After a virtual celebration last year, the lauded Uptown Jazz Festival will be celebrated live and in-person this year, organizers announced today.

The decision to move forward with an in-person concert comes now that Long Beach is in the “yellow tier” of COVID-19 restrictions, which is the least restrictive in the state’s “blueprint” for COVID-19 metrics. Anticipation of more loosening restrictions come June 15 also contributed to the decision.

The festival, now a decade old, will return to Houghton Park Saturday, Aug. 21.

“We’re gonna go big this year,” said Councilman Rex Richardson, who organizes the event. “We haven’t seen the community in over a year.”

To celebrate the festival’s 10th year, for the first time the Uptown Jazz Festival will be a multi-day affair with live music and other cultural events in the days leading up to Saturday’s blowout celebration. Locals can expect live performances, cultural and art events, local food and drink vendors, in addition to a health fair and other economic recovery resources Richardson’s office will be employing.

There’s still much to plan and coordinate, Richardson said. More details on the music lineup, cultural events, vendors, and resources will be announced in the weeks leading up to the festival.

The popular festival has been the highlight of entertainment in North Long Beach with past Uptown Jazz Festivals having drawn thousands in attendance—over 9,000 in 2019 alone. Last year’s virtual celebration garnered over 1,600 pairs of eyes online.

Kevin Overall of Moreno Valley, cools off with some mist during the Annual Uptown Jazz Festival, held at Houghton Park in Long Beach, Saturday, July 6th , 2019.
Photo by Stephen Carr

“People having been asking us to come back,” Richardson said. “It’s a big deal for us.”

Richardson said the origin story of the Uptown Jazz Festival began as a way to bring live, outdoor music to the region similar to the Municipal Band concert series. The concert was known as the Long Beach Latin Jazz Festival before it was renamed to the Uptown Jazz Festival.

The councilman said his office is still working on what locals can expect as far as health and safety regulations, and much will depend on regulations after June 15 if Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plans to lift mask wearing and ease other restrictions pan out.

Richardson said he and his team have been in contact with the city’s health department and are working on multiple strategies to ensure a safe gathering. Houghton Park has over 25 acres of green space.

“We will be compliant with whatever the guidelines are,” Richardson said.

Houghton Park is at 6301 Myrtle Ave., Long Beach.