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This is the Longest Lasting Festival on the Planet!

Most music festivals hit it hard for 3-5 days and then disband. This is usually ample time for attendees to dance until their tongues hang out. But if these festivals usually leave you hanging, try out the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal.

Cayambe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (Montreal International Jazz Music Festival)

Matias Garabedian from Montreal, Canada, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spanning over a whopping eleven continuous days, no other festival even comes close. Summerfest held this title in 1999, but post-pandemic they changed their program to take place over three consecutive weekends instead of eleven days.

Not only is this the world’s longest lasting festival, but also the biggest jazz fest! Clocking in at 1,913,868 people in 2004, nowadays more than 2 million pairs of feet visit the site. Additionally there are 3 000 performers, 20 stages, and more than 600 music shows (of which over half is gratuit!).

Why so Long?

CC0 Public Domain via pxhere

Over these ten days, jazz-enthusiasts from around the globe meet to enjoy more than 600 shows taking place on 20 stages. Jazz broke free from its old-school bar vibes a while back and mixed it up with all sorts of different music styles. Since the 1960’s, traditional jazz has branched off into jazz fusion, Latin jazz, smooth-, world- and electronic jazz.

To garner enough time for all these emerged genres to come to their rights, it’s clear that at least ten days is needed! It’s also here where jazz legends cross paths with new artists who are on the upswing. With its 44th anniversary coming up and a current annual attendee count of over 2 million, this festival has cemented its place among the stars and the records.

Where, When, and What?

The Montreal Jazz Festival keeps close to its roots and takes place in downtown Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It has been a non-profit corporation since 1982 and has a famous habit of hosting over 350 open-air shows at no charge. These shows take place at the specially prepared Place des Festivals.

The official 2024 dates are from 27 June to 6 July, and the festival site is open to the people and closed to traffic until the clock strikes midnight.


Bryan Ledgard, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The opening act will be The Grogans, perforamed by Ocean Alley. Following them will be every conceivable kind of jazz, as well as some blues, soul, and world music. The 2024 program (not part of the free events) looks like this:

  • June 27: Ocean Alley; Ill Considered
  • June 29: Django Festival Allstars; Laufey
  • June 30: Joep Beving; Elisapie
  • July 2: Joshua Redman Group (featuring Gabrielle Cavassa)
  • July 3: Yellow Days
  • July 4: Jesse Cook; Pink Martini; Alfa Mist
  • July 6: Vieux Farka Touré

What else?

Ambiance (photo: Denis Alix) 1995 via the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal Facebook page

If the wow-factor of attending the world’s longest lasting festival wears off, rest your weary Instagram-posting mind at one of these activities:

  • ICI MUSIQUE Karaoke: festivalgoers can have a go at the mic with karaoke songs that were hand-picked by Radio-Canada music radio hosts.
  • L’Espace La Presse: we get it, eleven days is a LONG time. Kick up your feet on some comfy furniture and recharge your (and your smartphone’s) batteries at this resting station.
  • Zones TD: another place to regroup and revive, featuring covered seating, complimentary lockers, ridiculously oversized games and a service counter for attendees.
  • The Blue Note Records Vinyl Corner: “vintage”, meaning old but cool. A temporary on-site record shop features close to a hundred of the finest albums from the iconic Blue Note record label.
  • Fabrique Musicale Rio Tinto: attention, families! This one is for you. After a long day of cultured experience, kids are bound to get antsy. A variety of music-themed interactive activities comes to the rescue from 5pm to midnight. Technology and playtime integrate and give rise to enchanting and whimsical musical installations.
  • Safety first! It’s every parent’s worst nightmare to navigate a massive, confusing festival with little ones. Rio Tinto offers free relief: parents can borrow noise-dampening children’s headphones to soothe overstimulated children. In addition, temporary tattoos and sensorial foam playing blocks are also available. And to give parents peace of mind, specially designed children’s ID bracelets are given to record their contact information.

For more information or to book your ticket, visit the Montreal Jazz Festival website.

Boost your anticipation with this video:

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Inge Strauss