Musikfest returns in 2021 with in-person festival and music performances

Written by on May 26, 2021

Musikfest returns in 2021 with in-person festival and music performances

By Hayden Mitman

May 26, 2021

Graphic courtesy of Musikfest. Artwork by local Lehigh Valley artist Mandy Martin.

Musikfest, which claims to be the largest free concert festival in the country, is set to return this summer. 

Listen to the story.

The event was curtailed last year because of COVID-19, but organizers expect to host more than 300 live performances Aug. 6-15, without COVID restrictions.

“Bringing it back means not just supporting ArtsQuest, it’s the hotels, the restaurants, all the small businesses, did not have that benefit last year,” says  Kassie Hilgert, president and chief executive officer of ArtsQuest, the non-profit parent of Musikfest. 

“To think we can bring the community together and help us recover has been something we’ve been looking forward to for a very long time,” she says  

In 2019, over a 10-day span, Musikfest says it saw more than 1.2 million visitors and brought  $77 million dollars into the local economy. 

Then the coronavirus hit.

In 2020, Musikfest could only operate at a fraction of its former size. ArtsQuest says it lost 90% of its annual revenue.

“After all we’ve gone through together as a community, we are so proud to be partnering with the city of Bethlehem and all our wonderful volunteers, sponsors and supporters, to put on the Musikfest we all know and love, once again,” said Hilgert. 

Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez says Musikfest’s return will help boost businesses throughout the region. 

“We are working in partnership with ArtsQuest and our community public health and safety partners to put on the safest festival possible in order to support small business, tourism and economic development,” says Donchez. “For more than three decades, Musikfest has brought millions of people to Bethlehem. Now, more than ever, it is important to support ArtsQuest including the performers, artists, vendors and small businesses in any capacity possible.”

At the moment, there are no restrictions on crowd size or masking. But Hilgert says they are working with the Bethlehem Health Bureau.

“When these guidelines changed, that was our first phone call to say, what do we do now?” Hilgert says.

Musikfest is planning a special preview on Aug. 5 with a performance from Darius Rucker who had been scheduled for last year. Tickets for the 2020 show will be honored.

This year marks the 37th anniversary of Musikfest, which debuted in 1984.

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