Twice a year, Cape May transforms from a small town to a veritable music village, when Exit Zero Jazz Festival visits. Throughout the three-day festival, a plethora of musicians presenting a wide array of jazz and other genres perform at the Schmidtchen Theater, Cape May Convention Hall and in the bars and nightclubs of Cape May, many of which line the beachfront. Here are four reasons to head to Cape May for the Exit Zero this weekend.

1. A stellar lineup of incredible jazz.

There is so much great jazz at the Exit Zero Jazz Festival that the toughest part of your weekend will be deciding whom to watch and when. Performers include NEA Jazz Master Dianne Reeves Marcus Miller; Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers; Stefon Harris & Blackout featuring Casey Benjamin; Kurt Elling; Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra conducted by NEA Jazz Master Carla Bley; Bob James Trio; Terell Stafford Quintet; Banda Magda; Ameranouche; Daisy Castro; Roosevelt Collier; Conjunto Philadelphia; and many more. Go to for more information.

2. A bunch of vibrant venues.

You need a lot of fun locations to host this much jazz, and the Exit Zero Jazz Festival utilizes the best of them. While headliner shows are held at Convention Hall and Schmidtchen Theater, plenty of other performances are at Cape May bars such as Iron Pier Craft House; The Rusty Nail; Carney’s; Carney’s Other Room; Cabanas; SeaSalt; and Aleathea’s. Go to for a full lineup of who is playing where and when.

3. The official beer of Exit Zero.

While many of the venues for the jazz festival come complete with their own selection of beer, wine and cocktails, there is only one official Jazz Festival beverage and it’s from Cape May Brewing Company, the official beer sponsor of Exit Zero Jazz Fest. The King Porter Stomp — a medium bodied porter with a chocolate aroma — will flow all weekend long at all Exit Zero Jazz Fest venues.

4. An escape plan.

There’s nothing like the hustle and bustle of a music festival. Until there’s not, and you’d like something a bit more mellow. If that’s the case, Willow Creek Winery has you covered. Head there on Friday for a night under the stars surrounded by a vineyard, live music and a cozy fire for Fire Pit Friday. Located at 160-168 Stevens St. in West Cape May. Go to for more information.

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