There is great music going on in Los Angeles all the time, so it's no surprise that Los Angeles and surrounding cities also host some great music festivals. Jazz dominates, but blues, folk, cajun, reggae, and experimental music all get their showcase. There are many other festivals and street fairs with music as a significant component, but here are the top Los Angeles festivals with music as their primary focus listed by month.
These are events that last from a day to a couple weeks. For music events that run all summer, check the LA Summer Concert Series Guide.
The Ragga Muffins Festival takes place every February at the Long Beach Convention Center. It features two full days of entertainment from top reggae acts from around the world, as well as related Rasta vendors and food.
Over 100 instrumental and singing contestants compete on three stages at the annual Topanga Banjo and Fiddle Contest. The event takes place in May at the Paraunt Ranch near Agoura Hills in the Saa Monica Mountains Recreation Area. In addition to the music competitions, there are folk performances, jam sessions under the trees, a Dance Barn and a children's craft area.
The Simi Valley Cajun Creole Music Festival takes place annually on Memorial Day weekend in May. The 2-day event features Blues, Cajun and Creole stages as well as food and craft vendors and a Kids Zone.
4. UCLA JazzReggae Festival
The UCLA JazzReggae Festival takes place each year over Memorial Day Weekend in May. The two-day outdoor event on the UCLA campus includes a line-up of top reggae artists.
The annual Dog Star Orchestra is a ten-day celebration of current orchestral and experimental composers that takes place at locations in Los Angeles, Valencia, Lancaster and out at Vasquez Rocks in Santa Clarita. Dozens of new works and rarely performed pieces are performed each year in June. This event is organized rather casually by musicians for musicians, so it has a very organic feel. Don't expect a highly produced event. Think of it as watching an orchestral experimental jam session, and just hope they get the schedule online so you can see when the events are.
The LA Acoustic Music Festival takes place each May in Santa Monica, bringing folk music legends to the stage with an adjacent community festival for a full day of entertainment.
The Playboy Jazz Festival is an annual 2-day event that takes place in June at the Hollywood Bowl featuring a full day of music each day. Each day requires a separate ticket.
The Long Beach Bayou and Mardi Gras Festival celebrates Cajun, Zydeco, New Orleans jazz and blues. The event takes place for two days at the end of June at the Rainbow Lagoon next to the Long Beach Convention Center.
Make Music Pasadena is an annual one-day celebration of local and internationally known musicians. The free event takes place each June in alleys, courtyards, building lobbies and other unconventional locations around downtown Pasadena.
The Central Avenue Jazz Festival takes place annually in July in South Los Angeles. The free, family-friendly event features, jazz, blues and Latin jazz from high school bands to internationally renowned musicians.