If you’re reading this, then you’re most likely in Montreal and ready to attend the 32nd Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, the world’s largest jazz festival. It’s a mega event in Montreal, and rivals New Orleans Jazz Fest with its stellar lineup of some of the biggest names in jazz, blues, soul, reggae, and contemporary sounds.
The event, which goes from June 25 to July 4, presents some 800 concerts, both in and out of doors. Alongside a full roster of the most talented musicians from around the world, this year’s festival includes showcase performances by Gizelle Smith, Diana Krall, Youssou N’Dour, Regina Carter, and George Wein. Prince even gave a special performance to kick off the festival. And don’t worry if you don’t have tickets; many of the events are free. For the latest schedule, check out www.montrealjazzfest.com.
Where Is It?
The festival site is in the Quartier de spectacles, in the center of downtown Montreal, just a few blocks away from Vieux Montreal. For a quick reference, the site is centered around Place des Arts and the Musee d’Art Conteporain de Montreal, borderded by St. Laurent Boulevard and De Bleury Street from east to west and Ste. Catherine Street and President-Kennedy Avenue from south to north.
As the streets around the festival are closed to vehicle traffic, the best way to get here is to walk or take public transit. If you’re taking the metro, take the green line to Place-des-Arts, which puts you right there. Once off the train, exit via the Ste. Catherine Street or De Bleury Street. The festival runs from noon till midnight. Keep in mind that alcoholic beverages, glass and aluminum containers, bikes, chairs, and pets are prohibited.
Once You’ve Arrived
As large as it is, the festival is meticulously organized. Once you’ve arrived, you’ll hear music everywhere, so spend an hour or three wandering the site, getting acclimated, and soaking up the music. Box offices and information booths are located throughout the festival site, so you’ll have no problem finding out what is going on and where.
Food, Food, Food
Food is everywhere at the Jazz Festival. After all, Montreal is a foodie town. At the festival, you can indulge in a flavorful array of food services, from burgers to tacos. Food kiosks are located throughout the site, and the festival has three restaurants where you can enjoy a sit-down meal, washed down with a glass of wine. If you want to eat outside the festival, you’ll find plenty of nearby options. Rue Sherbrooke, boulevard de Maisonneuve, and rue Ste Catherine have many restaurants from which to choose.
Now For The Music
The Jazz Festival has a solid reputation for attracting the biggest names in the music world. And this year is no different, and you’ll have a chance to hear a stunning array of top performers. Some of the big names this year include the must-see UK soul/funk singer Gizelle Smith, The B52s, Galactic, Youssou N’Dour, Wanda Jackson, Tony Bennett, Shaolin Temple Defenders, The Roots, Ron Sexsmith, Regina Carter, Afrodizz, Atomic 5, Bela Fleck, Bootsy Collins, Diana Krall, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Hugh Masekala, Marc Ribot, Lee Fields, Marianne Faithfull, and many many more.
Montreal Outside the Festival
Montreal is filled with exciting things to do, steeped with culture and history, rich with restaurants and nightlife, and oozing with an intoxicating joie de vivre. So if you have some more time when not listening to some of the best music on the planet, check out our Top 8 Things To See and Do in Montreal for a primer of this amazing city.
- William Travis