The annual Long Island Winterfest kicked off Thursday in Riverhead, preceding six weekends of jazz performances at East End wineries.
Starting Feb. 11, more than 50 performers from around the world are scheduled to perform at the 16 participating vineyards. A full schedule is available at www.liwinterfest.com.
Performers include those based locally and in New York City, such as the Carl Burnett Band, Mambo Loco and the Michael Jazz Trio.
Pat Snyder, executive director of the East End Arts Council, which organizes the event with the Long Island Wine Council, said thousands participated in last year's Winterfest.
This year each performance will cost $10, which includes a glass of wine. Snyder said the fee helps cover the cost of the event and gives organizers a more accurate count of how many people attend.
Each ticket also enters its buyer into a weekly raffle for basket prizes and one weekend getaway at an East End hotel.
Winterfest, started in 2006 to draw visitors during the winter season, has been a huge success and continues to grow each year, said Suffolk County Legis. Edward P. Romaine (R-Center Moriches) at Thursday's kickoff event at the Indigo Hotel that included a musical performance by bass player Steve Watson and pianist Jane Haystay.
"We put a stamp on ourselves as a region, as a destination to go in the winter season," he said.
Kristen Matejka, marketing and communications director for the Long Island Convention & Visitors Bureau, said with this winter's onslaught of snow, the organizers are expecting a large turnout.
"Just come out, have some fun," she said. "Stop hibernating."
Steve Watson, of the Steve Watson Trio, performs with pianist Jane Haystay at Thursday's kickoff for the 2011 Long Island Winterfest at the Hotel Indigo in Riverhead. (Feb. 3, 2011)