Have you ever wondered about the story behind the 1969 Woodstock Festival? Have you ever visited Bethel Woods Center for the Arts?
Dear fellow music lovers,
My one and only regret in life is that I didn’t find out about ‘Bethel Woods Center for the Arts’ sooner.
After moving up to the Mid-Hudson Region in 2013, my family and I focused our efforts on finding things within a 10-15 mile radius from where we live and not getting lost along the way.
Because we had never lived anywhere rural, we kept all our adventures very close to home. And, boy, did we miss out on a lot those first few years.
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A Visit to Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
Essential Tips for enjoying the day and/or evening at Bethel Woods:
→ Plan your day ahead of time.
→ Allow extra time for traffic. Bethel, NY is a small town and there are only a few ways in and out of the location.
→ Make sure to purchase Premium Parking tickets AHEAD OF TIME. They often sell out (if applicable for your visit). It’s an extra expense but will be convenient, especially after an evening of musical fun.
→ Check the weather, as it can be unpredictable, especially during the Summer months.
→ Take lots of photos so you can reminisce about your outing at a later time!
→ Pro Tip: Pack extra essentials in your car (extra shoes, snacks, extra clothes in case you get wet in a rain storm)
Where is Bethel Woods Located?
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is located in Bethel, NY (Sullivan County). It is located approximately 2-3 hours from NYC and is the site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival.
There is a strict bag policy for concert-goers ONLY. They allow clear bags no larger than 12x6x12. I have purchased this one from Amazon and have taken it everywhere with me and love it!
This not-for-profit performing arts center and museum hosts an array of musical concerts and festivals throughout the year.
Walking on the grounds of the Historic 1969 Woodstock Festival, I was elated to see that in, February 2017, the site had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Such an exciting time for Bethel Woods and the Woodstock Festival Site and Music History!
In addition to hosting fantastic musical acts and concerts each summer, Bethel Woods also houses a beautiful museum documenting the 1969 Woodstock Festival.
In June 2016, my husband bought me tickets to see Journey and the Doobie Brothers for a birthday present.
All I can say is, “Wow”! I was impressed because Bethel Woods is not only beautiful, and, equally important, clean and so well organized, I was impressed from the beginning of my visit to the end.
Arriving at Bethel Woods Center
During my visits, I entered through the West Shore Road Entrance and was able to see The “Woodstock Festival Field” from the road.
It was emotional to see people walking towards the field and being mesmerized by the field itself.
I’m sure they envisioned what it must have been like on that August day back in 1969 when hundreds of thousands of people arrived to celebrate music and, in turn, make Music History.
During my second visit in September 2016, I made it a point to arrive early in order to visit ‘The Museum‘. Surprisingly, I was able to visit the museum for a discounted price, because I had a ticket for that evening’s concert.
I say that’s a Win-Win!
Entrance to ‘The Museum at Bethel Woods‘ is discounted for those holding tickets to an evening concert on the same day of the visit.
My third visit in the Summer of 2017 was no less disappointing. I saw Cyndi Lauper and Sir Rod Stewart. Talk about bringing back childhood memories. It was definitely a magical evening!
While waiting to see two of the most iconic musicians of my generation, I felt like a kid again. I was humming their songs the whole drive up to Bethel Woods and while waiting to enter the Concert Pavilion.
Entering Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
Walking onto the property that houses the Museum, Box Office and Gift Shop is like stepping back in time. The grounds and the main building are beautiful!
During my visit the previous year, I had more time and I visited the Museum at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.
This time, since I didn’t plan my time well and was caught in traffic for some time, I was only able to briefly walk around and grab a bite to eat at their onsite cafe before the concert started.
First Thing I learned from my visits:
The First Thing I learned from my visit is that if you don’t visit ‘The Museum at Bethel Woods’ then you’re wasting your time.
The Museum at Bethel Woods is Awe-inspiring with a wonderful collection of music memorabilia.
If you are going to a concert, this is a perfect beginning to an evening of music.
If you are just visiting the Museum and grounds, then take your time doing so, because there is so much to see. You will want to take it all in!
They have many displays and showcase boxes housing original record covers, original show outfits of performers, and a string collection of print material.
They also have several video installations that take you back to that famous weekend and offer an abundance of information regarding the Woodstock Festival.
And who doesn’t want to see the ‘Flower Power’ Woodstock bus? ☮️
Lower Exhibits Change at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
Although I didn’t visit the museum the last time I was there, I was happy to see that they had changed the downstairs exhibit area near the area where the bathrooms are located.
