It's hard to believe that the biggest music festival of the summer is in the home stretch. But there's still a huge amount of festing to do and it can be overwhelming. So here are 10 don't-miss attractions for the final weekend.
1. Cast in Bronze returns: If you need your annual fix of the masked carillon player, you're in luck. Cast in Bronze is back in his seat ringing his massive bells on the lawn at Handwerkplatz on the hour 5-9 p.m. Aug. 7-9 and on the hour 5:30-9:30 p.m. closing day Aug. 10. Cast In Bronze is the only musical act of its kind in the world.
2. Aerial Mind: Cirque du Soleil popularized the image of strong performers swinging through the air on beautiful pieces of fabric. Well, apparently it's not that hard to do, if only you put your mind to it, and it will do your mind some good. Aerial Mind, a Bethlehem-based business started by Christine Gorigoitia, will demonstrate how it all works in performances inside the ArtsQuest Center. See the artistry on the hour 6-8 p.m. Aug. 8-10.
3. Musical theme days: Earlier this week, there was Country Band Night, Jam Band Night and Irish Pub Night. Stop by Plaza Tropical 2:30-11 p.m. Aug. 7 for a Day at the Beach, and get loose with bands such as The Big Wahu, Caribbean Steel Rhythms and Jimmy and the Parrots. On Aug. 9, it's British Invasion Day noon-11 p.m. at Festplatz. Dance down memory lane with Blue Meanies playing music by The Kinks, The British Invasion Tribute, the Glimmer Twins with their Rolling Stones Tribute and Strawberry Fields, the Ultimate Beatles Tribute. And take to the dance floor at Festplatz noon-11 p.m. Aug. 10 for a preview of ArtsQuest's Oktoberfest, noon-11 p.m. featuring traditional polka band Walt Groller Orchestra, contemporary polka band Alex Meixner Band (previewing his new CD "Happiness is a Choice") and the melodic, grooving Uptown Band.
4. Late night music and comedy: Maybe this is your weekend to burn the midnight oil. Musikfest at SteelStacks is open till 1 a.m. Inside the Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas at the ArtsQuest Center, comedy starts at 11:15 p.m. Shows include Story Time Comedy hour with popular improv comedy troupe ManDudeBro on Aug. 7, standup by Allentown native Jim Tews on Aug. 8 and standup by Pat House on Aug. 9. Admission is extra — $5. Or check out the local and regional performers on the Community Stage at Air Products Town Square outside the ArtsQuest Center. Hard rock band Mount Carmel cranks it up at 11 p.m. Aug. 8. And Pittsburgh DIY rock quartet White Like Fire, described by one reviewer as "punk vibe over a dance beat," takes the stage at 11 p.m. Aug. 9 after the Weezer concert on Sands Steel Stage.
5. Headliners at Sands Steel Stage: Speaking of Musikfest at SteelStacks, there's quite a weekend lineup on the main stage. The Avett Brothers, with its kicked up rootsy rock, performs Aug. 7, with soulful powerhouse opener Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds. Two big country acts also perform — the more traditional Alan Jackson on Aug. 8 and the rockin' Keith Urban on Aug. 10. Sandwiched between on Aug. 9 is veteran pop rock band Weezer. Tickets range from $40-$60. You can buy on site at the Sands Steel Stage box office (Keith Urban is sold out; tickets only available from some secondary resellers.)
6. Bands doing cool things to other people's songs: Love Cannon (5:30 p.m. Aug. 7, Volksplatz; 9 p.m. Aug. 7, Liederplatz) takes 1980s hits and turns them into bluegrass romps. Puddles Pity Party (8 p.m. Aug. 8, Musikfest Cafe) is 7 feet tall, dressed like a clown and croons contemporary hits such as Lorde's "Royals," with a golden voice. Scott Bradlee & Postmodern Jukebox (7 p.m. Aug. 9, Americaplatz) has become a viral sensation for reworking pop hits such as Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop" and Macklemore's "Thrift Shop" in vintage styles.
7. Mini Car Rally: Not a little rally, but a rally of little British cars descends on Musikfest this weekend. Mini owners from across the country are pullling into Bethlehem Aug. 8 as part of their legendary cross-country road rally. Then on Aug. 9 at 8:30 a.m., they'll line up on First Street at SteelStacks to drive off to Boston to finish the last leg of the 2014 MTTS. ArtsQuest says the Musikfest stop has the most participants registered out of any of the Mini stages.
8. DanceNOWSteelStacks presents The Dash: The New York City-baed company, which has been collaborating with ArtsQuest for several years to present dance at SteelStacks, returns with a work that combines modern, hip hop, floor work and physical theater. The Dash gets its name from the dash between your birth date and death date — your lifespan. The work focuses on the events that occur in your life, that no matter how big or how small, always feel epic. See it Aug. 8-10 at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. on the Community Stage at Air Products Town Square in front of the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks.
9. Church services: It has become a Musikfest tradition to hold church services on Sunday mornings. At 10 a.m. Sunday, a Christian celebration at Plaza Tropical will be presented by Wesley United Methodist Church. Also, at 10 a.m., there will be a Polka Mass presented by Sacred Heart Hospital at Festplatz.
10. Fireworks: Bringing Musikfest to a colorful close, the annual fireworks show is at 9:45 p.m. Aug. 10. Best viewing spots: The old Americaplatz plaza next to City Hall on the north side and the area around the ArtsQuest Center and Levitt Pavilion at SteelStacks on the south side.
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