The Montreal Jazz Festival is not only one of the most popular festivals in Montreal, but it is also among the most popular festivals of its kind in the world. You only need to look at the fact that the Festival de Jazz de Montreal is a Guinness World Record holder for the largest jazz festival in the world for evidence. This event is arguably the most highly anticipated festival in a city that has been dubbed the City of Festivals due to its lively events scene. This is not hard to imagine when you look at the impressive statistics. Even among other popular annual festivities like Carnaval, Just For Laughs, and Made in Montreal, for many, the Jazz Fest takes the proverbial cake.
First and foremost, the Montreal Jazz Fest events draw over 2 million people to the city each and every year, over a third of which are tourists. The festival features over 3,000 jazz artists from around the world and nearly 700 concerts, approximately 450 of which are free outdoor shows. The entire city truly comes to life for ten days between the end of June and the beginning of July. A good portion of the city’s busy thoroughfares is shut off to traffic to allow for concerts during this time. The gigs are split between around ten indoor venues (including stages at the Place des Arts) and approximately ten outdoor venues.
It may be hard to believe, but for some of the marquee, nighttime outdoor shows, there has been attendance of over 100,000 people. One of the great things about the festival is the great diversity of Montreal Jazz Fest events. You can see a massive outdoor show featuring the biggest names in jazz one night, and settle into a cool jazz club to hear the best up and coming artists the next. Of course, being in Montreal, you will be within close proximity of tons of restaurants, bars, cafes, galleries, museums, and sightseeing attractions as well. Traveling to Montreal during the Festival de Jazz de Montreal is one of the best times to do so, especially if you are not averse to large crowds or heavy tourist traffic.
There are a couple of general rules you will want to abide by to be able to truly make the most of your experience at the Montreal Jazz Festival. Firstly, the weather in late June and early July in Montreal can be downright oppressive. You should wear t-shirts, shorts, bring sun block, sunglasses, and perhaps even a hat. Wear your walking shoes if you plan on exploring the city and checking out a number of shows at the Festival de Jazz de Montreal. You can purchase tickets to particular shows of interest online as well as at ticket windows and venues (most of which are listed on the official website of the Montreal Jazz Festival in advance of that year’s events).
Past performers at this amazing gathering in the capital of Quebec have included: Dave Brubeck, Leonard Cohen, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Herbie Hancock, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Muddy Waters, and Chuck Berry. Taking a quick glance at this list instantly allows you to see what caliber of festival this is.
Image: Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, Jean François Leblanc