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Lakeland MLK Parade and Swan City Jazz Fest - Celebrate the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior : City News Blog

LAKELAND, FL (January 11, 2024) | The festivities honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Junior include a jazz festival and parade starting Saturday, January 20, 2024.

Due to inclement weather expected over the weekend, the Swan City Jazz Festival will take place in the Kathleen High School Auditorium.  The event is FREE and will take place January 20-21, 2024, at the Kathleen High School Auditorium (1100 Red Devil Way) from 12 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. For additional information go to: www.swancityjazzfestival.com.  The 2024 lineup includes two amazing headliners Julian Vaughn and Lannie Battistini. These celebrated musicians are bringing their unique blend of jazz artistry to the festival, promising a weekend filled with rhythmic allure and musical excellence.

Julian Vaughn, the bass guitar maestro, is renowned for his ability to enthrall audiences with his gospel-influenced smooth jazz and instrumental R&B. With four Billboard #1 hits and eight #1s as a feature on various artists' songs, Vaughn’s musical genius is undisputed. His chart-topping albums showcase his finesse in blending contemporary jazz with soulful rhythms.

With a rich musical heritage rooted in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Lannie Battistini is a Latin jazz pianist whose accolades include a Grammy Award for "Best Merengue Album" and a Latin Grammy Award in 2001. His distinct musical style fuses jazz improvisations with vibrant Latin rhythms, creating a captivating musical experience. He is a revered figure in the global music scene.

One of the event organizers, Lynne Simpkins said, “This event has continued to grow steadily each year and now we have a multi-day jazz festival. We believe cultural experiences will continue to honor the legacy of Dr. King by helping to shape the look and feel of our community.  We are very blessed this year to have an awesome line-up that includes two amazing headliners with diverse musical talents.”

The 46th Annual MLK Parade features over 100 participants and it takes place on Saturday, January 20, 2024, with a 1 p.m. start time.  This year’s theme is Living the Dream: It starts with Me, Spreading Hope, Courage, and Unity.

The parade route will start on Providence Road at West 14th Street intersection. The parade will travel Providence Road and then turn east on 10th Street before heading south on MLK Avenue ending at 2nd Street.  The parade will include professional floats, step/dance teams, walkers, decorated vehicles, car clubs, and marching bands.  Judges will be viewing for the following categories: Walkers, Decorated Vehicle, Professional Float, Flatbed/Trailer, Dance Group, Car Club, Band, Motorcycles, Unique Cars/Trucks.  There will be first, second and third place winners and a Judge’s Honorable Mention.


The community is encouraged to attend the MLK Parade and celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Dr. King maintained a vision for a more diverse America where all enjoyed the benefits of equality.  For more information go to lakelandgov.net and search MLK parade.



Kevin Cook
Director of Communications
City of Lakeland

About Lakeland

The City of Lakeland was incorporated in January 1885 and has grown to become one of the largest inland communities in Florida.  With a current population of over 100,000 Lakeland continues to grow. It has been designated a Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area by the US Census Bureau for over 30 years.  With tourist attractions and gulf beaches only an hour away, Lakeland continues to capitalize on its ideal central Florida location along the I-4 corridor.  The City owns and operates Lakeland Electric, the third largest publicly owned utility in Florida and it was one of the first to offer power in the Sunshine State over 115 years ago. 

For additional information about the City of Lakeland, please visit www.lakelandgov.net.  Citizens are also invited to follow the City on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, Snapchat and Nextdoor.  Citizens can find the City of Lakeland on these social media platforms by searching lakelandgov. 



For additional information about the City of Lakeland, please explore LakelandGov.net.
Citizens are also invited to follow the City on social media.