JazzTrax Festival

Catalina Island's Casino Building
Geoff/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

The JazzTrax Festival draws visitors from all over the country who come to see an impressive lineup of Grammy Award winners and Billboard magazine chart-toppers. New stars also debut at the festival, and stars like Flamenco guitarist Jesse Cook attribute their career's turning point to the JazzTrax Festival.

Likes and Dislikes

Jazztrax is popular with jazz music fans all over the country and sometimes around the world.

This event has its pluses and minuses. The outdoor concerts are especially pleasant, but some of the main performers can be a bit self-absorbed, more concerned with themselves than their audience. A quick look at their concert reviews may help you identify people who put on the best show.

No matter who's playing, the ballroom is beautiful, but the seating can be less than comfortable.

The Venues and Crowd Factor

Unplugged concerts are held outdoors at the Descanso Beach on Thursday nights. Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening performances are in the 1929 Avalon Ballroom.

Both venues offer enough ample room.

Tips

  • Check the lineup on the Jazztrax website to pick a weekend to attend.
  • You'll need to stay overnight on the island. Reserve early before they sell out. Use the guide to Catalina lodging to find a place to stay.
  • If you can't make it to Catalina - or you want to hear performances from concerts you can't attend - you can listen to the JazzTrax broadcasts online.
  • Besides the concerts, you can attend after-concert parties at Descanso Beach
  • Take a warm jacket if you go to the unplugged concert - and a small flashlight to help see your footing on the way back to the bus afterward.

    Tickets and Reservations

    Buy your tickets online or call 866-872-9849.

    The Basics

    • Held over two weekends in October
    • Events take place in and around Avalon on Catalina Island
    • JazzTrax Festival website
    • Reservations highly recommended. It's too far to go to risk not getting in.

    How to Get There

    Catalina Island can be reached from several locations on the mainland. Most people go by ferry boat, but you can also take a helicopter ride, which is quicker (but more expensive).