Musikfest Celebrates 40th Anniversary with Record-Setting Attendance
Final wrap-up includes states and countries attended, performances recap, new and returning vendors, special notables and more.
Bethlehem, PA, August 15, 2023 – Musikfest 2023 is a wrap! Celebrating 40 years of the country’s largest non-gated music festival proved to be a success as this year’s festival broke attendance records with 1,330,000 people checking out the festival this year! It was a phenomenal 11 days and nights, filled with exceptional music performances, delicious food representing a variety of cultures reflective of the Lehigh Valley, plenty of artisans and crafters and dedicated areas for children and families to get creative and have fun.
“The biggest news for Musikfest 2023 is of course record-setting attendance numbers,” commented Kassie Hilgert, President and CEO of ArtsQuest. “1,330,000 people from 46 states (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) and ten countries (including Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Germany, Mexico, Spain, Senegal, Sweden and The United Kingdom), all attended. We celebrated with residents and visitors from near and far for this annual event that just keeps getting better year after year. I’m honored to be a part of such an amazing organization that includes just over 1,0000 Musikfest volunteers, who without their help, Musikfest wouldn’t happen and a staff that truly values and knows the positive effect the arts can have on a community. Of course, a special thanks goes out to Mayor Reynolds, the Bethlehem Police Department, all of our partnering law enforcement agencies and city officials who worked tirelessly to make sure we were safe and secure throughout the festival. Something special happens every August, where we all row together in the same direction, making Musikfest a tremendous success year after year.”
“On behalf of myself and our administration, city officials, the Bethlehem Police Department along with all of our partnering law enforcement agencies – local, state and federal, I am thrilled to report to our community that Musikfest 2023 was a success like no other,” commented Mayor J. William Reynolds, City of Bethlehem. “For the majority of the 11-day event, we enjoyed phenomenal weather and the nation’s largest non-gated music festival was a fantastic experience for the entire city. We enjoyed free music and great food from local vendors and had lots of fun. We welcomed officials from our German sister-city, Schwäbisch Gmünd, the first weekend to participate in our 40th anniversary of Musikfest, as they experienced the exceptional voices of the Bach Choir and the second weekend, we welcomed our child to the world! Thanks to Kassie Hilgert, CEO and President of ArtsQuest, along with everyone involved – from the entire ArtsQuest team, volunteers and others who made this festival experience such a success. The mission of ArtsQuest is loud and clear and we look forward to a future of expanded growth in the arts for all throughout our community. We can’t wait for next year.”
Musikfest welcomed 457 performers from 26 states and eight countries, including Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Germany, Mexico, Spain, Senegal and The United Kingdom. 50,000 tickets were sold for eleven ticketed headliner shows that took to the Wind Creek Steel Stage, with 26 bands in total playing there. Headliners included AJR (sold-out), WALK THE MOON, G-Eazy, Dan + Shay, Walker Hayes, Keith Sweat & Monica, Goo Goo Dolls & O.A.R (sold-out), Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, El Gran Combo, Maren Morris and Train & Better Than Ezra (sold-out).
Additionally, there were 88 FREE street performances that musically jammed throughout the entire festival and included genres such as alternative, blues, children’s/family, classical, country, folk, funk, indie, pop, rock, soul, and more (and of course, the festival’s staple, polka).
There were a total number of 40 official food vendors at this year’s Musikfest, of which nine were new this year to the festival.
“We’re honored and humbled to have been invited to be a part of Musikfest for their 40th anniversary and our first ever appearance,” said Nick and Erika Loukas, owners of Slide on By. “We were impressed with how organized and efficient the staff and volunteers were to help us with any issues that arose. We experienced a strong sense of community with our neighboring vendors and a lot of people willing to offer help and advice to the newbies. The crowds were awesome, and we got so much positive feedback that they loved our food! Musikfest has allowed us to get our food truck and our brand in front of a lot of new faces and we find that to be the highest value to our business.”
“This year’s festival was our best to date and we are so grateful for the opportunity to serve our food to thousands of people over 10 days,” commented Christie Vzmazal, of The Flying V. “It’s very hard work, but we love the energy the festival brings and are honored to be a part of it all.”
The beloved Cast In Bronze (also known as The Bell Guy) returned for the 40th anniversary with limited performances.
The Inclusion Zone, in partnership with Accessible Festivals and presented by Good Shephard Rehabilitation Network, featured two Zones this year on both the north and southsides, is a sensory-supportive space that provides services, tools and amenities to benefit individuals with sensory-processing difficulties of all ages and abilities
Musikfest partnered with VSYN+ and SignTasTic to bring sign language entertainment to the festival, with a two-day event featuring nationally renowned deaf artists.
Comedyplatz, located at the Charles A. Brown Ice House included free standup showcases featuring comedians from the Lehigh Valley, New York City, Philadelphia and beyond.
This year, Musikfest celebrated its 40th anniversary with twelve dedicated 40-year volunteers, all of which continued to play a pivotal role. Whether a first-year volunteer, a 40th-year volunteer or somewhere in between, Musikfest relies on the people who volunteer their time and talent and want to be a part of it all, and have some fun, too.
“Being part of ArtsQuest’s volunteer leadership has been a wonderful experience,” commented Orville Trout, Executive Vice President Human Resources, Corporate Affairs & Administration Crayola. “Along with my fellow board members, I am part of this wonderful organization that provides Musikfest and countless other experiences throughout the year. I look forward to ArtsQuest’s future as we develop the Turn & Grind Shop and the new Community Cultural Center.”
“With another successful Musikfest in the books, we look forward to ArtsQuest’s next chapter,” commented Gregg Feinberg, Co-Chair ArtsQuest’s Re-Imagine That Capital Campaign. “So much has changed over the festival’s 40 years, but the love of gathering together as a community has not. In fact, it’s grown – as we now focus on the future of ArtsQuest and its mission of providing access to the arts for all. Over the next couple of years, the ArtsQuest campus will evolve as a new, state-of-the-art cultural center and a larger events center will be built. We’re excited for the positive impact that these new and expanded programs will bring to individuals of all ages along with families, across the entire Lehigh Valley.”
ArtsQuest’s mission is to provide access to exceptional artistic, cultural and educational experiences using arts and culture as key elements of economic development for our urban communities. ArtsQuest™ supports this mission via the presentation of performing and visual arts, film, arts education classes and outreach, youth programming and cultural events. Through festivals such as its flagship event, Musikfest; the Banana Factory Arts Center; and the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks arts and cultural campus, ArtsQuest’s programming reaches more than 1.9 million people annually. The organization’s programs and events, of which over 50% of which are free to attend, have a combined economic impact of more than $136 million annually in the region.