SPAC Cancels Jazz Fest, offering Caffe Lena Stay at Home Session Alternative


Saratoga Performing Arts Center today announces the cancellation of the 2020 Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Alternatives include a partnership with Caffe Lena’s “Stay at Home Sessions,” allowing the music to go on, and an opportunity for fans to donate.

The difficult decision was made to ensure the health and safety of the artists, ticket buyers, and the community. The two-day event, originally scheduled for June 27-28, was to present a rich roster of artists including Nile Rodgers & CHIC, Kool & the Gang, Cassandra Wilson and Taj Mahal, as well as several local artists.

In recognition of the festival’s importance to the City, SPAC, together with Caffé Lena will present “Freihofer’s Jazz Fest Stay Home Sessions.” A series of live streamed performances over the festival weekend, the virtual event will bring Jazz Fest fans and the community together for an intimate concert experience. Groups of no more than three will assemble on the Caffé Lena stage, giving audiences an opportunity to experience the musicians’ artistry, while also adhering to safety guidelines. The full artist line-up, which will be announced at a later date, is slated to include a number of local musicians who have been affected by the pandemic. 

“After 42 consecutive years presenting one of the most exceptional jazz festivals in North America, to have to cancel the 2020 Festival is both heartbreaking and devastating.  The loss of this event as an exuberant gathering of jazz-lovers is deeply painful – and the economic impact to SPAC, the community, and the many artists who were to perform is incalculable,” says Elizabeth Sobol, President and CEO of Saratoga Performing Arts Center“That said, in true Saratoga Community spirit, we are fortunate to be able to partner with Saratoga’s beloved Caffé Lena to bring live performances via the Caffé’s Stay Home Sessions platform.”

“The cancellation of the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival is heartbreaking to us, the artists, the production crew and our dedicated audience but within the larger context of what we are dealing with personally, nationally and globally, is something we can ‘manage,’” says Danny Melnick, the festival producer and President of Absolutely Live Entertainment. “This festival began in 1978 and has been the longest continuously running jazz festival in the northeastern part of North America. We are working to create an online ‘festival’ experience and looking forward to returning to ’The Hang’ in 2021.”

“While we are heartbroken that the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival will not be taking place in person this year, we remain committed to the artists, the community, and the music! The festival has been a large part of the community for many years and we are confident that it will continue to be so for many years to come – we look forward to seeing everyone in person in 2021,” says Lorraine Hale, Vice President of Marketing at Bimbo Bakeries USA.

SPAC also announced an initiative to donate two tickets to first responders and local health care workers for performances during its 2021 season for every ticket holder of the 2020 festival who chooses to convert all or a minimum of $25 of their ticket purchase into a tax deductible donation. SPAC depends on ticket sales and the generosity of individuals for 66% of its annual budget, therefore ticket donations will help to ensure the vitality of SPAC during these unprecedented times.

Visit for options to exchange, donate or to request a refund.

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