The Woodstock Music and Art Festival is perhaps the most famous music festival in history and it defined a generation of the counterculture. Woodstock is an easy drive from NYC in Upstate New York. Today the site is preserved and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Near the site is also the dedicated Bethel Woods Center For The Arts. For anyone looking for some great stops in an epic American Rock n' Roll trip, this is certainly one. Another must-see Rock n' Roll attraction is Graceland in Memphis - the mansion of Elvis Presley that anyone can visit.

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The Woodstock Music and Art Festival

Woodstock was held from 15th to 18th August 1969 on Max Yasgur's dairy farm in Bethel (about 40 miles southwest of the town called Woodstock). While it was meant to be a 3-day concert, it was extended into the fourth day.

  • When: August 15-18, 1969
  • Audience: Over 400,000
  • Acts: 32 Acts Were Performed
  • Listed: On the National Register Of Historic Places

It is considered a pivotal moment in popular music history and iconic of the counterculture generation. Many of the most famous music bands of the time came to perform at the event (although others like the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, and Led Zepplin declined).

The event was meant to have an entry fee, but organizers gave up selling tickets after the gates were stormed by the sheer number of attendees. It was so popular that people were turned away by the police. Even the New York State Thruway was reportedly closed down at one point, although some have said that the road was never closed. This massive influx of music goers created a massive traffic jam on the roads not designed for this.

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The facilities were not equipped to provide sanitation or first aid to so many people - problems made worse by the recent rains making the roads and fields muddy. At one point the New York Governor was thinking of ordering 10,000 National Guard troops to the festival, but this never happened.

Much More Than Cartman's Tree Hugging Hippies

While the event has become known for rock n' roll, and all manner of ruckus, it was much more than that. The event was also a testament to how half a million people could get together and just have fun and music. It showed how the counterculture had grown and repelled against the accepted norms.

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It should be remembered that the backdrop of Woodstock was the Vietnam War. As the guns of war fired across the seas, the Summer of Love was blooming back home in the United States. It was a powerful movement for peace - Eric Cartman quotes aside.

Woodstock was the event that culminated after a decade of radical transformation. The conservative (and arguably stifling) the Fifties had given way to the hippies of the Sixties and the result was Woodstock.

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Bethel Woods Art Center

Today the stewards for the historic site are Bethel Woods which opened in 2008. At the Bethel Woods Museum, one can relive the past and the journey that brought the world to Woodstock. Hear the echo of 450,000 people chanting "no rain" and read about the stories of those who were there.

As of the time of writing the museum is open at 25% capacity. Their opening schedule varies and their hours after October are not published on their website. The hours for October 2021 are:

  • Hours: 10 am to 10 pm
  • Days Open: Every Day, 10 am to 5 pm: Standard Pricing Includes The Main Exhibit and Special Exhibit
  • After 5 pm: $5 Per Person (Main Exhibit Only) With a Valid PEACE, LOVE & PUMPKINS ticket
  • Cafe Hours: 10:30 AM – 2:30 PM; 5:30 PM – 9 PM

One will be inspired at the museum by the most prolific three-day festival in history through their artifacts, films, music, and even a hippie bus.

  • Cost Of Entry (Online/In-Person): Adults: $117/$19.60 | Seniors: (65+): $15/$17 | Youth: (6-18): $8/$10 | Children: 5 & Under: Free

It is recommended to purchase tickets in advance. Also, these are not timed tickets - only for a particular date, so one can enter anytime on that date.

More Than A Museum

The Bethel Arts Center has many events (including tours, auctions, and music performances), see their website for what's scheduled. They are only located 90 miles out of New York City on a lush 800-acre campus.

They boast their Pavilion Stage amphitheater that has seating for some 15,000 attendees. Additionally, they have a 440-seat indoor Event Gallery and a Conservatory for creative learning programs. They host culturally rich performances, popular artists, and educational programs every year (though they may be limited in the current pandemic).

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