks, 101 Founders Way. These shows are chargeable. tickets.
Here is the main Musikfest program for 2022, with general ticket prices:
- Thursday, August 4: Boyz II Man ($29 – $69)
- Friday August 5: Kip Moore ($25 – $59)
- Saturday August 6: willie nelson & Family ($39 – $89)
- Sunday August 7: Poison ($39 – $79)
- Monday August 8: count crows ($29 – $79)
- Tuesday, August 9: Ziggy Marley – A live tribute to his father ($21 – $60)
- Wednesday August 10: Disturbed ($45 – $89)
- Thursday August 11: Kelsea Ballerini ($29 – $89)
- Friday August 12: Rule Ja & Ashanti ($20 – $49)
- Saturday August 13: Alabama ($35 – $109)
- Sunday August 14: Olga Tanon ($25 – $55)
But with over 500 free performances planned for Musikfest 2022, there are plenty of free performances too. Some popular shows, based on first tastes on the Musikfest app, include Amish Outlaws, Aardvarks, Rubix Kube, Philadelphia Funk Authority and wonton soups.
In addition to music, there are arts activities, street performers, comedy shows, historical offerings and interactive exhibits. An “Inclusion Zone” on Southside provides a supportive space for children and adults with sensory processing difficulties.
AFTER: Do you think Musikfest lacks stars? These 39 members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have played it.
A ‘platz’ is the German word for ‘place’ – and this is how Musikfest divides its performance halls. Each platz has its own character with scenes, food and sellers. There is a new Musikfest place for 2022.
Here’s what you’ll find on each platz, from north to south. (All sites are free unless otherwise stated.)
- Main Street: The street is closed so that variety artists can perform on a stage at the northern end of the festival. The seats are uncovered. Food includes Dippin’ Dots, MMG Concessions, Take a Taco, and Theo’s Gyros.
- Liederplatz: A shaded courtyard hosts performances of folk, blues, Celtic and American music. Food includes MMG concessions.
- Hotel Bethlehem Platz: A smaller stage at the south end of Main Street hosts jazz bands, singer-songwriters, and acoustic artists. The seats are uncovered.
- Central Moravian Church: Not a place in itselfbut the church at the south end of Main Street is a place to cool off indoors with the vesper concert series weeknights starting at 7:30 p.m.
- Handwerkplatz: The arts and crafts section, with many vendors among the historic buildings of Bethlehem’s colonial industrial district. No music. Food includes ‘Aw Shucks’ Roasted Corn, Dippin’ Dots, Harvest Specialty Catering, Hogar Crea from Freemansburg and Island Noodles.
- Family Square: A space where kids and families can get creative, like in the Crayola Creativity Tent. An inclusion zone provides a safe place for people with sensory issues. No music.
- Festivalplatz: The biggest stage on the North Side. Polka and party bands play under a huge tent with covered seating. Food includes French Toast Bites, Greek Street, Heidi’s Strudel, Island Expressions, Karl Ehmer, Leiby’s Ice Cream, Meltdown Gourmet, Mr. Phil’s Concessions, Pat’s Pizza & Bistro, Philly Waffle Cabin, Take a Taco and The Flying V.
- Lagerplatz: A continuation of Festplatz, hosting “mini sets” of ‘Fest artists and some games in the Yuengling Lagerplatz Experience.
- Tropical Square: The tent hosts world, Latin, funk and rock shows with covered seating. Food includes “Aw Shucks” Roasted Corn, Big Wil & The Warden, Cubano X-Press, D&J Concessions, Heaven on a Bun, Island Expressions, Thai Jasmine, and Theo’s Gyros.
- Zinzenplatz: A musical variety performing for covered seating under a tent. Food includes Chick’n Cone, Haagen Dazs, Sherri’s Crab Cakes, Simply Skewered and Wiz Kids. The square is named after Countess Benigna von Zinzendorf, one of the first rulers of Bethlehem.
- The cooler : Home of ComedyPlatz and other storefronts. The building is on Sand Island, beyond Zinzenplatz.
- Town Square: The new place on the block for 2022 is in the courtyard between Bethlehem City Hall and the library. The stage will offer several performances every night. Food includes Dinky’s Ice Cream, Mr. Phil’s Concessions, The Little Sicilian and Van Pelt Hot Dog Co.
- Steel Step: Where do the headliners play? This is the only paid area of the Musikfest. Food inside the gates includes Heaven on a Bun, Homer’s Girls, Island Expressions, and Sherri’s Crab Cakes. The seats are uncovered.
- Americaplatz: Blues, rock, soul and country will play at the Levitt Pavilion in front of the SteelStacks. You can’t miss it, just look for the blast furnaces. Food includes Dinky’s Ice Cream, Füd Truck, Greek Street, Island Noodles, Le Petit Macaron, Mack Truck Stop, Slabs N Crabs, The Flying V and The Munchy Machine and Van Pelt Hot Dog Co. Seating area is not covered .
- Arts Quest Center: The Musikfest headquarters has the community stage outside, and the Musikfest Café, Lyrikplatz and Jazz Cabaret stage inside. Food at the ArtsQuest Center includes Central Tap, Palette Kitchen and Pour Bar.
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Musikfest is (mostly) cashless, so you have two ways to pay: credit and debit cards, or a Payment card.
CashCards are recyclable and rechargeable cards available around Musikfest to replace cash. The CashCard will only work at the food, drink and retail venues of the festival, excluding vendors at Handwerkplatz.
The SteelStacks campus will accept cash, as will, of course, the bars, restaurants and stores adjacent to the Fest.
AFTER: So many groups. So many genres. How does Musikfest select them all?
There are parking garages, metered spaces and urban land on both the north side and the south side. There are also streets with free parking if you look around and don’t mind a bit of a walk. But if you don’t feel like looking for a seat, you can hop on one of the shuttles.
The shuttles leave between 5 and 6 p.m. on weekdays and 11:30 a.m. on weekends, until 11 p.m. every night. Tickets are $3 to $5.
The shuttle to the North Side departs from 1525 Valley Center Parkway. The Southside Shuttle departs from 240 Emery St. A shuttle also runs between the North and South Sides starting at 4:30 p.m. weekdays and 11:30 a.m. weekends, until 11:30 p.m. nightly.
The north side rideshare pickup and drop-off points are the cul-de-sac at Old York Road, Walnut Street parking garage, and Sakon Plaza near City Hall. The Southside carpool point is at Second Street and Founders Way.
A limited number of parking spaces are available for people with disabilities. On the north side, these spaces are in the city parking lots, as well as on Conestoga Street and Lehigh Street. On Southside, special parking is available on the Second Street lots.
PICTURES: A look back at Musikfest through the years
First-time ‘Festers might not know it, but Musikfest has new cups every year with that year’s poster and theme.
For Musikfest 2022, the mug features a father and daughter in front of the SteelStacks, based on a real father-daughter duo. 2021’s headliner, Black Violin, is reflected in his sunglasses and ArtsQuest’s mascot, Artie the Owl, is in the girl’s pin. Musical notes swirl in bright yellows and oranges, with the symbolic star of Bethlehem.
“I decided to focus on the people, not the music or the performances,” contemporary artist and Lehigh Valley native bart cooper said when the design was released late last year. “Father and daughter may have different perspectives, but they experience the same joy and excitement together.”
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Steve Novak can be reached at [email protected].