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When Is The Monterey Jazz Festival When Is The Monterey Jazz Festival


When Is The Monterey Jazz Festival

Written by: Mari Tan

Discover the dates and schedule for the renowned Monterey Jazz Festival and immerse yourself in the world of jazz with performances by top artists and an electric atmosphere. Don't miss this incredible celebration of jazz music.

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Table of Contents


Welcome to the world of jazz, where melodies blend, rhythms groove, and improvisation takes center stage. And when it comes to celebrating the rich history and incredible talent of this genre, there’s no place quite like the Monterey Jazz Festival. Held annually in picturesque Monterey, California, this iconic festival has been entertaining and inspiring jazz lovers from around the world for over six decades.

Since its inception in 1958, the Monterey Jazz Festival has become one of the longest-running and most prestigious jazz events in existence. It has not only showcased legendary figures of jazz but has also served as a launching pad for emerging artists, ensuring the continued growth and evolution of the genre.

The festival is more than just a series of performances; it’s a celebration of the jazz community and its diverse voices. It provides a platform for musicians, enthusiasts, and educators to come together, exchange ideas, and foster a deeper understanding and appreciation for this truly American art form.

What sets the Monterey Jazz Festival apart is its commitment to preserving the historical legacy of jazz while also embracing the cutting-edge sounds of contemporary jazz. The lineup features a dynamic blend of renowned artists, emerging talents, and cross-genre collaborations, guaranteeing an unforgettable experience for attendees of all ages and musical tastes.

Whether you’re a seasoned jazz aficionado or new to the genre, the Monterey Jazz Festival offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the captivating world of jazz. From intimate club settings to open-air stages, every performance is packed with energy, creativity, and the unmistakable spirit of improvisation.

So, mark your calendars and get ready to be swept away by the sounds of trumpets, saxophones, pianos, and drums. The Monterey Jazz Festival is a must-attend event for any lover of music and an experience that will leave you longing for more.


History of the Monterey Jazz Festival

The Monterey Jazz Festival has a rich and storied history that dates back to its inaugural event in 1958. Inspired by the success of the Newport Jazz Festival, a group of jazz enthusiasts and community leaders in Monterey, California, decided to create their own festival to celebrate the genre and bring renowned jazz musicians to the area.

Under the leadership of Jimmy Lyons, a local radio announcer and jazz enthusiast, the first Monterey Jazz Festival came to life. Held at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, the festival was a three-day extravaganza featuring some of the biggest names in jazz, including Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, and Billie Holiday.

The inaugural festival was a resounding success, attracting jazz fans from near and far. The audience was treated to electrifying performances that showcased the diverse styles and talents of the era’s most influential jazz musicians. The Monterey Jazz Festival quickly established itself as a premier event, setting the stage for its continued success in the years to come.

Over the decades, the Monterey Jazz Festival has welcomed countless jazz legends to its stages. From the smooth melodies of Ella Fitzgerald and the soulful sounds of Miles Davis to the innovative stylings of Thelonious Monk and the Latin-infused rhythms of Tito Puente, the festival has showcased the full spectrum of jazz genres and subgenres.

In addition to its impressive lineup, the Monterey Jazz Festival has been at the forefront of groundbreaking performances and collaborations. In 1965, Duke Ellington teamed up with his long-time musical collaborator, Charles Mingus, for a historic performance that captivated audiences. The festival also played host to the iconic jazz-rock fusion group, Weather Report, featuring Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter, in 1972.

Beyond the music, the festival has also been a platform for social change. In 1960, amidst racial tensions and segregation, the Monterey Jazz Festival became one of the first major music events in the United States to feature an integrated audience, a testament to its commitment to diversity and equality.

Today, the Monterey Jazz Festival continues to honor its rich history while embracing the evolution of jazz. It has expanded beyond the main stage performances to include workshops, jam sessions, and educational programs that inspire the next generation of jazz musicians.

The legacy of the Monterey Jazz Festival is a testament to the enduring power and influence of jazz. Each year, it creates a space for artists and fans to connect, explore new sounds, and celebrate the vibrant spirit of this truly American art form.


