‘Glad to be alive:’ Downtown Jacksonville buzzing ahead of annual Jazz Festival

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Thursday night marks the start of the annual Jacksonville Jazz Festival, with a variety of food, drinks, and of course, some great jazz music with riverfront views. The free-of-cost festival has been a major attraction in Jacksonville for over 40 years now and is stacked with big name talent this year, including the likes of Chaka Khan, Charlie Wilson and more.


The festival kicks off Thursday night with a piano competition at the Florida Theatre, also free of charge.

Action News Jax had the chance talk to a few people already planning on heading to the festival this weekend, and the excitement is already building for the music, and everything else this major Jacksonville event has to offer.

Read: The Jacksonville Jazz Festival returns to Downtown Jacksonville

“You feel, like, glad to be alive,” said Sharon Harvey on Thursday afternoon. “Glad to be able to view this, be out there in the middle of it, feeling all the vibes.”

Meanwhile, downtown businesses also reap the benefits, as Dana Charlton, a chef with Wildkat Records Bar & Grill, says the restaurant is expecting a busy weekend ahead.

“We are prepping up a storm. I’m starting to a little bit today so we can get ahead of the wave I guess,” Charlton explained. “We’re expecting a bunch of people down here.”

The festival runs 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, with hours of 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Sunday night.

Those planning on attending the festival should also be aware of the road and parking closures listed below:

Road closures and restricted street access will begin on Monday, May 22nd and continue through Tuesday, May 30th.

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Important operational information about this year’s Festival:

This year’s Jacksonville Jazz Festival is cashless. Guests may use all major debit and credit cards, mobile and tap to pay for onsite purchases. Cash payments will not be accepted.

Dedicated secured entry points will be at the following locations:

  • Water St. at the corner of Hogan St.
  • Independent Dr. next to the VyStar Building, east of Hogan St. and west of Laura St.
  • Laura St. south of Bay St.
  • Boat and Water Taxi dock at Riverfront Plaza
  • Newnan St. at Independent Dr. next to the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront
  • Between Newnan St. and Market St. along Bay St.

For street closure information, check out the story below.

Read: List: Jacksonville Jazz Festival road closures and parking suspensions

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