Detroit Jazz Festival returns Labor Day weekend with in-person audiences

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

It's back.

The beloved Detroit Jazz Festival, the world's largest free jazz festival, returns Labor Day weekend with an in-person format that will include a revised footprint with three stages in downtown Hart Plaza and Campus Martius. Organizers, who said there will be some COVID protocols in place, made the announcement Thursday.

"We are thrilled to bring back in-person live audiences to the Detroit Jazz Festival,” said Chris Collins, president and artistic director of the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation. “With the strong support of city officials, we devised a festival plan that incorporates safety measures and acknowledges the ongoing concerns some jazz patrons may have for attending outdoor events during the pandemic."

This year's festival, which runs through Sept. 6, marks a return to an in-person format after the festival was held virtually last year. Live performances were streamed from soundstages at the Detroit Marriott.

Artist-in-residence Dee Dee Bridgewater is one of the headliners at this year's Detroit Jazz Festival.

There will be some COVID protocols in place. The revised footprint means there will be more open space for audiences to socially distance from one another. Signage also will be in place throughout the festival to encourage health and safety practices. And there will be more video screens to help spread out crowds during performances.

Hand sanitizing stations also will be placed throughout the downtown stages.

Headliners this year, which marks the Jazz Festival's 42nd year, include Artist-in-Residence Dee Dee Bridgewater. She'll headline multiple performances during the festival including an opening set with protégé group, the Woodshed Network Ladies, and a closing night performance with her all-female big band.  Other performers include Herbie Hancock, Gregory Porter, Keyon Harrold, Omar Sosa and the Havana-Detroit Jazz Project; and Kurt Elling’s Big Blind.

The Jazz Festival is free and open to the public. VIP ticket sales will be available shortly. Go to