Lineup and Performers

The Monterey Jazz Festival never disappoints when it comes to assembling an impressive lineup of world-class musicians from the jazz world and beyond. Year after year, the festival curates a diverse roster of performers, showcasing the depth and breadth of the genre.

From jazz legends who have shaped the history of the genre to the brightest up-and-coming stars, the Monterey Jazz Festival offers something for every jazz enthusiast. The lineup is carefully curated to feature a mix of established artists, emerging talents, and exciting cross-genre collaborations.

Attendees can expect to see acclaimed jazz artists spanning various subgenres, including traditional jazz, bebop, fusion, Latin jazz, and more. Whether you’re a fan of the spirited improvisation of saxophonists like Sonny Rollins and Kamasi Washington or the soulful melodies of vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald and Gregory Porter, the festival has it all.

In addition to jazz luminaries, the festival often features special guest performers from other genres, adding an extra layer of excitement and diversity to the lineup. Past collaborations have included musicians such as Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, and even rock icons like Carlos Santana.

This blending of musical styles and genres is what makes the Monterey Jazz Festival so unique and appealing to a wide range of audiences. It not only showcases the evolution of jazz but also fosters collaboration and innovation among artists.

Furthermore, the festival often features a dedicated stage or series of performances dedicated to spotlighting emerging artists – those who are pushing the boundaries and redefining what jazz means in the modern era. This provides a platform for the next generation of jazz musicians to showcase their talent and potentially launch their careers.

With multiple stages and performances happening simultaneously throughout the festival, attendees have the opportunity to create their own personalized lineup, choosing to immerse themselves in a specific subgenre or explore a diverse range of performances.

Whether you’re a die-hard fan of traditional jazz or someone looking to explore the boundaries of the genre, the Monterey Jazz Festival offers a lineup that is sure to satisfy your musical cravings and leave you in awe of the incredible talent on display.


Venues and Schedule

The Monterey Jazz Festival takes place at the scenic Monterey County Fairgrounds, providing a picturesque backdrop for the performances. The festival spans three days, with multiple stages and venues hosting simultaneous performances to ensure a jam-packed schedule that caters to all musical preferences.

One of the main stages is the Jimmy Lyons Stage, named in honor of the festival’s founder. This stage is where many of the headlining acts and iconic jazz performers take the spotlight. With its large seating capacity and state-of-the-art sound system, attendees can enjoy an immersive and unforgettable experience.

Another beloved performance space is the Garden Stage, an outdoor venue that offers a more intimate setting. Surrounded by lush greenery and beautiful landscapes, the Garden Stage provides a unique and relaxed atmosphere for attendees to fully immerse themselves in the music.

In addition to these primary stages, the festival features several smaller venues and pop-up performance spaces throughout the fairgrounds. These smaller stages provide opportunities for emerging artists, local jazz ensembles, and jam sessions that offer a more spontaneous and interactive experience for both musicians and attendees.

The schedule is carefully crafted to ensure a seamless flow of performances and to minimize overlap between artists, allowing attendees to fully enjoy each act without missing out on other exciting performances. The festival typically starts in the afternoon and continues late into the evening, offering plenty of opportunities to catch all your favorite artists.

It’s worth noting that the Monterey Jazz Festival is not limited to just the fairgrounds. In the days leading up to the festival weekend, there are often pre-festival events, including concerts and jam sessions held in various venues in and around Monterey. These events allow attendees to get a taste of the festival’s atmosphere and music before the official kickoff.

With its diverse array of venues and carefully curated schedule, the Monterey Jazz Festival ensures that jazz enthusiasts can fully immerse themselves in the music, exploring new sounds and styles while enjoying the beautiful surroundings of the fairgrounds.


Tickets and Pricing

Attending the Monterey Jazz Festival is an experience like no other, and securing your tickets is the first step towards immersing yourself in the mesmerizing world of jazz. The festival offers various ticket options to accommodate different preferences and budgets.

