A performer at the Monterey Jazz Fest
Courtesy of Monterey Jazz Festival

SEPTEMBER

Monterey Jazz Fest

Enjoy three days of world-class jazz at the lauded Monterey Jazz Festival, which has been called “the grandaddy of jazz events” (the Wall Street Journal ) and “an all-American and global treasure” (JazzTimes magazine). Each year, the September festival features a lineup of top names, newcomers, and favorites—some 500 artists in all—play on eight stages at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, about 70 miles south of San Jose.

A few of the headliners do more than just play one show. Each year, the festival’s Showcase Artist 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, Joshua Redman, Branford Marsalis, and Christian McBride, to name a few.

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 seven Grounds, 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 seven Grounds Stages. For a VIP experience, add the Premier Club pass to any ticket, and you’ll get access to a special air-conditioned lounge, closed-circuit Arena simulcasts, delicious menu options, and a top-shelf bar.

Before going, be sure to download the free Monterey Jazz Festival app (search MJF62) for a customizable schedule of performances, artist bios, map of the fairgrounds, and more.