Jazz fans, you have a rare opportunity, but you need to act quickly. The 51st Monterey Jazz Festival, sponsored by Verizon, tickets are on sale now. The festival takes place September 19-21st this year, at the Monterey County Fairgrounds. Grounds tickets to view any of the artists appearing at the 7 festival grounds venues are available for all three days, but that’s not unusual for mid-July. The opportunity is tickets for the arena shows are still available. That is very unusual; six weeks after the tickets went on sale to the public.
Festival subscriber (anyone who purchased arena tickets last year) ticket sales open each year around March 30th. They have until May 31st to renew or upgrade their arena packages. Missing the deadline by just a day means losing your seats, and having to start over again in the back of the arena, in the bleacher seats. Normally, the small pool of available arena seats is gone by late June.
Prime arena package seats are extraordinarily valuable. They are hotly contested settlement items in divorce cases, and frequently show up in wills and trusts. No, I’m not joking. Each year, you have the opportunity to upgrade your seats, but only if someone else has vacated theirs. We’ve been very lucky, and have progressed to a great set of seats, along the side of the arena, with a great view of the stage.
With a grounds package, you have access to all the festival grounds venues. The shows are continuous in the grounds venues from 6:00pm – 11:30pm Friday, Noon to 11:30pm Saturday, and Noon to 11:00pm on Sunday. There is no in-and-out access to the festival grounds. If you leave, you cannot come back in without another ticket. However, once on the grounds, there is more than enough activities, food, beverages, and shopping, to keep you going all day long.
The arena packages also allow access to all the grounds venues. The added plus is access to the arena programs. The shows on the Jimmy Lyons Stage in the arena feature the headliners of the festival. Many of these artists also play sets in the grounds venues. The package consists of tickets for 5 shows: Friday evening, Saturday afternoon, Saturday evening, Sunday afternoon, and Sunday evening. The biggest hidden advantage is, since you have separate tickets for each show, you can actually leave the grounds during the break between the afternoon, and evening shows.
The lineup for this year is outstanding. Last year’s 50th lineup was a celebration of 50 years of phenomenal performances. Several artists who performed at the very first MJF were on hand for the event. This year’s lineup is intent on launching the next 50 years in fine fashion. Bassist Christian McBride, this year’s artist-in-residence, is featured in a number of different ensembles. Headliners include Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Christian McBride, Nancy Wilson, Cassandra Wilson, and many more. Act quickly to be a part of the next 50 years of one-of-a-kind performances. For details go to: www.montereyjazzfestival.com.