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Memorial Day Weekend at the Atlanta Jazz Festival

Memorial Day Weekend at the Atlanta Jazz Festival

Early afternoon at the Atlanta Jazz Festival

Early afternoon at the Atlanta Jazz Festival

I had the privilege of attending the Atlanta Jazz Festival, over the Memorial Day Weekend.  By far this is the best set up of any festival I have ever been to!  Last year my Sister called me when she returned from the Atlanta Jazz Festival.  She said, “William (my Sister calls me William) you have to come!”. “ It was so nice.  We did the VIP and we had our own private bathrooms, a meal, and drinks and it was all under a tent”. “ William, you and Nicole have to come next year.”  My sister, Dee, does not often rave about things unless they are really nice.  It takes a lot to impress my Sister.

Night at the Atlanta Jazz Festival

Night at the Atlanta Jazz Festival

Festival Setup
Vendors at the Atlanta Jazz Festival

Vendors at the Atlanta Jazz Festival

The Atlanta Jazz Festival was started in 1978 by then Mayor Maynard Jackson.  The Festival brings together Jazz lovers from not just Atlanta but all over the region.  When most Black People think of Atlanta they think of Rap and Hip Hop, however, Mayor Jackson had foresight and vision.  Jackson chose jazz because he said, “Jazz music is America’s only original art form, and…Atlanta, with its growing reputation as an international center of the arts and education, has both the opportunity and the responsibility to promote an art form whose roots are indigenous to the South.”

40 Years of History

Well, here we are 40 years later and the Jazz Festival is still going strong.  One of the things that is different about this Jazz Festival is that it is FREE!!!!  That’s right they do not charge to get into the Jazz Festival.  You can also bring food and beverages including adult beverages. The City of Atlanta brings in the top jazz performers.  The festival has hosted the great legends of jazz such as Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Lionel Hampton and Wynton Marsalis just to name a few for the festival and it is FREE to the general public.  People come and bring blankets, chairs even tents.

The festival was held at Piedmont Park.  A park easily accessible by car, bus or Marta.  The Atlanta Jazz Festival had 3 stages, vendors who sell a wide variety of foods and drinks as well as vendors selling merchandise not to be found anywhere else.  The park is large enough to fit 25-30 thousand people without a problem.  The festival is spread out but the sound system is so good that you can hear well from all locations.  The park also has plenty of trees that provide shade.

BMW VIP Tent

Amy, Dee & Bill at the Atlanta Jazz Festival

Amy, Dee & Bill at the Atlanta Jazz Festival

Our experience with the BMW VIP Tent was nice.  The VIP tent sat off to the side about 100 yards away, with a full view of the main stage.  The entire area had a beautiful white picket fence around it.   Both covered and uncovered areas were available.  The uncovered area had tables with umbrellas.  The covered area had large round tables that seated 8 people each.  There was a cooling station with a large fan that misted water and cooled the area like an outdoor air conditioner.  

The VIP area also had its own bar.  The drinks were reasonably priced $2 for soft drinks,  $3 beer,  $4 wine and mixed drinks.  The interesting thing is that you could bring your own cooler with your own drinks and food. Snacks were provided like chips, nuts, and popcorn.  There was also fresh fruit and healthy snacks for those who were more health conscious.

VIP Bathrooms

The star of the VIP had to be the bathrooms.  There was a bathroom trailer that was indoor.  It had running water, multiple stalls and it was air conditioned.  The best thing was that they had someone assigned to keep it clean!   We paid $40 to stay in the VIP area.   A clean, well-lit, air-conditioned bathroom is priceless!  Amy from West Palm Beach, FL said, “Loved the VIP section, which included a bar and snacks.”  Onekia from Corpus Christi, TX said, “I liked that it (The Atlanta Jazz Festival) was organized and comfortable.  The VIP Bathroom was a major plus.”

VIP Bathrooms

VIP Bathrooms

The Festival

We listened to the Jazz performers.  Held pleasant conversations and met lots of interesting people.  It is always nice to go someplace with a large number of Black People.  People watching was great as well.  The different outfits, the many hairstyles Black People display is always eye catching.  Although the parade of shoes was definitely a topic of many conversations.   

Memorial Day Weekend I had the privilege of attending the Atlanta Jazz Festival.  This is the best set up of any festival that I have ever attended.  Last year my Sister called me to tell me about what a great event this was.  Now I am telling all of you.  Check out the Atlanta Jazz Festival next Memorial Day Weekend.  Hopefully, I will see you in the VIP section!

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Bill Collins

Bill Collins is a former Army Officer turned veteran traveler. I have traveled to 28 different Countries mainly concentrated in the Central & Latin America and have spent the last 16 years exploring the Caribbean Islands.

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