Montreal Jazz Festival: World's Biggest + Best Jazz Fest, Every Summer

If you love jazz or summer festivals, this is the place to be

Montreal Jazz Festival, world's biggest and best
© Montreal Jazz Festival/Jean-François Leblanc

Why Consider Going to the Montreal Jazz Festival?

The Montreal Jazz Festival, founded in 1980, is now considered by most "jazzbos" to be the world's biggest and best jazz fest. (Full disclosure: I go every year.)

In 2016, the Montreal Jazz Festival will swing from June 29 through July 9.

In late June and early July -- French Canada's loveliest, liveliest season -- the festival takes over an entire neighborhood of downtown Montreal, one of North America's greatest cities.

•  Watch our slideshow of Montreal's best neighborhoods and sights 

The festival's hundreds of concerts – free and ticketed – draw the world’s grooviest, swingin'-est lovers of the eternally cool music known as jazz.

Who Plays at the Montreal Jazz Festival

Everyone who's anyone in jazz has played the Montreal Jazz Festival. The fest's deftly produced concerts showcase the revered lions of jazz as well as emerging stars. In past years you could've caught unknowns like Norah Jones, Michael Bublé, Diana Krall and...see what other superstars started out here.

The Music at the Montreal Jazz Festival

Montrealers take their jazz seriously. The festival's variety of musical styles is invigorating, the level of playing is stratospheric, and the acoustics are perfection. Apart from one massive theater (the Wilfred Pelletier), Montreal Jazz Festival concert venues are intimate.

No matter what kind of jazz you dig, you'll find your fave at the Montreal Jazz Fest: straight-ahead, bebop, big band, swing, blues, Dixieland, New Orleans, jazz-rock fusion, gypsy guitar, acoustic guitar, cabaret, salsa, reggae, klezmer, Afrobeat, CuBop, bossa nova, ska, scat, soul, funk, techno, electronica, house, DJ overdubs…and more.

What Montreal Is Like During the Montreal Jazz Festival

The bilingual French Canada metropolis known as Montreal is one of the world's most international cities. Its standard of living is high and its pleasures are sophisticated. Montreal's dining is adventurous, its performing arts tops, its museums innovative, its design scene inspired, and its passions for both jazz and (yes) hockey are fervent.

The Jazz Festival in late June and early July is an inspired time to visit Montreal. Balmy, sunny days and deliciously cool nights seduce the entire city into party mode, and high-spirited Montrealers revel nonstop -- on the festival grounds, in Mont-Royal Park, in the cool Plateau and St-Henri neighborhoods, and along the historic waterfront of the St. Lawrence River.

Come Up from the U.S., and If You Drive, Bring Your Pet!

In a few words: the Montreal Jazz Festival in late June through early July is a fantastic time to visit this great city. And because the jazz fest always coincides with the United States's Fourth of July weekend, it's easy for Americans to visit.
• Montreal is just a few hours' drive from the Northeast (five from Boston, six from New York
• You can hop an Air Canada flight nonstop to Montreal's Dorval International Airport
• And if you drive, bring your pet! Montreal is a wonderfully pet-friendly city. Many of its hotels observe very pet-friendly hotel policies. And all you need to show Customs to bring your dog or cat over the Canadian border is a rabies vaccination certificate from yur pet's veterinarian, dated within the past three years

What Else Is Happening in Montreal During Jazz Fest Time 

 Montreal is at its liveliest percolates with outdoor doings -- cafés, concerts, fairs, parades, Canada Day fireworks on July 1, and -- not least -- the festival's free concerts.

Half a million Montrealers and visitors crowd the Place des Arts for the "Grand Spectacle," an outdoor extravaganza with a superstar headliner and worldwide attention. Be there.

Where Luxury Travelers Can Stay Near the Montreal Jazz Festival

Montreal's hotels are some of the finest in North America. These gracious and refined hotels are set a short walk from the Montreal Jazz Festival grounds: in the
• Sunny, stylishly renovated InterContinental Montreal, a scenic 15-minute walk from the festival
• The very cool (yet warm) loft-style boutique Hotel Gault in the atmospheric, stylish Old Port area
• Moderately priced, pet-friendly Square Phillips, three blocks from the festival's center, the Place des Art

Where to Find Out More About Marvelous Montreal and the Montreal Jazz Festival

• Montreal Jazz Festival website
• Program and ticket info: dial 85jazzfest (855.299.3378)
• Official site of Montreal travel
• Montreal Jazz Festival on Facebook
• On Twitter (@MtlJazzFestival)
• On YouTube (@MtlJazzFestival)
• From Luxury Travel's dining critics, where to eat in Mmmontreal!