June 24, 2024

Detroit Jazz Festival will be back in person this Labor Day weekend

The world’s largest free jazz festival is back and in person.

After moving to a virtual format in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, the beloved Labor Day weekend tradition returns to downtown Detroit. The event is set to take place across three stages in Hart Plaza and Campus Martius Park, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The four-day event begins Friday, Sept. 3, and lasts through Monday, Sept. 6. Headliners include Artist-In-Residence Dee Dee Bridgewater, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Garrett, Omar Sosa, and the Havana-Detroit Jazz Project.

“We are thrilled to bring back in-person live audiences to the Detroit Jazz Festival,” said Chris Collins, president and artistic director of the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation in a statement to The Detroit News. 

Despite the festivities being safely held in person, Collins said there will still be some COVID-19 safety protocols in place.

“With the strong support of city officials, we devised a festival plan that incorporates safety measures and acknowledges the ongoing concerns some jazz patrons may have for attending outdoor events during the pandemic,” Collins said.

Protocols will include hand sanitizing stations, cash-free payment at vendor booths, signage to promote health and safety practices among audience members, and multiple video screens intended to keep crowds spread out.

In a phone call Thursday with the Detroit Free Press, Collins expressed excitement about the atmosphere of the event now that it will be in-person again in its 42nd year. The 2020 festival was live-streamed from soundstages at the Detroit Marriott.

“I’m so excited for the positive energy of the event,” Collins said. “Anyone who’s been, knows what I’m talking about. There is a palpable, positive energy throughout downtown for those four days, and it’s a beautiful feeling.”

One major draw for audiences is that the festival is free to attend, which Collins says contributes to the uniqueness of the event.

“In keeping the festival free of charge to attend, and breaking down barriers to participation between artists and audience, there’s a real openness that’s then amplified by the outdoor environment and being right in the middle of the actual city,” Collins said, “You feel that urban center; you feel the tradition; and all that comes together in a very special and unique way.”

Fans who are unable to attend in person can still live-stream the event via the Detroit Jazz Fest Live! App. For $20, fans who download the app will receive an annual subscription which allows them to view performances from the Detroit Jazz Festival and other Jazz-Fest sponsored events throughout the year.

The app will have all kinds of information to help users understand exactly who the artists that are performing are. It will describe what kind of jazz they play, who’s playing with them, what their background is, and will list out some of their successes. “Whether you’re new to jazz or you’re an aficionado, we’re working to make sure that the music is accessible for you,” Collins said.

The festival is free and open to the public. VIP tickets start at $125, and are available at www.detroitjazzfest.org.

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