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8.07.2016

Musikfest 2016!

Musikfest 2016 began its run this past Friday. It is our nation's largest largely free music festival, with over 500 free events at over fifteen different stages and venues spread out around the city of Bethlehem. Every year we travel to Bethlehem to visit Musikfest because of how awesome it is. Musikfest is a world class event and results in the transformation of a charming city into one huge party. In addition to the events, Bethlehem has such awesome historical, architectural, and natural beauty, with every period of American history represented, from colonial history to now. From the founding of Bethlehem in 1741 as a mission settlement by the Moravians, through gilded age industrialization and wealth, through industrial decline, and into the 21st century, Bethlehem is one of the finest time capsules of the history of this nation. Musikfest is an awesome festival that showcases this special city.
Liederplatz is my favorite venue, with its location in the courtyard of the historic Sun Inn, a historic building that was an inn for the Moravians. They hosted many of the founding fathers and important historic figures throughout the early history of our nation. The founding of the town's renowned Lehigh University was announced by Asa Packer during a ball held at the inn. The building was neglected for a long period of time until the building was purchased in 1975 and revitalized and restored in 1981. Over the last decade or so, revitalization efforts have resulted in even greater improvements and a more cemented involvement in community events.
The Sun Inn is one of the many colonial buildings in Bethlehem.
Volksplatz always has some of the most eclectic and eccentric bands. You will always be surprised with what you see at this venue. 
Day two started with a walk through some of the areas of the historic center of the Moravian settlement in downtown Bethlehem. This area is occupied by the Central Moravian Church, Moravian Book Shop, Moravian College, and the Moravian Academy. All of these institutions have roots in colonial times, before the founding of the nation. The book shop is the oldest continuously operating book shop in the country, and the second oldest in the world. We did a book signing at this historic book shop a few years back with our Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip book. This corridor behind the church and book shop is the next block in from historic Main Street and it goes through the grounds of the these amazing institutions. 

Now we head over to Main Street to pick up a delicious gyro, one of the main delicious eats from street vendors. While you have some great food, you can take in some different street entertainers, music acts, and more. 

The historic Hotel Bethlehem. This hotel dates back to the golden age of Bethlehem Steel in the 1920s and it is absolutely stunning. 
Just below the hotel is the Colonial Industrial Quarter, with a series of buildings that have been steadily revitalized,. The area has a series of 18th and early 19th century buildings that give a glimpse into the early industry that made colonial and early American life possible. These buildings include a blacksmith shop, a mill, tannery, waterworks, and more. The waterworks, dating back to 1762, was the heart of the first pumped water system in the colonies. The Colonial Industrial Quarter serves as the heart of the festival, tying together the venues of the north side of the festival.
The  
Back to Volksplatz!
Just across the Monocacy Creek is Festplatz, the largest of the free stage venues, complete with a large dance floor.

Looking up towards the Central Moravian Church.
The waterworks building, dating back to 1762.
Over a dozen stages spread out around the city of Bethlehem, with over 500 performances over ten days makes for the largest mostly free music festival in the country, and one of the finest celebrations to check out. We recommend spending at least two days at the festival if you want to get the full experience. With many different bands spanning many genres, along with the sights and sounds of the city, and so much more, there is so much to do and see. I recommend spending as much time as you can at the festival. Thanks to the event spanning ten days, you have ample opportunities to visit. You should also make visiting the festival an annual tradition. For more information on entertainment, schedules, and more at the festival, check out http://www.musikfest.org

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