Atlanta Jazz Festival 2019: What You Need to Know About City’s 40-Year-Old Tradition

The Atlanta Jazz Festival takes place in Piedmont Park and spans two days on Memorial Day Weekend. The free event, which was established in 1977, allows patrons to not only soak in performances from jazz legends and emerging artists, but provides other forms of entertainment, too. Vendors will be on hand showing some of the finest arts and crafts Atlanta has to offer as well as hawking food, drinks and merchandise.

atlanta jazz festival
Saxophonist Tia Fuller performs on stage during the 2018 Atlanta Jazz Festival at Piedmont Park on May 26, 2018, in Atlanta. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

Free to Attend

The festival will feature two jam-packed days of events: Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26. As has been the case for the last four-plus decades, admission to the performances is free.

Day 1 Saturday, May 25

There are three different stages set up for festival-goers to take in various sounds in various areas of Piedmont Park. Saturday’s show also includes Late Night Jazz Jam featuring Lil’ John Roberts and the Senators at the Park Tavern at 11 p.m.

Park Drive Stage:
12:30 p.m. Avery Dixon, Saxophone Extraordinaire
2:30 p.m. Joel Ross ‘Good Vibes’
4:30 p.m. Christian Sands
6:30 p.m. Makaya McCraven

Oak Hill Stage:
1:30 p.m. Ofer Assaf Quartet
3:30 p.m. Delfeayo Marsalis
5:30 p.m. Takuya Kuroda
7:30 p.m. Richard Bona

Meadow Stage:
1 p.m. Alicia Olatuja
3 p.m. Stefon Harris + Blackout
5 p.m. Rhonda Ross & Rodney Kendrick
7 p.m. Marcus Strickland ‘Twi-Life’ feat. Pharoahe Monche
9 p.m. Lizz Wright

Day 2 Sunday, May 26

Park Drive Stage:
12:30 p.m. Rialto Jazz for Kids
2:30 p.m. Nicole Banks Long
4:30 p.m. Slim Gambill
6:30 p.m. Michael Mayo

Oak Hill Stage:
1:30 p.m. The Kenny Banks Jr. Trio
3:30 p.m. OKCello
5:30 p.m Freelance
7:30 p.m. Kandace Springs

Meadow Stage:
1 p.m. The Milkshake Quintet
3 p.m. Alex Lattimore
5 p.m. Gary Motley
7 p.m. Rhonda Thomas
9 p.m. The Royal Krunk Jazz Orkestra

Vodka & Vegan Lounge

Patrons have the option of relaxing in the Vodka & Vegan Lounge on both days of the festival. However, tickets, which can be found here, must be purchased to partake.

Separate Saturday and Sunday tickets are $100, excluding fees. Tickets for the lounge on both days may also be purchased for $175, excluding fees.

From 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. each day, visitors can enjoy one vegan meal from burger joint Slutty Vegan on Saturday or fast food eatery Local Green Atlanta on Sunday. Two vodka cocktails are included as well as all-day access to the VIP seating at the Oak Hill Stage and access to private restrooms.

Other Ways to Get a Taste of Jazz

The actual jazz festival takes place over the course of Memorial Day weekend, but there are plenty of events happening in the city leading up to it. A sampling is included below.

Jazz in the Airport Atrium

Throughout the week, various acts will be performing at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Beginning with Monday’s performance by The Uptown Band and the series will conclude for the week on Friday with a performance by Swing Street Jazz. Click here for details.

Jazz in The Sky

At the Colony Square helipad in midtown Atlanta, patrons can soak in live jazz performances from 6 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21.

Tickets are currently sold out, but following @ColonySquare on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram allows potential guests to have chances to win tickets to attend.

Live from Woodruff Park

As part of the 31 Days of Jazz series, Wednesday, May 22 will see Churchill Grounds Quartet and Danny Wytanis perform in Woodruff Park from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The family-friendly event is free to attend.

NBAF Presents Talkin’ All That Jazz: The Jazz and Hip-Hop Fusion Concert

Featuring acclaimed drummer/bandleader Landon Anderson, who has collaborated with Kool & The Gang and Dougie Fresh, the Thursday, May 23, event sees Anderson acting as music director and backing acts including Atlanta Arts Collective, Dres The Beatnik and DJ Kemit and others. Songs from the ’60s through to the ’00s will be included.

The event takes place at City Winery from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets are presently sold out but hopeful attendees can join a waiting list, which can be found here.

For more events happening throughout the week, glimpse the calendar here.

Must Know Items

Not Allowed

Piedmont Park rules stipulate that the following items are prohibited: grills, glass containers, bikes/skates, staking tents, or audible personal radios. Pets are also not allowed at the venue.

How to Get There

There are a variety of ways the festival can be accessed. Piedmont Park is accessible by walking, MARTA or by car. Directions for each mode of transportation can be found online here.

Where to Stay

The recommended hotel is Loews Atlanta Hotel, which is located less than a mile from Piedmont Park, the Atlanta Jazz Festival’s venue.

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