Named the largest jazz festival in the world in 2004 by the Guinness Book of World Records, Montreal Jazz Festival organizers claim the fest attracts roughly 2.5 million visitors to every edition, offering attendees the choice of hundreds of concerts spread out over 11 days.
The Montreal Jazz Festival 2018 dates are June 28 to July 7, 2018, with pre-opening shows anticipated on June 26 and post-closers on July 8, 2018. The best part? Most of those shows are free of charge, that is roughly two-thirds of the fest's programming. There are also special activities geared towards kids and the whole family, also generally free.
All That Jazz? It's a Bit of a Stretch
Covering the gamut of jazz genres since its debut edition in 1980, the fest also features related genres such as blues, Latin jazz, soul, Brazilian, Cuban, African, rhythm and blues, reggae, and electronica.
Rock, pop, and every other genre you could possibly dream of end up on the roster too, to the ire of more than a few purists who lament the Montreal Jazz Festival not being jazzy enough. But there's something to be said about keeping an open mind. Ironically, it's the non-jazz shows that have arguably made the Montreal Jazz Festival as big as it is.
The astute-minded might also point out that crowds wouldn't be in the seven figures without all of those free, taxpayer-funded shows coupled with the festival's auspiciously centralized location.
But if pure, unadulterated jazz is all that you seek, then head to Montreal's hottest jazz clubs either before, during, or after the festival. International talent will fill Montreal during fest time and amazing jazz is guaranteed, whether you're looking for freestyle, standards, covers, or new compositions—it's all there.
Free Outdoor Shows: A Montreal Jazz Festival Tradition
A blessing to music fans on a budget, hundreds of free shows are held at the Montreal Jazz Fest's downtown hub. A full scheduled line-up of music will make all jazz lovers rejoice.
Memorable Montreal Jazz Highlights
The Montreal Jazz Festival features an almost countless roster of best-of moments and memories. An eclectic bunch of A-listers, up-and-comers, and jazz icons have passed through Montreal. Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Charlie Haden, Ray Charles, B.B King, Oliver Jones, Aretha Franklin, and Pat Metheny are among the fest's most lauded performers.
There were unforgettable Prince appearances, a free outdoor Stevie Wonder show, and Tony Bennett gracing audiences year after year. Then, there were the years that Diana Krall got discovered, iconic Allen Toussaint tickled the ivories, or Earth, Wind & Fire raked music over the coals even 40 years after their first hits were released.
From Out of Town? Here's Where to Stay
Looking to stay in Montreal, hotels in town can range from accommodations at every price point within a ten-minute walk of the festival's outdoor site. For big spenders, consider booking a room or suite at one of Montreal's five-star hotels. For a fun stay at a slightly more affordable price, check out Montreal's hottest boutique hotels.
If you want to mix jazz with a little bit of old-world charm, then you might want to go for more of a European-style experience at Old Montreal's top-rated hotels. It's a bit more of a walk to the festival, but you can easily call a cab or hop on the subway. Both means of transportation shouldn't take more than 10 to 15 minutes from the historic center.