During my visit, instead of photographs featuring musical acts that had performed at Bethel Woods Pavilion each summer, it now displays the performers from the 1969 Woodstock Festival.
It featured each musical act, their bio and a list of their greatest hits.
Lining the walls are the pictures and information from the 1969 Woodstock Festival musical acts including:
- Jefferson Airplane
- Crosby, Stills & Nash
- Sly & the Family Stone
- Joan Baez
- The Grateful Dead
- Creedance Clearwater Revival
- and many, many more…
Entry into The Museum at Bethel Woods:
Museum Entry Prices:
At the time of this blog post, the entrance fee is as follows:
$19.96 (adult)/day of visit
$17 (adult)/in advance
$10 (ages 6-18)/day of visit
$8 (ages 6-18)/in advance
Free (children under age 5).
Discounted admission is offered during summer concert days:
$10/day of visit
A few things to know before Visiting ‘The Museum at Bethel Woods:
→ Plan to spend between 90 minutes to 2 hours exploring the various exhibits.
→ If you miss anything or want to walk through again, you may do so by showing your ticket stub.
→ Don’t forget to visit the Woodstock Monument during your visit (it is located on the corner of Hurds Road & West Shore Road)
Second Thing I Learned from my visits:
The second thing I learned from my visits is that the venue is not only for Country Music.
Bethel Woods hosts many concerts during the summer, for all types of Music Lovers and all types of genres. There is absolutely something in the lineup for everyone’s music tastes:
Here is an example of past concerts:
- Steely Dan with Steve Winwood (2016)
- Barenaked Ladies (2016)
- An Evening with Bryan Adams (2015)
- Train & The Fray with Matt Nathanson (2015)
- Rascal Flatts with Scotty McCreery and RaeLynn (2015)
- An Evening with James Taylor (2014)
- Santana (2014)
- The Temptations and the Four Tops (2014)
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Where to Get Your Music Fix in Ulster County
The Pavilion at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
While looking into purchasing tickets for their concerts, there are two choices available: Pavilion Seating (Several Price Options) and Lawn Seating (General Admission Fee).
Last year I attended two concerts, one with Pavilion Seats and the other with Lawn Seats. Each was great for the concert that I attended.
Below are some pictures of the grounds and where the Lawn seats are located in relation to the Pavilion and the Stage.
Third Thing I Learned from my visits:
The third thing I learned is that it may be quicker to get to Bethel Woods Center for the Arts than to other music venues in the tri-state area.
- The Music Concerts and Museum are good for everyone, including families with children (unless otherwise advertised.
- Dining: There are several dining options at Bethel Woods (Music Cafe during the museum hours and a Pre-Concert Buffet on concert days)
- Coach USA/Shortline offers bus service, during summer concert days, from NYC, NJ, and Middletown, NY
- Big V Entertainment offers bus service, during summer concert days, from Monticello Casino
- They allow tailgating before every summer concert event.
- Parking: Parking is always free, but, if you prefer, there is an option to purchase Premium Parking for a fee. These premium spots, closer to the Pavilion entrance, often sell out quickly.
- Concert Prices: Ticket prices vary from one event to another. Check their website for prices for each individual event/concert
- Outdoor Concerts at the Pavilion occur during the warm weather months only and happen rain or shine
Fourth Thing I Learned from my visits:
The fourth thing I learned is that you have the option of enjoying live music without Breaking the Bank.
Bethel Woods is very affordable, considering that they offer free parking and allow you to take in your own food.
Fifth Thing I Learned from my visits:
The fifth thing I learned is that I didn’t think I would love music more than I already had!
I hope you have an amazing time if you ever decide to visit Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. If visiting the Museum only, a concert only or a combination of the two, I’m sure you will not be disappointed.
I’m already planning my next trip up.
A few things to know before visiting Bethel Woods Center for the Arts:
→ The concerts are events that take place either rain or shine
→ Parking is free, but there is Premium Parking available for a fee (must be purchased at the time of purchasing your concert ticket)
→ Traffic can be very heavy, during concert days so allow sufficient time for travel.
→ There are some dining options near the venue and a limited number of options on-site
→ Tailgating is allowed before the concert
→ Food is allowed on the premises during concert days (except for The Museum) and must fit into 1 gallon style Ziploc bag per person. You are also allowed two sealed 20oz bottles of water per person.
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
200 Hurd Road
Bethel, NY 12720
With so many great music venues in the Hudson Valley, it is hard to choose one as a favorite.
Tell me your favorite music venue in the comments below!
Until the Next Adventure…
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