General admission tickets provide access to all the stages and performances at the Monterey County Fairgrounds for the entire festival weekend. These tickets are a popular choice for attendees who want to explore all the offerings and enjoy a wide range of musical performances.

If you’re looking for a more premium experience, the festival offers reserved seating options. These tickets grant you access to exclusive areas with designated seats, ensuring prime views of the main stages, and providing a more comfortable and intimate setting to enjoy the performances.

In addition to single-day tickets, multi-day passes are also available for those who want to maximize their festival experience. These passes allow you to attend the festival for multiple days, immersing yourself in the rich tapestry of jazz and enjoying a broader spectrum of performances.

As for pricing, ticket costs vary depending on the type of ticket and seating option you choose, as well as whether you opt for general admission or a reserved seating package. Pricing is typically announced well in advance of the festival and may also depend on factors such as early-bird discounts or special promotions.

It’s important to note that ticket availability for the Monterey Jazz Festival can be limited due to the festival’s popularity. Therefore, it is advisable to purchase your tickets in advance to secure your spot and ensure you don’t miss out on this incredible musical experience.

In addition to the regular festival tickets, the Monterey Jazz Festival also offers special discounted rates for students, seniors, and military personnel, making the festival more accessible to a wider audience.

To purchase tickets, you can visit the official Monterey Jazz Festival website, where you will find detailed information about ticket options, pricing, and availability. The website also provides a hassle-free online ticketing system, making it convenient to secure your tickets with just a few clicks.

Attending the Monterey Jazz Festival is not just a concert experience; it’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the magic of jazz, connect with fellow music enthusiasts, and create lifelong memories. So don’t miss your chance to be part of this extraordinary celebration of jazz music.


Special Events and Workshops

The Monterey Jazz Festival is not just about incredible performances; it also offers a wide range of special events and workshops that enrich the overall festival experience. These events provide unique opportunities for attendees to engage with the artists, learn about the history and techniques of jazz, and even showcase their own musical talents.

One of the highlights of the festival is the Artist-in-Residence program. Each year, a renowned jazz musician is selected as the Artist-in-Residence, and they are given the opportunity to curate their own performances and collaborate with other festival artists. This program allows attendees to witness special performances and witness the creative process unfold in real-time.

The festival also hosts a series of intimate interviews and panel discussions called Conversations on Creativity. Here, artists share their thoughts, insights, and personal experiences, providing valuable insights into the world of jazz and the creative process behind their music. These sessions offer a unique chance to gain a deeper understanding of the artists and their inspirations.

For those interested in immersing themselves in hands-on learning, the festival offers various workshops and educational programs. These workshops cover a wide range of topics, including instrument technique, improvisation, composition, and jazz history. Led by esteemed jazz musicians and educators, these workshops provide valuable learning opportunities for aspiring musicians of all ages and skill levels.

In addition to workshops, the festival also presents masterclasses by accomplished musicians. These masterclasses offer a unique opportunity to observe and learn from some of the most respected figures in the jazz world. Participants have the chance to witness the artistic process up-close, asking questions, and gaining insights that can further enhance their own musical journeys.

One of the highlights of the festival’s educational offerings is the Next Generation Jazz Festival. This event showcases the talents of young jazz musicians from around the country. It features performances, competitions, and workshops specifically designed to foster the growth and development of the next generation of jazz artists. Attending this event allows festivalgoers to witness the sheer talent and passion of these young musicians as they take the stage.

These special events and workshops are integral to the Monterey Jazz Festival experience, as they provide a holistic and immersive approach to jazz music. Whether you’re a seasoned musician looking to refine your skills or a curious listener eager to learn more about jazz, these events and workshops offer something for everyone.

Attending the Monterey Jazz Festival goes beyond witnessing incredible performances; it’s an opportunity to engage, learn, and be a part of the vibrant jazz community. So make sure to check the festival schedule for these special events and workshops, and make the most of your experience at this iconic jazz celebration.


