2021 Lineup

Next year the festival will run on its traditonal weekend: Saturday June 25th and Sunday June 26th, 2022.

The Saratoga Jazz Festival returned to SPAC on its traditional weekend, Saturday June 26th and Sunday June 27th, in 2021!

Tickets went on sale to the public Friday May 21st 10am. Amphitheater tickets started at $130 per pod, which seat up to two people. Lawn tickets were available to purchase for $150 for a two-person pod, or $300 for a four-person pod.

Saturday June 26th

  • noon – 12:45Hot Club of Saratoga – upstate New York’s premier gypsy swing ensemble
  • 1:15 – 2:15Joey Alexander – Contemporary jazz pianist, bandleader and composer
  • 2:45 – 3:45Dianne Reeves – the pre-eminent jazz vocalist in the world
  • 4:15 – 5:30Christian McBride’s New Jawn – McBride on bass, Nasheet Waits on drums, Marcus Strickland on tenor saxophone and bass clarinet, and Josh Evans on trumpet.

Sunday June 27th

  • noon – 12:45Garland Nelson’s Joyful Noise – a spirit-lifting ensemble of musicians and singers, originally scheduled to make their Jazz Fest debut in 2020
  • 1:15 – 2:15Al Di Meola – internationally recognized guitar virtuoso
  • 2:45 – 3:45Artemis – all-female supergroup comprised of the most acclaimed musicians in modern jazz
  • 4:15 – 5:30Cécile McLorin Salvant – recently named “Female Vocalist of the Year” by the 2021 Jazz Journalists Association

Changes for COVID-19

Things are a little different this year due to COVID-19 and associated mandates from the New York State government. Here ‘s what you need to know:

  • Performances will be 12pm – 6pm both days, and all performances will be on the main amphitheater stage.
  • Food and beverage options will be available on site.
  • Guests are welcome to bring in their own blankets (no larger than their designated pod size), chairs and personal umbrellas or clip-on umbrellas. Essential personal items, food in a clear plastic bag and up to one gallon of factory-sealed water will also be permitted onto the grounds.
  • To limit bag checks and allow for touchless entry whenever possible, coolers, beach umbrellas, tents, and tarps will not be permitted this year.
  • Masks are only required for unvaccinated guests per Federal CDC guidelines.

46 replies on “2021 Lineup”

We will announce the line-up some time at the end of January or beginning of February. The official festival website is spac.org

Will we be returning to the old system of choosing our own spot on the lawn through the morning run in? This is especially favored by our group and many others. Thank you. Chuck.

I see that Diana Krall is touring, been quite a while since she played Saratoga. Still think Boz Scaggs would be a suitable and great closer. Kamasi Washington and Richard Bona would also work for me.

Hear ye, hear ye!
Updated Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Fest Guidelines:
Proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results are no longer required for entry to the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival at SPAC. Temperature checks and health screenings will not be required for entry either.
Masks are only required for unvaccinated guests per Federal CDC guidelines.
Tickets Added:
Additional amphitheater tickets are now available on both days; seats will still be socially distanced but please contact the Box Office at 518-584-9330 x135 if you have any questions.
Expanded On-Site Hang Experience:
More on-site food and beverage options will be available! Visit Mazzone Hospitality at the Hall of Springs steps or Legends Hospitality at the NEW concessions area. NEW restrooms – the old food court/restroom buildings are gone and the new facilities are BEAUTIFUL!
Visit with friends and family from other pods at the picnic tables near the merch area out on the field and visit local artisans and crafters for a range of beautiful items for sale, including paintings, home décor, pottery and ceramics, wearable art and more. Limited edition 2021 Jazz Fest T-shirts designed by Skidmore College student Madeleine Tyler may be available for in-person purchase if quantities allow.
You’re gonna ask, so I’m gonna write – no tarps, tables, beach umbrellas or coolers. You can bring up to a gallon of water in a sealed container and food in clear see-through bags.
We are super-psyched to be reunited next weekend and may the sun shine on all of us!


Only two of our group attended this year and expressed one concern. The removal of the bathrooms took away a sound buffer from the amphitheater to the gazebo. I know two years ago I had to ask the sound man at the gazebo to contact the main stage and ask that the sound be lowered on both days. Thankfully, the main stage responded by lowering the volume a bit. There is often the coinciding of a mellow act at the gazebo and much louder act on the main stage. Has any thought been done to address this potential problem?

Hi, Danny.

Great job in pulling together this year’s festival. Excellent line-up and thoughtful planning. Do you know whether a phone photo of our vaccination cards will be accepted for admission? I’d prefer not risking losing it over the weekend.

Thanks for all your efforts!

Thanks so much Rob. I am going to write further on this later today but NYS has updated their policy and we don’t need proof of vaccination now so leave it at home and the phone in your pocket! I’ll post a deeper update here and on our Facebook group page too. SPAC is updating their website. See you next weekend! Best DM

…..so we have to pay $75 to see only four performers. We have to prove vaccination/disease free but can’t bring a cooler for food/drinks or a tent for shade and we have to wear a mask, even though we will be in socially distanced pods and will have proven vaccination or disease free? I mean come on, that’s absolutely ridiculous. Charging $75 for only four performers knowing fully well that people are also going to have to buy food and drinks, forcing people to wear masks even though they’re disease-free and not allowing people to have a tent for shade? Absurd.

