Attendees at Jazz in the Gardens | Photo by David I. Muir

For nearly two decades, the Jazz in the Gardens music festival has stood as a cornerstone of the Miami Gardens community, evolving from a modest parking lot event into a two-night extravaganza eagerly anticipated by residents and national and international visitors year after year. Located at Dolphins Stadium (now Hard Rock Stadium) since 2006, the festival has welcomed an impressive array of jazz, hip-hop, R&B, soul and reggae artists. For the 2024 edition, Jazz in the Gardens is set to have a stellar lineup that includes names like Summer Walker, Davido, Jazmine Sullivan, Fantasia, Rick Ross, Maxwell, Babyface and more, complemented by delicious multi-ethnic cuisine and vendor booths.

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Reflecting the area’s diverse cultural landscape, particularly its majority Black and Caribbean population, Jazz in the Gardens has become a celebration of South Florida’s rich heritage. Here are 10 reasons Caribbean attendees flock to this iconic event each year.

Escape to Paradise

For the diaspora living in other parts of the United States and traveling to the festival, Jazz in the Gardens offers a brief escape to paradise. Surrounded by palm trees, warm sunshine, traditional cuisine and island-inspired music, festival-goers can immerse themselves in the tropical beauty of South Florida, reminiscent of the Caribbean, without ever leaving the States.

Caribbean Vibes

From reggae rhythms to soca beats, Jazz in the Gardens pulses with the sounds of the Caribbean. For the diaspora living in South Florida or visiting from neighboring islands, the festival serves as a celebration of their cultural heritage. From dancehall artists like Sean Paul and neo-soul from Maxwell, to R&B icons like Ari Lennox, who has worked with Skip Marley, and DJ Cassidy who just put out an “If You Like Piña Coladas” remix with Shaggy and Rayvon, Caribbean music has been on display in both years past and in their upcoming lineup.

Musical Diversity

Speaking of music, while the festival is rooted in jazz, it embraces musical diversity, welcoming artists from all corners of the globe. For Caribbean people, this diversity reflects the eclectic nature of their own culture, which is influenced by African, European, Asian and indigenous traditions.

World-Class Lineup

Every year, Jazz in the Gardens showcases a stellar lineup of internationally acclaimed artists representing a diverse array of genres, including jazz, R&B, neo-soul, reggae, and gospel. From iconic R&B acts like the “Queen of R&B” herself, Mary J. Blige, to Usher and H.E.R., who performed at the 2024 Super Bowl together, to Afrobeats sensations like Davido, who alongside Burna Boy and Wizkid is credited with popularizing the genre worldwide, the lineup never fails to impress.

Discovering Local Favorites

The festival also serves as a platform for discovering new music and emerging talent, showcasing artists from both local scenes and beyond on a secondary stage. Among the standout performers are April Raquel, known for her soulful funk vocals, and LaVie, whose sultry jazz stylings have captivated audiences. Having graced the Jazz in the Gardens stage multiple times, both artists have garnered a devoted following and continue to attract new fans with each performance.

Dancing the Night Away

Year after year, the star-studded lineup at Jazz in the Gardens brings the opportunity to dance the night away, and the music never fails to ignite the crowd. For Caribbean attendees, dancing is an integral part of their cultural expression, and the festival provides the perfect opportunity to showcase their moves and revel in the joy of music and movement.

Culinary Delights

Just like the diverse sounds of the Caribbean, the food at Jazz in the Gardens is a culinary melting pot, offering an array of Caribbean delicacies among other international cuisines. With approximately 15-20 food and drink vendors on-site, attendees can indulge in a variety of dishes, like succulent jerk chicken to refreshing conch salad. From Jamaican and Haitian specialties to Latin, Chinese, Bahamian, and soul food, there’s a diverse range of flavors to satisfy every palate.

Community Connection

Jazz in the Gardens isn’t just a music festival — it’s a community gathering where friends and family come together to celebrate life, music and culture. For the diaspora, the festival is a chance to reconnect with old friends, make new ones and strengthen bonds within the community. 

Generational Tradition

And for many families, attending Jazz in the Gardens has become a cherished tradition since its inception in 2006. From grandparents to grandchildren, families gather each year to enjoy the music, food, culture and camaraderie, creating memories that last a lifetime.

Cultural Pride

Between the music, food, dancing and activities, Jazz in the Gardens is a platform for showcasing and honoring the cultural legacy and artistic expressions of Caribbean, Latino, African and Black communities. 

Ultimately, Jazz in the Gardens provides people with a sense of belonging and unity. Surrounded by fellow music lovers and cultural enthusiasts, they feel at home. Whether they’re dancing to reggae, swaying to jazz or simply soaking up the sun, Caribbean people flock to Jazz in the Gardens festival for a taste of home and a celebration of the culture that unites them.


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