Food and Beverages

At the Monterey Jazz Festival, the celebration of jazz is not limited to the music; it extends to the culinary delights available throughout the festival grounds. From satisfying meals to refreshing beverages, there is a wide variety of options to keep festivalgoers energized and satisfied.

The fairgrounds host numerous food vendors and booths offering a diverse selection of cuisine to cater to all tastes. Whether you’re in the mood for classic festival fare like burgers, hot dogs, and nachos or you’re looking to explore more adventurous options, there is something for everyone. Expect to find a range of culinary delights, including international cuisine, seafood, vegetarian and vegan options, and decadent desserts.

Alongside the food, the festival boasts an impressive selection of beverages to quench your thirst. In addition to the traditional offerings like soda and water, various beer gardens and wine bars are scattered throughout the fairgrounds, offering an assortment of craft beers, locally produced wines, and artisanal cocktails. Raise a glass and toast to the spirit of jazz while enjoying your favorite libation.

One unique feature of the Monterey Jazz Festival is the emphasis on sustainability and eco-conscious practices. The festival organizers prioritize the use of compostable and recyclable materials, reducing waste and being mindful of the environmental impact. This commitment to eco-friendly practices extends to the food vendors, encouraging them to use locally sourced and organic ingredients wherever possible.

While enjoying the food and beverages, attendees also have the option to relax and dine in dedicated seating areas or on the grassy lawns while listening to the music. This provides a perfect opportunity to savor your meal while basking in the incredible atmosphere and sounds of live jazz.

It’s important to note that some food and beverage options may require additional payment, so it’s a good idea to bring some cash or a debit card for convenience. Additionally, lines for popular food vendors and beverage stations can be quite long during peak times, so it’s advisable to plan accordingly and allow enough time to grab a bite or a drink between performances.

Whether you’re a foodie looking to explore culinary delights or simply in need of sustenance to keep you going throughout the festival, the food and beverage offerings at the Monterey Jazz Festival are sure to satisfy your cravings. So come hungry, explore the diverse options available, and indulge in the gastronomic delights while immersing yourself in the world of jazz.


Accommodations and Transportation

As you plan your visit to the Monterey Jazz Festival, it’s important to consider your accommodations and transportation arrangements to ensure a seamless and enjoyable experience.

Monterey offers a range of accommodation options to suit every preference and budget. From luxurious hotels and resorts to cozy bed and breakfasts, there are plenty of choices available to provide a comfortable stay during the festival. It’s recommended to book your accommodations in advance as the festival attracts a large number of attendees, and rooms can fill up quickly.

If you prefer a more budget-friendly option or a communal atmosphere, there are also hostels and vacation rentals available nearby. These options allow you to save money while still ensuring a comfortable and convenient place to rest during your festival experience.

Once you have secured your accommodations, the next consideration is transportation. The Monterey County Fairgrounds has ample parking available, but it can get crowded during peak festival hours. If you plan to drive, it’s advisable to arrive early to secure a parking spot. Additionally, carpooling with fellow festivalgoers can help to reduce congestion and make parking more manageable.

For those who prefer to leave the car behind, public transportation is a convenient and eco-friendly option. Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) operates bus services that connect the fairgrounds to various locations within Monterey County. Be sure to check the bus schedules in advance to ensure you don’t miss any performances.

Another popular transportation option is cycling. Monterey is known for its bike-friendly streets and scenic bike paths, making it a great way to get around and explore the area while minimizing traffic and parking challenges. Some accommodations even offer bike rentals, allowing you to easily bike to and from the festival grounds.

If you’re arriving from a far distance, you may choose to fly into one of the nearby airports. The Monterey Regional Airport is the closest option, located only a short drive from the festival grounds. Alternatively, other major airports such as San Francisco International Airport or San Jose International Airport offer a wider range of flight options and are within a few hours’ drive of Monterey. From the airport, you can rent a car or take a shuttle service to reach your accommodations.

Lastly, if you prefer a more immersive experience, you may consider staying within walking distance of the fairgrounds. Monterey offers a range of hotels and accommodations within close proximity to the festival, allowing you to easily walk to and from the performances and other festival activities.

