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Kingdom Bound returns for 31st year with music, inspiration and laughs

In a month that has seen the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center host packed houses for the likes of Chicago, Nickelback, Foreigner and the Vans Warped Tour, a distinctly different vibe is planned to take over the 20,000-seat outdoor venue from July 26 to 29. The annual Christian music festival Kingdom Bound returns for its 31st year with more than 40 musical acts, speakers and ministries.

Musical acts will take to three stages for the four-day event: the main stage in the amphitheater, the Awaken Stage and Worship Tent. More than 25 acts will perform on the Awaken Stage including Seventh Day Slumber (7 p.m. June 27). The Worship Tent will showcase an additional 15 musical acts including local favorites The Brothers McClurg (9 p.m. July 27 and July 28).

Taking to the main stage for Kingdom Bound 2017 will be a mix of returning favorites and new faces. Danny Gokey, a finalist in Season 8 of "American Idol" will perform at 7 p.m. July 28 in the amphitheater. Gokey followed his success on "American Idol" with five studio albums and two No. 1 singles, including “Hope in Front of Me,” the title track from his 2014 album.

Crossover artist and Dove Award nominee Britt Nicole will take to the main stage at 8:15 p.m. July 28 followed by the evening’s headliners, Tenth Avenue North.

Michael Tait and Newsboys return to Kingdom Bound. (Getty Images)

Topping the lineup on the musical side of the ledger is one of the best-known bands in popular Christian music, Newsboys (9:30 p.m. July 29, amphitheater). Led by lead vocalist Michael Tait, co-founder of DC Talk, the Australian Contemporary Christian quartet has won four Dove Awards and earned four Grammy nominations for its work. The band's latest album, 2016’s “Love Riot,” reached the Top 20 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Christian charts. For Newsboys, Kingdom Bound is becoming a regular stop in its travels with performances in 2003, 2006 and 2015.

As regular attendees of the Christian music festival know, Kingdom Bound is more than just music. A host of Christian speakers will offer words of encouragement over the four days. Among them will be Jill and Erin Kelly (3 p.m. July 27, Worship Tent), who co-authored the book, “Kelly Tough: Living Courageously by Faith.” The wife and daughter of the Hall of Famer Jim Kelly have  written a series of spiritual books, “Hot Chocolate with God,” and are returning to Kingdom Bound to once again share their message of faith in the midst of adversity.

Additional festival speakers include Reggie Dabbs (9 a.m. July 27, noon July 28 and 9 p.m. July 29) and kids’ speaker Carol McLeod (1:30 p.m. daily in the Worship Tent).

Comedian John Crist adds something new to Kingdom Bound.

The festival also adds a new touch with the addition of comedian John Crist, who rose to fame as a viral star before taking his act on the road. Crist will bring his Christian humor to the main stage at 9 p.m. July 26.

Event organizers expect more than 40,000 people to descend upon the performing arts center for the four-day festival. Director Donna Russo offered these words for those considering attending: “Do you know someone who is in need of encouragement or looking for hope? Bring them to Kingdom Bound, where they can hear uplifting worlds and be encouraged to have hope.”

Kingdom Bound Music Festival

July 26-29 at Darien Lake. Tickets are $49-69 or $159 for a four-day pass. Call 633-1117 or visit or

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