HP150 Bitter jester music festival

2019 Applications are closed… stay informed by following us on social media. 2020 Applications will go live in February! 

Congratulations to our 2019 Winners:

Cooper Run (Grand Champs), Ax and the Hatchetmen (Runners-Up), & Out of Pocket (Honorable Mention)!

Listen to a mashup of commentary from our musicians

and check out the All Access Podcast of the Bitter Jester Music Festival!

Proud to be part of the HP150 Celebrations in Highland Park, IL in 2019! Click here for more info.

The Bitter Jester Music Festival (BJMF) is the Midwest's largest professional music competition for rising-star musicians (bands and solo artists alike). BJMF supports and promotes young and emerging talent from across the Midwest. The competition and concert series is built on a strong foundation of community and emboldening and empowering young performers at a critical time in their social and artistic development. BJMF gives participating young adults an opportunity to receive professional feedback from working musicians and, most importantly, meet and connect with dozens of other musicians their own age.  Additionally, performers get to work hand-in-hand with Bitter Jester Studio’s eight-time Emmy award winning production team, providing the competitors with a level of media exposure, professional mentorship, and networking that is unmatched by other similar competitions

Currently, the event has four preliminary competitions on consecutive Fridays in June at Port Clinton Square in downtown Highland Park, IL. A winner is selected by qualified judges each Friday to compete in the Grand Finale Concert. After all four preliminary competitions, judges and Bitter Jester staff decide on four "Wild Card" bands that will also compete for the title at a Grand Finale concert on July 4 leading up to the City of Highland Park's fireworks display. Showcase bands are also selected to perform on the big stage prior to the battle on the 4th of July.

The Bitter Jester Music Festival is made possible, in part, by tremendous support from the City of Highland Park, IL, and we are very proud to be part of the HP150 Celebrations this year! Click here to read what Mayor Rotering has to say about the festival.

It has become a summer tradition to attend Bitter Jester concerts...
— Nancy Rotering, Mayor


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2019 Bitter Jester Music Festival Concert Timeline:

May 31, 2019: Opening Night Concert

June 7, 2019: Concert Night Two

June 14, 2019: Concert Night Three

June 21, 2019: Concert Night Four

June 25, 2019: Wild Card Bands Announced live on WBEZ 91.5FM!

July 4, 2019: Grand Finale Concert & Fireworks

August 6, 2019: Showcase Bands perform at the ‘National Night Out’ in Highland Park

September 2, 2019: 'Best of the Bitter Jeter Music Fest' concert at Navy Pier

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The Bitter Jester Music Fest is sponsored by the City of Highland Park and supported, in part, by grants from YEA! Highland Park and the Highland Park Community Foundation.

Some of our supporters (donating gift cards and other in-kind contributions) include: