Bethel Woods Drops Woodstock Anniversary Festival

The Hudson Valley site of the 1969 music celebration focuses on arts and summer concerts with A Season of Song and Celebration.


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Photos From Brea Carter / INVNT

 

It's sad, but true. Bethel Woods is no longer hosting its Woodstock anniversary festival this summer.

In a recent announcement, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts (BWCA) revealed that it has withdrawn its plans for a three-day music fest to mark the 50th anniversary of the cultural renaissance that was Woodstock 1969. Instead, it will host three separate concerts during the days the festival was meant to take place, looping its previously scheduled August performances into its "A Season of Song and Celebration" programming, which began with the reopening of the Museum at Bethel Woods at the end of March and continues all summer long.

"We are humbled by the interest in the anniversary year and we realized it was greater than we'd ever dreamed," says Bethel's CEO Darlene Fedun. "We recognize the importance of this place to so many, and our mission of preservation and interpretation of the 1960s is central to A Season of Song and Celebration, as it provides our guests the opportunity to reflect, to learn, and to celebrate the legacy of what occurred here."

The decision follows a number of recent changes to Bethel's original plans for the summer festival. In February, INVNT, the storytelling agency for the Bethel fest, revealed that it would no longer be overseeing production. Notably, this announcement came shortly after Michael Lang, the promoter behind the 1969 Woodstock concert, unveiled plans for Woodstock 50 at Watkins Glen. While the number of artists confirmed for that event are numerous, highlights include The Killers, Miley Cyrus, The Lumineers, Chance The Rapper, The Black Keys, Jay-Z, Imagine Dragons, Halsey, and Cage the Elephant.

 

 

Looking ahead, Bethel plans to focus on its impressive summer lineup of concerts and cultural events. On March 30, The Museum at Bethel Woods opened its special exhibit, titled We Are Golden - Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of the Woodstock Festival and Aspirations for a Peaceful Future, which serves as a photographic showcase of the historic festival and its impact on society. Following that, on May 4, the newly restored Bindy Bazaar trails, which once functioned as a marketplace for vendors to sell colorful wares during the festival, will open for public use.

 

An Epic Summer Concert Series

Beginning at the end of May, an epic summer concert season lures big-time artists to the Hudson Valley through October. Here are all the artists we know who are coming to the anniversary grounds in 2019:

May 24 - The Family Stone
June 1 - Sha Na Na
June 8 - KFEST with Ciara, Shaggy, Bazzi, Fletcher,  Bryce Vine, Jeremy Zucker, Jake Miller
June 19 - Dave Matthews Band
June 21 - Zac Brown Band with special guest Caroline Jones
June 27 - A Royal Affair: Yes, Asia, John Lodge and Carl Palmer's ELP Legacy
June 30 - Peter Frampton's Farewell Tour with Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Evening
July 5 - Shinedown
July 6 - Jackson Browne with special guest Lucius
July 11 - The Klezmatics
July 20 - Elvis Costello & The Imposters and Blondie
July 26 - Chris Stapleton
July 27 - Train & The Goo Goo Dolls with special guest Allen Stone
July 29 - Heart with Sheryl Crow & Elle King
July 30 - Joe Bonamassa
August 1 - Gordon Lightfoot: 80 Years Strong Tour
August 8 - Alice Cooper & Halestorm‚Äč
August 9 - Nelly, TLC, & Flo Rida‚Äč
August 18 - John Fogerty
August 30 - Bush & Live
August 31 - Pentatonix with special guest Rachel Platten
September 12 - Luke Bryan with special guests Cole Swindell and Jon Langston
October 19 - John Sebastian

Also in June, the grounds at Bethel Woods will welcome Mountain Jam, the beloved Hudson Valley music festival that relocates from its longtime venue at Hunter Mountain for the first time since its inception 14 years ago. From June 13-16, notable names like Willie Nelson & Family, Gov't Mule, and The Avett Brothers, to name only a few, will rock the scenic stage.

 

 

So, What's Happening Instead? 

Even though Bethel's anniversary fest is no more, the center will still host a handful of exciting August concerts to mark the celebratory occasion. Starting on Thursday, August 15, Bethel makes a nod to its history with a screening of the Warner Bros. Academy-Award winning documentary, Woodstock: the Director's Cut.

Then comes the music. August 16 is the first day of shows, with none other than Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band on the Pavilion Stage. He'll be joined by Arlo Guthrie, who performed just after midnight on the first day of the original festival (yes, it was also on Friday). As if that wasn't enough, Edgar Winter and The Edgar Winter Band will make a return trip to Bethel for the first time since their '69 show with brother Johnny Winter. Then, on Saturday, the epic lineup continues when Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Woodstock icon Santana graces the Pavilion Stage (he'll also be at the Watkins Glen Woodstock 50 fest). His performance is particularly momentous, since it goes down exactly 50 years to the day of his unforgettable Saturday afternoon show in 1969. Joining him as special guests will be The Doobie Brothers.

 

 

In addition to the impressive lineup of performances slated for spring and summer, Bethel will host TED-style talks from leading futurists and retro-tech experts. Check out the full schedule of happenings on Bethel's calendar of events here.

“Fifty years ago, people gathered peacefully on our site inspired to change the world through music,” says Darlene Fedun, CEO, BWCA. “As the stewards of this historic site, we remain committed to preserving this rich history and spirit, and to educating and inspiring new generations to contribute positively to the world through music, culture, and community.”


Related: Meet the Couple From The Iconic Woodstock Album Cover

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