I have been to several of the smooth jazz festivals held in the Phoenix area. Here are a few observations that I hope will be useful to people attending the festival for the first time.
Ten Things To Know Before You Go
- The Arizona Jazz Festival brings nationally and internationally acclaimed smooth jazz performers to the Valley. If you enjoy this kind of music, you will feel like you are in 'smooth-jazz-Disneyland' here. You will not be disappointed.
- The festivals are multi-day affairs, and smooth jazz lovers will find it difficult to pick one day over the other. None of the musicians perform on both days. If you can, try to attend on all days. Without a high quality smooth jazz radio station in the Phoenix area any longer, this might be the only way to get your semi-annual smooth jazz fix!
- In 2012 the venue was moved from the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort's Sage Amphitheatre in North Phoenix to The Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park. While Sage Court is a lovely venue for outdoor concerts, it was fairly cramped for this event. The Wigwam lawn affords it more space and room for future expansion. Stage views are good from all seats.
- Another thing I liked about The Wigwam as the venue is that there was more room to get up and stretch your legs. I also appreciated that I didn't have to traipse through the resort itself to get to the venue. Of course, if you want to go into the resort to eat or sit in the lounge it is nearby. I'd make reservations for dinner, if that's what you have in mind.
- People traveling to the Arizona Jazz Festival or locals attending both days should consider a concert package at the hotel. Unlike Desert Ridge, where there were many rooms with balcony views of the stage, here there are only a few casitas at the festival site. Having a room is very convenient, especially if the weather is a factor or if you want to take nap or change clothes during the day!
- About that weather -- I have been to three festivals so far. The first time it rained. The second time I went during the day and it was over 100°F. The third time I attended it was cold and windy and people wore hats and scarves and mittens. April weather, at least on Arizona Jazz festival weekend, can be uncooperative. This is a rain or shine event. Be prepared!
- Parking is free. You can park in the resort parking areas or on the street on Wigwam Blvd. which is close to the front lawn where the festival takes place. Bring whatever you might need in the car: jackets, gloves, blankets, seat pads, sunscreen, hats, rain ponchos, personal fans -- you get the picture. Re-entry is permitted so you can always go to the car and get anything that will make it a comfortable experience for you. If it is hot and sunny during the day, be aware that there is little shade here unless you purchased cabana style seating.
- The seats are not especially comfortable, being of the plastic folding chair variety. If you are spending many hours here, seat pads or blankets for your seats might be advisable.
- All of the artists performing will be selling their music here, and most of them will autograph your CD for you.
- Reasonably priced food and beverages are available right at the festival without going into the resort. Bring cash.
Page 1: Dates, Tickets, Details
Page 2: My Tips for Attending the Arizona Jazz Festival
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