Since its debut in 1955, the Ocean Grove Choir Festival has remained one of the most popular sacred music events of the Mid-Atlantic region. This annual festival is held in July and features hundreds of singers, exciting guest conductors, a brass ensemble, and a magnificent pipe organ. It’s a wonderful event for guests of all ages! Whether you’re a Jersey Shore local or are visiting for the weekend, attending the Choir Festival should be on your to-do list. Here are some of the things you’ll see there.
Experience the Ocean Grove Choir FestivalThe VenueThe Choir Festival is held at the historic Ocean Grove Great Auditorium, a beloved venue on the Jersey Shore. It’s considered the most impressive auditorium in the state and is known for its breathtaking architecture and acoustics. Constructed in 1894, the facility can seat over 6,000 people and hosts worship services, concerts, and other entertainment programs throughout the year. It even boasts one of the largest pipe organs in the world!
The EventUnder the baton of Dr. Jason C. Tramm, a number of renowned conductors and musicians lead the festival chorus in twelve beautiful anthems. The choir is composed of over 1,500 voices from all over the world, and they practice together for weeks before producing a thrilling concert of anthems, hymns, and readings. Feel free to bring a singing friend and enjoy a worship experience that’s not to be missed!
Note: If you’re planning to sing in the choir, women are requested to wear all white or a white top with dark skirts/pants. Men should also wear a white shirt with a dark tie and black pants.
Dining & RefreshmentsThere’s nothing better than dinner and a show. For a great meal after the concert, head to one of the many restaurants From sidewalk cafés to romantic bistros, there are plenty of fantastic eateries just steps from the venue! Reservations are strongly recommended so be sure to call ahead.
The Choir Festival also hosts an annual Choir Festival Dinner in the air-conditioned Youth Temple, located across the street from the auditorium.
No trip to Ocean Grove, NJ is complete without a stroll on the boardwalk. This half-mile promenade boasts spectacular views of the Atlantic and provides relief from the noise and crowds of other Jersey Shore beaches. Whether you’re traveling as a couple or with the whole family, the Ocean Grove Boardwalk is perfect for a relaxing afternoon by the sea.
In 2012, Hurricane Sandy caused extensive damage in Ocean Grove. Over half of the boardwalk was destroyed, and the fishing pier was significantly damaged. It cost $3 million to rebuild the boardwalk through FEMA and a community fund-raising drive. Today, we are happy to say that the Ocean Grove Boardwalk stands strong and proud! Here are some of the things you can enjoy there.
Explore the Ocean Grove Boardwalk1. Outdoor RecreationOcean Grove locals and visitors love the non-commercial aspect of the boardwalk. You can go for a peaceful walk and enjoy the ocean breeze, or watch a beautiful sunrise in the morning. There are also plenty of benches to sit back and watch the waves crashing onshore. The boardwalk is great for walking, jogging, and biking (during off hours) and there’s even yoga on the beach for yogis.
2. Boardwalk PavilionFor live entertainment just steps from the sand, head to Ocean Grove’s Boardwalk Pavilion. It’s situated in front of the Great Auditorium and hosts worship services and concerts during the summer months. Church services are held at 9 a.m. on Sunday mornings and Summer Band performances are held on Wednesday evenings at 8 p.m. Both are free and open to the public.
3. Dunes Boardwalk CafeDunes Boardwalk Cafe is a cooperative eatery on the Ocean Grove Boardwalk. It’s basically like an indoor food court, with local vendors selling pizza, burgers, waffles, lobsta rolls, and ice cream. Guests can dine at the picnic-style benches and enjoy gorgeous views of the ocean. There’s not a bad seat in the entire place!
Stop by the Asbury Park BoardwalkAfter you explore Ocean Grove, visit the neighboring town of Asbury Park for a totally different vibe. Their mile-long boardwalk features a great selection of restaurants as well as fun shops, a pinball arcade, and the historic Convention Hall. It’s just a short walk from Ocean Grove and is a great place to bring the kid
If you’ve ever been to Asbury Park, New Jersey, chances are you’ve noticed a tall structure at the end of the boardwalk. That’s the Asbury Park Casino, a concrete and limestone building that sits at 700 Ocean Avenue. Designed by Beaux-Arts architects Whitney Warren and Charles Wetmore, (the designers of Grand Central Station), this casino was once a hotspot at the Jersey Shore. But what happened to all of its glitz and glam? Read on to find out.
History of the Asbury Park CasinoBuilt in 1929, the casino and its accompanying arcade made Asbury Park one of NJ’s premier resort towns. The complex boasted a wide range of amusements, from rides and concessions to year-round accommodations. It was also a popular place for entertainment like movies, theater, and concerts. With visitors flocking from all over the tri-state area, the city quickly became a beloved cultural destination.
When the 1960s rolled around, suburbs, TV, highways, and shopping malls pulled tourists away from Asbury Park. Like many urban areas, the city saw hard times from the 1970s to the turn of the century. Many buildings were abandoned and left to decay; some were even demolished, including part of the casino. Today, the casino’s original polished terrazzo and plasterwork are still visible – a hauntingly beautiful reminder of the town’s glory days.
Asbury Park TodayThanks to Asbury Park’s residents and newcomers, the Asbury Park Boardwalk is once again the place to be. This rejuvenated mile-long promenade boasts a warm, nostalgic feel and offers plenty of family-friendly attractions. You can spend the day shopping and dining, then stop by the Asbury Park Casino and snap some photos. Just a few minutes at this iconic landmark will leave you with a lifetime of wonderful memories.
Asbury Park also attracts visitors to its world-famous nightclubs. We recommend catching a concert at The Stone Pony, a legendary music venue that was established in 1974. Or check out the Convention Hall and the adjacent Paramount Theatre. Each has hosted performances by Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Frank Sinatra, and the Rolling Stones, just to name a few.