I’m sitting this year out and hoping to a return to normalcy next year, but hoping that everyone that is going and buying tickets can get the seats and pods they want.

Very strong first day yesterday. I’m really pleased. We’ll keep you posted if the DoH changes their policies. Best DM

The 44th annual Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival this June marks the first live jazz performances at SPAC in over a year! Gates will open at 10am each day and performances will run on the amphitheater stage from 12pm-6pm. Headlining this year’s Festival are Dianne Reeves, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Christian McBride’s New Jawn, Al Di Meola, Joey Alexander and Artemis, presented by Skidmore Jazz Institute. Acclaimed local artists Garland Nelson’s Joyful Noise and Hot Club of Saratoga round out the Festival, both presented by Caffé Lena.

Due to COVID-19 safety guidelines, this year’s Festival will look a bit different – ticketing information and safety protocols are below.

In order to maintain social distancing and uphold mandated guidelines by New York State, the 2021 festival will feature performances from 12pm-6pm on both days, all scheduled for the main amphitheater stage. Food and beverage options will be available on site. Guests are welcome to bring in their own blankets (no larger than their designated pod size), chairs and personal umbrellas or clip-on umbrellas. Essential personal items, food in a clear plastic bag and factory sealed water will also be permitted onto the grounds. To limit bag checks and allow for touchless entry whenever possible, coolers, beach umbrellas, tents, and tarps will not be permitted for this year.

Ticketholders who kept their seats from the 2020 Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, which was canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be reseated and contacted by the box office. SPAC Members will have early ticket access depending on membership level beginning May 18. Tickets for the public will be available to purchase May 21.

Designated pods of two will be allocated and reserved for ticket buyers in the amphitheater, while designated pods of one, two and four will be available on the SPAC lawn. Amphitheater tickets start at $130 per pod, which seat up to two people. Lawn tickets are available to purchase for $150 for a two-person pod, or $300 for a four-person pod. Single tickets will be extremely limited and available starting at $65 for the amphitheater and $75 for the lawn. Advance ticket purchases are strongly advised, as ticket availability will be limited. If available, tickets will be on sale on the day of, but are subject to an additional fee.
COVID-19 Safety and Protocols

SPAC will be adhering to all mandated NYS guidelines. All attendees are required to show proof that they have completed their COVID-19 vaccination no sooner than 14 days prior to the event OR a negative 72-hour COVID-19 test. In addition, attendees are required to complete a health screening questionnaire and pass a mandatory temperature check prior to entry. Guests are required to wear a face mask that cover the nose and mouth at all times, regardless of proof of vaccination or negative test. Guests are permitted to bring up to one gallon of factory-sealed water, food in clear plastic bags, blankets (no larger than their designated pod size), chairs and personal umbrellas or clip-on umbrellas. Coolers, tents and tables are NOT permitted. Restrooms will be available with social distancing and enhanced cleaning and sanitation protocols in place in accordance with recommended guidelines.


Hi Danny, I appreciate all of the time and hard work that must’ve gone into planning this event for this year. I Was just wondering how this will work. Was just wondering how this will work. My family of attendees is 6-10 people. Will we be able to buy pods next to each other on the lawn? It doesn’t make sense that we would be scattered. I would just like to be clear before we decide to come this year.

Thanks and “yes.” The pods will be numbered and on a map on the website so you can choose two pods next to each other. We announced the line-up 8 minutes ago! Hope to see you there. Happy to answer any other questions. Best. DM

Thank you Danny for the quick response! Hopefully we can get adjoining pods and are able to go!

Not in small coolers. You’ll see all the “rules” listed on the spac website and you can act accordingly. Best DM

Will we be offered refunds on tickets purchased last year that we cannot use this year? I can’t see being confined, to any particular spot that may subject us to inhospitable conditions during the day and feel we must opt out.

Yes. The Box Office will be reaching everyone who still has tickets from last year to discuss options. DM

Not this year. We are being required to do everything we can to eliminate crowding at the entrances and as we have to do security checks, Vax or test checks, temperature checks and scan tickets, we are limiting what can be brought in so that the entry is as smooth as possible.

I usually buy tickets for theater seating and have seating on the lawn as well and go back and forth with bands I want to see I go under or if weather is bad. Do I have to stay under or can I sit outside too….do I need to purchase tickets for both lawn and amphitheater
Also we need handicap parking….even tho I’m given a space on my ticket can I park in the front lot where I’ve been parking for over 20 yrs…
Can you go in and out….leave and come back if u want to go get something to eat
Lastly when can I call to speak to someone to purchase tickets and get more answers….can u pick ur spot

Good morning Kathy – This year the amphitheater will be seated in pairs of 2 seats only separated by empty seats. We can seat around 1100 people in the entire amphitheater, which includes the balcony. The seat map on the website will show this. The lawn pods will be numbered and reserved and the map will show this too. If you plan to go back and forth, you will have to buy both. The pods on the lawn are specific to up to 4 people only, no more. But remember that the festival is running from noon-6pm only both days so it won’t be as long as it usually is.

