If you’ve never made the short drive to Northeast Pennsylvania for the nation’s largest free music festival, this August is a good time to change that.
Musikfest takes over the streets of Bethlehem this year from August 6-16 – celebrating its 32nd year of bringing some of the biggest musical acts to the region in a carnival-like atmosphere in the center of the historic town.
The lineup is officially in, and the roster of acts includes a diverse array of talent across the musical spectrum. Up first is ’80s British New Wave legends Duran Duran, who return to Musikfest for the first time in 15 years on August 6. Featuring songs like “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Come Undone,” Duran Duran are still considered one of the true pioneers of the music video. (If you need a little reminder of their greatness, here’s a prime example.)
The momentum builds from there with the always psychedelic mind-blowing stage show of The Flaming Lips taking center stage on August 7, followed by Boy George & Culture Club on August 8 and O.A.R. with Allen Stone on August 9.
Jerry Seinfeld, who recently made headlines with his aversion to the current P.C. state of comedy, performs his storied stand-up routine on August 10, with the queen of country Reba McEntire playing August 11 and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees ZZ Top (and their massive beards) performing on August 12.
The ’90s return for a series of shows at the end of the festival, including 3 Doors Down and Collective Soul on August 13; Darius Rucker – aka Hootie himself – on August 14; hip-hop luminary Snoop Dogg (or whatever he calls himself these days) on August 15; and closing out the festival are grunge greats Alice in Chains on August 16.
Tickets to the headlining shows are now on sale on the Musikfest website, but the festival is not just about the paid concerts. More than 300 artists are featured on 15 different stages throughout Bethlehem, playing upwards of 500 free shows over the course of 10 days that highlight everything from rock and blues to jazz and the near undefinable (check out the genre-bending sounds and crazy lucha libre wrestling masks of Los Straitjackets on August 10).
Some of this year’s featured free shows include Kristian Bush of the country superstar duo Sugarland on August 12; alternative rock stars Cracker, who gained popularity with songs like “Low” and “Euro-Trash Girl,” on August 14; and New Orleans own horn master Glen David Andrews on August 14 and 15 (read about him in a previous Fly story).
Besides the music, Musikfest also features outdoor Biergartens, more than 60 food vendors, demonstrating arts and crafts vendors and theatrical and street performers like the Australian-based contemporary theater company Polyglot Theatre, who set up large-scale interactive installation pieces.
For more information on Musikfest, go to their website where you can find a complete schedule of events, amenities and ideas on where to stay in Bethlehem (which is a great idea to get to experience the full flavors of the festival).