Regardless of your choice of accommodation and transportation, planning ahead and considering your options will ensure a smooth and stress-free experience at the Monterey Jazz Festival. So book your accommodations early, arrange your transportation, and get ready to immerse yourself in the incredible sounds of jazz while enjoying the charm of Monterey.


FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. When is the Monterey Jazz Festival?

The festival is typically held in September. The exact dates may vary from year to year, so it’s best to check the official Monterey Jazz Festival website for the most up-to-date information.

2. Can I bring my own food and drinks to the festival?

Outside food and drinks are not allowed inside the festival grounds. However, there are numerous food and beverage vendors offering a wide variety of options to choose from.

3. Are there age restrictions for attending the festival?

No, all ages are welcome at the Monterey Jazz Festival. However, children under the age of 2 can attend free of charge.

4. Is the festival accessible for individuals with disabilities?

Yes, the Monterey Jazz Festival is committed to providing an inclusive experience for all attendees. The fairgrounds offer accessible pathways, seating areas, and restroom facilities. Additionally, designated parking spaces are available for individuals with disabilities.

5. Are there ATM machines available on-site?

Yes, there are ATM machines located throughout the fairgrounds for your convenience. However, it is advisable to bring some cash or a debit card, as some vendors may not accept credit cards.

6. Are pets allowed at the festival?

With the exception of service animals, pets are not permitted within the festival grounds. It is best to make alternative arrangements for your furry friends during the festival.

7. Can I bring a camera or recording device to capture performances?

Cameras, recording devices, and professional photography equipment are not allowed inside the festival venues. However, small personal cameras and smartphone photography are generally permitted for personal use only.

8. Is there a dress code for the festival?

There is no official dress code for the festival. Attendees typically dress in comfortable and casual attire. You may also want to bring layers as evenings can get cooler near the coast.

9. Can I purchase festival merchandise?

Yes, the Monterey Jazz Festival has a merchandise booth offering a range of festival-related items including t-shirts, hats, posters, and more. It’s a great way to commemorate your festival experience.

10. Can I re-enter the festival if I leave the grounds?

Yes, you are allowed to re-enter the festival as long as you keep your wristband on and show it upon re-entry.

For any additional questions or specific inquiries, it is recommended to visit the official Monterey Jazz Festival website or reach out to their customer service for further assistance.



The Monterey Jazz Festival is a truly extraordinary event that celebrates the artistry, creativity, and soul of jazz music. From its rich history to its diverse lineup of performers, the festival offers an immersive experience for jazz lovers of all backgrounds. Whether you’re a seasoned connoisseur or new to the genre, the festival provides an opportunity to explore the captivating world of jazz and discover new sounds that resonate with your soul.

With its stunning venues, enthusiastic audience, and world-class musicians, the Monterey Jazz Festival creates an electric atmosphere where melodies come alive, rhythms transport you, and improvisation fuels the spirit of collaboration and expression. It is a celebration of the genre’s past, present, and future, with performances by legendary artists and emerging talents alike.

But the festival is more than just music. It fosters a sense of community, bringing together jazz enthusiasts, musicians, and educators from around the world. Through special events, educational programs, and workshops, attendees can deepen their understanding of jazz, connect with like-minded individuals, and be part of the ongoing legacy of this remarkable art form.

While attending the festival, you’ll have the opportunity to indulge in a wide array of culinary delights, experience the beautiful surroundings of Monterey, and create lasting memories in the vibrant and welcoming atmosphere of the fairgrounds.

So mark your calendar, secure your tickets, and get ready to embark on a captivating journey at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Allow yourself to be swept away by the enchanting sounds, immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of jazz, and join a community of music lovers who share the same passion and appreciation for this incredible art form.

As you dive into the mesmerizing world of jazz, the Monterey Jazz Festival promises to be an experience that will leave you inspired, uplifted, and with a renewed love for the power of music. So come, be a part of the magic, and let the jazz melodies ignite your spirit at the Monterey Jazz Festival.

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