The state is not allowing people to re-enter the grounds so if you leave, you can’t get back in. But you will be able to walk around, get food, use the restrooms, etc. Always wearing a mask.

We are announcing the line-up next week and the on-sale info too. You can always call the SPAC Box Office if you have questions. 518.584.9330

Best – Danny

Not sure yet. SPAC typically does not allow that but we’re working on rules for this year. We’ll update everyone soon.

What r the pods looking like and do you supply them
Also how do we get a copy of our vaccination cards to you 14 days prior…we are coming from out of State.
So we can’t bring a smaller bag with some water and a sandwich…or r you selling those thungs

Hi Kathy – the “pods” inside the amphitheater will be clustered seats separated by empty seats. We can seat approximately 1100 people inside, including the balcony, which the NYS Dept of Health has approved. The seat map on the SPAC website will show this. SPAC is painting 150 pod areas on the lawn (each will be 12 feet x 12 feet squares or 12 feet diameter circles) and they will all be numbered. This too will be on the website and people will be able to choose their location. This will eliminate the need to run in to get your spot. We are not allowing that to happen this year (and it won’t be necessary….) You bring your vaccination card with you to show upon entry. Small personal items are OK. And, yes, there will be food & beverages available.

This is great news and I hope that I’ll be able to get tickets tho I appreciate the need to first accommodate those jazz fans who tried to attend in 2020. I just attended the Exit Zero Jazz Festival in Cape May, NJ and, masks-chilly outdoor-venues-and-all, it was one of the best jazz experiences ever. (Ask me about Robert Glasper waving in Joey Alexander and Orrin Evans to burn up the ivories with him, on the same piano bench for one brilliant, unforgettable jam.) I am so grateful that the Exit Zero festival’s producers put up with all the exhausting red tape and last minute bureaucratic switcheroos to reunite an ambitious, diverse lineup of talent with their fans. Hats off to Danny Melnick and team for all they are doing to make this festival happen this year – it ain’t easy.

So just to be clear…as I see that tents are prohibited… this includes dining flies, canopy’s etc.? Also if you’re only going to allow umbrellas; does this mean only the hand held variety?

Blankets yes and tarps no is possibly a bad rule. Based on past experience if it rains most people will take their tarps home with them but soggy blankets are often left behind. The cleanup crew will regret this new and to my view senseless edict.

The SPAC box office team is reaching to everyone this week, before tickets go on sale, to talk about what your options are. They are going to take care of everyone who held tickets from last year for sure.

If NYS relaxes restrictions around events, will the festival relax its restrictions? Or are things carved in stone at this point?

And I am wondering about the 20% capacity limit. I think SPAC’s capacity for Live Nation shows is like 25,000. Is the limit 20% of this, which would be around 5,000? This does not seem too bad for the festival.

We can adjust a bit as times moves forward but the overall structure of the plan – one stage – 4 bands each day – will likely not change. We’re dealing with everything the state is doing in real time. Living in transition! Whew.

What’s the point of 20% capacity and requiring social distancing and masks if every one has to be vaccinated or have a current negative COVID test to get in? They’ll all be disease free!

Hi Sam – Sort of. We are not going to be allowed to let folks in with “big stuff.” No coolers, tents, folding tables or umbrellas that stake into the grass. You can bring blankets, chairs, umbrellas that attach to your chair. Best DM

I pass, after 40 years attendance. I’m fed up with power-mad admistrators’ incompetent rules. This is America, land of the free, home of the brave. They can do their outdoor mask wearing virtue-signalling without me.

Mike Seidel, you are absolutely right, if everyone that enters shows they were vaccinated and checked for a fever prior to entering than why such strict restrictions? I’ll pass this year myself also, been going for 20+ years and now if I go I can’t bring a cooler, tent, table, tarp and the show is only till 6pm, not worth traveling up from the city to go and see this festival at only 20 percent and all the restrictions. I understand it’s not spac’s fault, just obiding by state rules. As it was before covid the festival was shortened compared to years ago, used to be the last act on Saturday ended at midnight and Sunday at 11pm and that was changed to an earlier ending time. Years ago you would see 3or 4 big names in music each day and last few years only 1 big name for closer on Saturday and Sunday and when I say big name I meant from years ago, George Benson? He can still play but his voice is shot and then they have Chaka Khan, washed up screaming shot voice and a big attitude with the audience and stage crew, glad at least I have a lot of memories from the days when it was the Newport jazz festival and not Freihoffers

It’s a shame, if they would have postponed the date for a month they could have had the festival same as before covid with no restrictions at all. NYS is at 68 percent vaccinated now, once the state hits 70 percent then All restrictions are lifted so now who ever goes to the festival has to abide by all these restrictions that are no longer in place. Hopefully next year things will be back to normal

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