Gem & Jam 2024: Arizona’s Quintessential Winter Festival

Jacob Devaney
4 min readDec 22, 2023

What makes a great festival? Of course there are many elements including the music, the workshops, the setting, the art and the venders. Gem and Jam has all of these essential components but what truly makes a great festival is the community. It’s is the people and the collective vibe that is created within a festival that is the source of great memories. This is why Gem and Jam is always one of my favorites.

This year’s festival happens February 2–4. For 16 years this event continues to charm festival-goers and ward off any mid-winter blues in the majestic Sonoran Desert. The warm weather and sunsets alone during this time of year are good enough reasons to take a road trip to Arizona. Yet with the world-renowned Gem and Mineral Show also happening this week nestled within Tucson’s rich cultural landscape as a backdrop, the adventure is always memorable.

Music by Gone Gone Beyond, Video & Photos from Gem & Jam 2023 by Dennis Eustace

Live and Electronic Music: A variety of tasty grooves for music lovers with diverse appetites gives listeners many options. Some festivals focus on a particular genre but Gem and Jam mixes it up with electronic DJ’s and live musical acts spread across 4 stages with a late-night indoor venue to cozy-up when temperatures drop outside.

Mind-melting visuals and light show accompany music under desert sky. Photo Credit: Dennis Eustace

This year includes Lettuce, The Disco Biscuits, Spafford (native of Prescott, AZ. a long-time local and now international favorite), Of the Trees, Vincent Antone, and Fort Knox Five are just a few of the headliners. Toubab Krewe has a unique acoustic world-beat jam-fusion sound with African Flavors thanks to Justin Perkins’ refined expressions on the Kora and Kamelngoni. Gone Gone Beyond, features vocalist Kat Factor and multi-instrumentalist David Block aka “The Human Experience”, has a heart-warming future-folk sound mixed with electronic accents. Sam Grisman Project pays tribute to the musical collaborations of David Grisman and Jerry Garcia playing contemporary renditions of classic ballads made famous by the Grateful Dead.

Chilly evenings means dance harder to stay warm! Photo Credit: Dennis Eustace

The Scene: Workshop stages, yoga, drum circles, kids parades, and family area are spread out across acres of grass and trees with art installations. During the day-time people lounge on blankets with friends, basking in the sun and recovering from dancing through the night.

A Playground for Adults. Photo Credit: Dennis Eustace

There are few events that rival the number of live visionary painters as you will find at Gem and Jam. Tribe 13 sets up a classy gallery of contemporary art and dedicates a portion of their income to a local charity. Live painters will be spotlighted in my next article on the festival that will come out in January when the lineup of Visionary Artists is complete.

Tribe 13 Art Gallery Photo Credit: Dennis Eustace

The onsite camping might be the closest thing I have experienced to the legendary Grateful Dead parking lot carnival scene in a long time. People are out flipping grilled cheese by their colorful school bus and showcasing various treasures and wire-wrapped crystals they have scored at the local Gem and Mineral show in Tucson. The whole community comes out in their finest, freakiest garb to add color and vibrancy to the experience.

A Spoon Faerie poses with a giant crystal art installation.

Winter Warmth: With short days and long winter nights the festival community hibernates eagerly awaiting the launch of the 2024 season of adventures. Gem and Jam is where those seeds of springtime begin to sprout as people come from far and wide to celebrate the warmth of the desert sun and our creative community. Head on over to get your tickets for February 2–4 and start making plans for a midwinter adventure to the enchanted land of the sun in Southern Arizona.



Jacob Devaney

Cultural-Creative, Media-Maker, Dreamer, Musician. Technology, Art, Science, Health, Spirituality, Culture, Community, Environment. UNIFY Co-Founder