Musikfest is an American music festival that has been held annually in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, United States, since 1984, and it claims to be the nation's largest non-gated free music festival. The festival begins on the first Friday in August, and ends on Sunday ten days later. Each year, thousands of visitors and residents of Pennsylvania make the trip to Bethlehem to participate in a celebration that weaves through a Moravian community that dates back to 1741. Festival visitors are treated to hundreds of free shows over the course of the event. Each night, the festival's premium stage, Steel Stage (formerly known as RiverPlace and Kunstplatz), hosts a nationally-known recording artist. These premium concerts, along with select shows at other stages, do require paid tickets to gain admission. Some notable past headlining shows have included Clay Aiken, Air Supply, Alan Jackson, Alice in Chains, Adam Lambert, Alice Cooper, Boston, The Beach Boys, Tony Bennett, Boyz II Men, Carrie Underwood, Collective Soul, Ray Charles, George Clinton, Dixie Chicks, B.B. King, Kansas, Weird Al Yankovic, Poison, Staind, Duran Duran, Earth, Wind & Fire, Ludacris, Hootie & the Blowfish, Kool & The Gang, Jethro Tull, Jonny Lang, Stone Sour, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Don McLean, Martina McBride, Steve Miller Band, Live, Enter the Haggis, REO Speedwagon, Maroon 5, George Thorogood, and many others. Local German roots are the foundation of the celebration, and most of the festival's venues use , the German word for place or square, at the ends of their names. A popular place for eating and listening to music, for example, is the large "Festplatz", which includes 300 dining tables, and usually features a polka band each night. Beyond that, however, Musikfest's music, food, and other attractions represent a broad range of ethnicities. Musikfest is presented by ArtsQuest, a nonprofit arts organization founded to "celebrate arts and culture" in the Lehigh Valley and beyond. Proceeds from the event benefit ArtsQuest ventures such as the Banana Factory community arts center in South Bethlehem, as well as other nonprofit groups throughout the region.
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