The largest free jazz festival in the world is in Michigan and it’s this weekend

DETROIT – The largest free jazz festival in the world takes place right here in Michigan and for the first time in two years because of COVID, it’s welcoming back fans.

The Detroit Jazz Festival takes place throughout Downtown Detroit today through Monday, September 5, featuring dozens of local, national and international music artists on multiple stages. And yes, you can watch any musician you want for free. Just show up and explore.

The last two years, fans could still enjoy the festival, but only via livestream. The live music experience is back in full force for 2022.

“We’re back in Downtown Detroit with four continuous stages as always and we expect 325,000 people over the course of the four days,” Chris Collins, President and artistic director of the Jazz Festival told MLive. “We’re also online offering the livestream free to the world. Anyone, anywhere can enjoy the festival. Whether people are watching online or in person, they’ll be part of one of the largest single jazz events.”

Keeping the event free for visitors is no easy task. Four to five million dollars needs to be raised each year to make this event happen.

“It’s about keeping it free, not only now, but into the future,” added Collins. “We’re doing a lot of efforts to build up a strong foundation of the endowment and donor base. We also have incredible sponsors. Rocket Mortgage comes back as our presenting sponsor this year. And our angel of jazz, Gretchen Valade, who has saved the festival when there was not much hope of it continuing some 15 plus years ago. Between all of it, it’s able to continue to be open for everybody, but it’s a big call.”

If you’ve ever been on the fence about exploring the Detroit Jazz Festival, Collins has this to say about the experience.

“I would say get ready because it’s going to be a memorable life experience. The artists will tell you it’s one of the best jazz festival audiences in the world. It’s a very diverse audience and it’s also very family oriented. Everyone is just gathering together. You’ll find someone from London sitting next to someone from Detroit sitting next to someone from Birmingham and they’re all high-fiving even though they’ve never met before because of all the incredible moments happening on stage.”

“This is in the streets of our city, so the city is our backdrop. This isn’t in some park somewhere. The history of jazz in Detroit is ever present. You’re walking from stage to stage with a very friendly and open vibe.”


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