Beaches International Jazz Festival
Beaches International Jazz Festival 2014
The 2014 Beaches Jazz Festival is a 10 day free jazz festival held in Toronto, Canada during mid-late July. With roughly 1000 artists performing over 6 main stages including 50 dedicated bands for the “StreetFest” party you can see why some 1,000,000 people come to the festival each year, making it one of Toronto’s most famous festivals.
For over 1,000 hours during the 2nd half of July you’ll be able to find jazz and funk music being played all over Toronto. Most of this years celebrations are held in numerous parks and along the 2km stretch of the beach known as Queen street East but you’ll also be able to find bands jamming in local café’s, restaurants and bars, with nightclubs continuing the festivities well into the early hours.
Despite the fact this festival is free, the artists who perform are world-class and each year you’ll be sure to find some internationally renowned artists perform.
The BIJF really is one of the best free jazz festivals on the circuit. Toronto is a FANTASTIC city and is often ranked in the top 3 for best cities to live in the world, also known as the most youthful city in the world, this only adds to the appeal.
One of the greatest things about the Beaches festival is that each year the festival holds a number of Workshops and Lecture Series geared towards amateurs and professionals alike. I you want to make a start into your jazz education or simply want to hone your skills or improve your music theory then this is the perfect place to do it.
During the festival period some $30 million is generated for the Greater Toronto Area which greatly helps the city council and the local economy.
Many internationally renowned musicians have performed at the Beaches Jazz Fest over the years including David Blamires, Warren Hill, Brian Hughes, Carole Weilsman, Jane Bunnett and Mark Jordan.The Beaches International Jazz Festival was founded in 1989 when a handful of jazz artists were hired to perform at the Kew Beach Bandshell, around 3,000 people attended the first years festival. Bill King has been the Artistic Director of the event since the early years and works alongside Lido Chilelli, the festival’s producer.
Whilst still an International festival, the majority of performer at the BIJF are Canadian and 95% of the visitors that come are from the local area.
Over 1 million people now attend this free festival each year and is known as “North America’s largest free festival”.
- ** 2014 Beaches Jazz Festival faces ‘drastic cuts’ after Province drops funding **
- 2013 Festival Info by CityNews.ca
- 2012 Festival Info & Reviews: Jazz Times | BlogTO (review)
More Photos in the ‘Gallery‘ Tab below.
The 2014 Beaches Jazz Festival lineup has not yet been announced.
Check back regularly for further updates…
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If you’ve heard any rumors of who might be playing or headlining then please leave them in the comments section below.
A sample of the 2013 lineup was as follows:
Jazz Meets Salsa
L’Nai & Free the People
Pan Fantasy Steel Orchestra
Eddie Bullen and the Caribbean Connection
Caribbean Folk Limbo Dancers
Moses Revolution Band and Guest
Carlos del Junco
Bryan Lee & The Power Blues Band
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There are no tickets for the Beaches International Jazz Festival as it’s a FREE event.
There are 4 main venues for the Beaches Jazz Fest all within easy walking/subway distance from each other.
Woodbine Park – Programme
The Woodbine Park is one of the main ‘venues’ and offers the Woodbine Park ‘Main Stage’ alongside the Afro-Beat Stage, introduced in 2013, which offers a host of African and Afro-Caribbean acts.
The Taste of Jazz event (July 22 – 23) is also hosted in the Woodbine Park and provides live jazz performances under the beer tent with gourmet food offered by the local food vendors. It can get cool during the night here so make sure you bring something to keep warm after the sun goes down!
Address: Western edge of the Beach community,
Corner of Northern Dancer Boulevard and Lake Shore Boulevard East (Northern Dancer is between Coxwell and Woodbine Avenues), Toronto, Ontario, Canada
KEW Gardens – Programme
The KEW Gardens venue is host to the OLG Main Stage and Youth Stage. Many people say this is the best place to be during the festival as it hosts many international acts that play and sing very unique sounds.
The Youth Stage is also hosted on the West of the Kew Gardens and this year will feature the National Youth Jazz Combo and the Jazz Workshop Ensembles. Many acts you’ll see perform on the Youth Stage will come from Youth Jazz Canada, a pre-professional training programme for aspiring musicians.
Address: 2075 Queen St E, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Beach Boardwalk – Programme
At the Beach Boardwalk you’ll find a lot of Latin flavors with many Salsa, Merengue and Cumbia sounds and rhythms – well worth spending at least a few hours walking the Boardwalk. You’ll find many national and international bands, dance lessons (some are free) and more.
Address: 1681 Lake Shore Blvd E, Toronto, ON M4L 3W6, Canada
Big Band Stage
Part of the ‘Boardwalk Stages’ the Big Band Stage provides big band music from the 30’s 40’s and 50’s. Located just West of Lee Avenue.
StreetFest – Programme
The Signature event. The StreetFest is on July 24-26 and hosts the finest in BigBand, Dixieland, Funk, Soul, Swing and Jazz music that you’ll find in Toronto. Over 50 Canadian bands are hired for entertainment and 2km of Queen Street East is closed for traffic during the event. You can expect 20-30,000 to attend.
Address: Queen Street East, Toronto, Canada
Food and drink is available all around the Beaches Jazz Festival. The festival has their own dedicated food trucks that offer beautiful ‘festival style’ food. There are many benches to sit down and enjoy food purchased at the event. There are a number of licensed beer gardens around the event, the main ones being adjacent to KEW Gardens and Woodbine Park.
Along Queen Street East you’ll also find a huge amount of places to eat.
If you’re looking to grab a quick bite to eat in and around the festival period then I would recommend checking out reviews and prices of Toronto Restaurants here on Urban Spoon.
The nearest international airport to the Toronto Jazz Festival is the Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) and is located approximately 30km (18 miles) from downtown Toronto.
The cheapest accommodation options I could find in and around downtown Toronto during the festival period (mid-late July) are shown below (Click HERE for a complete list):
*** Hotel prices rise exponentially as you get closer to the festival dates. Book early to avoid disappointment. ***
If you are on a super shoe-string budget then search HostelWorld and get a bed in Toronto for as little as $23.72! – (Private rooms $24.78+)
You might also want to check Toronto hotel reviews on TripAdvisor prior to placing any booking. Alternatively, why don’t you try something different and rent someones apartment during the festival period at AirBnB?! Click here for a free £15 credit towards your first booking!
Note that there is NO TENT CAMPING at the Toronto Jazz Fest. If you are looking for somewhere to camp during the festival period, the nearest camp ground is the Bronte Creek Provincial Park. For a more in-depth look into the available locations head over to The Top 5 Camping Sites in Toronto by Suburban Tourist.
We currently have not been able to interview anybody at the Beaches International Jazz Fest, if you work for the festival and would like to answer a few questions for this section of your listing, please contact me so that we can get something arranged, thank you.
Video Highlights of the Beaches Jazz Festival
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If you’re coming to Toronto for the festival then why not take a few extra days to explore the highlights of Toronto. Niagra falls is only a 90-minute drive away so you could take a trip to see 750,000 gallons of water a second pour over the edge, it’s a lovely place to go at any point of the year.
The CN Tower is a brilliant way to see the city from above and they even offer an ‘edge walk’ (the worlds highest hands free walk) allowing you to get outside and hang over the edge to test your nerve. Whilst you’re up there you could also grab a bite to eat at the 360 restaurant which gives 360 degree views of the city.
If you require any further information on this festival or would like to leave a message for others then please use the comments section below.
NB. You also find photo galleries, live festival news, transport information in the tabbed section below. All festival listings are changing continuously, check back regularly.
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