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“This is ground zero for peace and love... the place where miracles keep happening.”— Carlos Santana, performing at Bethel Woods in 2017
Imagine a verdant alfalfa farm in the quaint town of Bethel tucked away in the Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York. Now, envision 400,000 music lovers, free thinkers and some of the best bands of the era descending upon this quiet little patch of the world. In August of 1969, they came for the Woodstock Music and Art Fair and left as a community that made history. Today, people are still flocking to Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, historic site of the Woodstock festival, to discover the magic behind this cultural phenomenon and pursue their own love of music, the arts and free-spirited fun.
The Museum at Bethel Woods
Nothing celebrates the cultural phenomenon of Woodstock quite like The Museum at Bethel Woods. Take time to explore the main exhibit area featuring 21 short films, interactive exhibits, a psychedelic bus, fascinating artifacts and first-person accounts. What resonates most is how Woodstock showed the world just how transformative music can be. Visit the annual Special Exhibits, which dive deeper into the stories of the 1960s. After you tour The Museum, shop for tie-dye T-shirts and festival memorabilia at the Bindy Bazaar Museum Shop, then hit Yasgur’s Farm Cafe, a farm-inspired eatery named after Max Yasgur, the farmer who agreed to lease his land for the festival. After your meal, wander the original festival site including the new woodland walking trail, where you can still see remnants of the Bindy Bazaar (the original festival’s marketplace).
Learning about the cultural significance of Woodstock in The Museum at Bethel Woods
Woodstock Festival Site
A monument marks the National Register Historic Site, where almost half a million people gathered for three days of peace, love and music – and where visitors of all ages still travel from around the world to reflect on what happened here. With a legacy that remains relevant today, Woodstock’s legendary lineup included Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Santana and The Who, among myriad others. Gazing across the grassy expanse, it’s amazing to think that this serene locale was home to one of the biggest cultural events to define the 1960s and beyond. Wandering the grounds, accompanied only by the sound of the breeze, you can almost hear Jimi Hendrix riffing his rock rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Organizers were overwhelmed by the unanticipated size of the crowd, but attendees responded with peace and love, forming a community that would define the spirit of Woodstock and ensure its lasting impact.
Overlooking the field where Woodstock took place, now a National Register Historic Site
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
Bethel Woods’ gorgeous scenery also offers an idyllic backdrop for scores of concerts, family programs and food and beverage festivals. After all, it’s easy to draw top acts here. Who wouldn’t want to play at the hallowed grounds of the original Woodstock festival? In addition to modern popular artists, original Woodstock performers such as Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Santana, Joe Cocker, and members of The Grateful Dead and The Who have all played at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. Visitors to the center can also plan trips to coincide with events celebrating music, film, food and creativity. These include seasonal, family-friendly festivals celebrating everything from Halloween to the harvest, art classes and after-hours experiences at the museum. After all, you don’t have to be a 1960s flower child to make your own history at this special place.
Sampling craft beers at a special event held at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is located in Bethel, part of the Sullivan County Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York. It can be reached easily by car in about two hours from New York City.
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