The Jacksonville Jazz Festival is this weekend. Here’s who’s playing and what you need to know.
If there is one thing consistent about the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, it’s change. Over 40 years, it’s been in Mayport, at Metropolitan Park and in the downtown streets. It’s been in the spring and it’s been in the fall. It’s been free and it’s been ticketed. It’s been run by a radio station and it’s been run by the city. Some years, it didn’t happen at all.
This year’s version is Friday, Saturday and Sunday on two outdoor stages along the riverfront in downtown Jacksonville.
Here’s what you need to know.
Where is the 2021 Jacksonville Jazz Festival?
The Jazz Festival will be played on two stages this year. The Swingin’ Stage will be at Riverfront Plaza, where The Jacksonville Landing once stood. The Groovin’ Stage will be at Ford on Bay, a riverfront spot a few blocks away on Bay Street near the Hyatt Regency.
Who is playing at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival?
Some of the biggest names in jazz are scheduled to play. Stanley Clarke has won four Grammy Awards (plus another with his fusion band, Return to Forever). Bob James is equally at home playing jazz or classical music and is best known for writing the theme song from “Taxi.” Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds has written or produced hits for the biggest names in R&B and released 16 Top 10 R&B hits of his own. Jeffrey Osborne was the singer in ’70s R&B hitmakers LTD before embarking on a solo career that’s seen him release 11 Top 10 singles. Najee is one of the most sought-after sax and flute players in the business. Cecile McLorin Salvant has three Grammys for Best Jazz Vocal Album sitting on her shelf. Sheila E, who played the Jazz Festival in 2018, was raised in a jazz family and became a big star in the ’80s while working with Prince.
How much are tickets?
The festival is free, but preferred seating and “VIP Festival Experience Packages” are available for $59-$349.
What are the hours for the festival?
On Friday, the festival is open from 4 to 11 p.m.; music starts at 4:45 p.m. Saturday, it’s open from 2 to 11 p.m., with music starting at 3 p.m. On Sunday, gates are open 2 to 10 p.m. with music starting at 3 p.m.
Gates? What gates?
The festival area will have secured entry points, where bags will be inspected. The entry points will be on Hogan, Laura and Ocean streets, south of Bay Street; on Bay Street between Union and Market streets; at Newnan Street and Independent Drive; and at the Riverfront Plaza docks.
What should I bring with me?
A chair and an umbrella are always good ideas. This year’s festival will be cashless, so be sure to bring credit or debit cards. Things you cannot bring: coolers, tents, grills, alcohol, drinks other than those in a factory-sealed container, picnic and catering meals, weapons, roller skates, skateboards, bicycles, scooters, projectiles, Frisbees, noise-makers, drones and signs bigger than 2-by-3 feet.
What if it rains?
It’s a rain-or-shine event. The stages will be covered but the fan seating areas won’t. In the case of extreme weather, some performances could be rescheduled or canceled.
Where can I park?
There are no designated parking lots for the festival, but downtown garages and street parking will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.