Monterey Jazz Fest VCW_D_CC_T11_charles lloyd_MJF49_2006_113(c)Cole Thompson_1280x642
Courtesy of Monterey Jazz Festival

SEPTEMBER

Monterey Jazz Fest

Enjoy three days of world-class jazz at the lauded Monterey Jazz Festival, alleged to be the world’s longest-running jazz fest. Top names, newcomers, and favorites—some 500 artists in all—play on eight stages at the Monterey County Fairgrounds. This year’s headliners—performing September 15-17, as part of the event‘s 60th anniversary—include Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Branford Marsalis, mandolinist Chris Thile, and Hamilton’s Leslie Odom, Jr.  

A few of the headliners do more than just play one show. Each year, the festival’s Showcase Artist—this year, Grammy-nominated violinist Regina Carter—performs several times at the festival, each time showing different styles. The festival’s annual Artists-In-Residence, meanwhile, actually work year-round, helping to pick artists for the festival and participating in affiliated jazz-student clinics and festivals (like the Next Generation Jazz Festival). Past artists-in-residence have included Dizzy Gillespie and John Lewis, and 2017’s artists are drummer Jeff Hamilton and father-and-son duo bassist/composer John Clayton and pianist/composer Gerald Clayton.

Round out your experience by attending a wide range of seminars, panel discussions, and intimate conversations. If you play jazz, be sure to check out clinics and workshops, as well as art exhibits and seminars. There are kids’ events too, and plenty of good food to keep them energized.

There are a few different ways to attend the festival beyond single-day passes. Get a general admission pass for the 7 Grounds Stages, which are spread out over the Monterey County Fairgrounds. Or, buy a Full Weekend Arena package and you’ll lock in the same reserved Arena seat for the weekend’s five shows on the main stage, as well as access to all 7 Grounds Stages. For a VIP experience, add the District 7 Premier Club pass to any ticket, and you’ll get access to a special lounge for meet-and-greets with performing artists, closed-circuit Arena simulcasts, catered farm-to-table cuisine, and tastings of local Monterey wines.