JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Four days. More than a dozen name recording artists performing on two stages. One legend: Gladys Knight.
Local enthusiasts and jazz aficionados from around the world will unite downtown over Memorial Day weekend at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival.
What began three decades ago as the humble Mayport and All That Jazz Festival has grown into one of the largest free jazz festivals in the country, boasting an all-star lineup of jazz legends. Stages at Heming Park and on the sprawling lawn of the Duval County Courthouse will host free concerts Friday night, Saturday and Sunday.
The two stages will anchor a 10-city-block street party with food and drink vendors and a jazz marketplace.
The jazz kicks off Thursday night with the piano competition at the Florida Theatre and continues at other downtown venues, including a jazz clinic by Marcus Johnson at the Ritz Theatre Saturday morning, a second line jazz parade Saturday afternoon forming at the corner of Broad and Adams streets, a jam session Saturday night at the Breezy Jazz Club and a sacred jazz brunch Sunday morning at the Omni Hotel.
While entertainment on the main stages is free, some of the events are ticketed and committed fans can purchase a VIP package to get preferred seating, reserved parking with dinner and drinks provided.
Jazz Fest After Dark will also return this weekend to extend the Jazz Festival experience for festivalgoers. Jazz Fest After Dark features several different downtown venues with more than a dozen acts. Live music will begin at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday at certain locations and run until 1 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, with a special encore from 9 p.m. Sunday to 1 a.m. Monday. Entry is free.
The Jazz Festival will require some street closures late next week. See list for streets affected and times. According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, all major downtown bridges and Main Street will remain open throughout the festival.
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority will operate the Skyway during the 2019 Jacksonville Jazz Festival. Friday hours will be extended until midnight and the service will run from 1 p.m. to midnight Saturday and 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday.
The Hemming Park Skyway Station will bring music fans near the Groovin’ Stage located inside the park, while the Jefferson Skyway Station will bring them just outside the festival zone near the corner of East Bay and Julia streets. In the event of severe weather or Skyway technical issues, the JTA will provide bus services as an alternative.
As always, rides on the Skyway are free during normal operating hours and special events.
Police ask that downtown drivers to be cautious of pedestrians and bicyclists who may be coming and going to the Jazz Fest this weekend.
The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department encourages festivalgoers to hydrate before heading to the Jazz Fest because there will be high temperatures throughout the weekend. There will be crews on scene at the festival in case of an emergency.