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International Jazz Festivals Worth Planning a Trip Around

The ultimate itinerary for the jazz jet set.


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International jazz festivals provide the perfect place for fans from all over the globe to gather and take in the sounds, sights, and experiences of their community. The following three cities are also home to world-class cuisine, cocktails, accommodations, and shopping, so you can indulge all of your epicurean impulses in one go.

XJazz Berlin: May, 2019

The most esoteric of the world’s Jazz Festivals, XJazz is also one of the youngest. Established in 2014, the event embraces innovation and collaboration with concerts that marry sound with performance art levels of production. Take, for example, past pairings such as the one between pianist and composer Lambert (who performs in a mask) and ambient DJ Martin Stimming.

The Festival is held in the nightclubs of the Berlin-meets-Brooklyn Kreuzberg neighborhood, which is also full of galleries, street food, and Turkish markets. For more upscale but still artistic accommodations, check in to the 25 Hours Hotel Bikini Berlin. The rooftop Monkey Bar boasts a view of the Berlin Zoo (and lineups that extend past the lobby, but hotel guests can jump the queue).

Festival International du Jazz de Montreal: June 27 to July 6, 2019

The biggest jazz fest in the world, Montreal is also celebrating its big 4-0 in 2019. The event attracts a young, hip crowd thanks to a diverse lineup as well as free concerts at the Place des Arts. Last year’s highlights included The War on Drugs, R&B artist Jessie Reyez, and iconoclastic Belgian vocalist Melanie De Biasio.

The big change for the 2019 edition is that the outdoor shows will also be popping up in neighborhoods all over town. This is a big boon for fans who also like to indulge in fantastic cuisine. Make your reservations now for the summer fare at such legendary restaurants as chef Normand Laprise’s Toqué in the Quartier international, Joe Beef in Notre-Dame West, and Au Pied au Cochon in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal.

Montreux Jazz Festival: 28 June to 13 July 2019

Montreux is not only one of the most important events on the international Jazz calendar, it’s also one of the biggest music festivals of any genre. For example, last summer’s main events included concerts by goth crooner Nick Cave and all-star tribute to Quincy Jones.

For 2019, the headliner is Elton John. His three shows are already sold out (another reason to plan your Jazz pilgrimage in advance). Just as John is revered for his music and his outlandish attire, festival-goers in Montreux have no problem mixing bebop and shopping. Haute horology watchmakers Parmigiani Fleurier are sponsors of the event and each year they release a limited-edition Montreux Jazz Festival timepiece. Last year it was the bold, black Tonda Metrographe MJF Special Edition—a much sweeter souvenir than a concert t-shirt any day.


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