Thursday, July 3, 2008
Festival International de Jazz de Montreal
All festivals have their own personality but the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal is a truly unique event. Imagine closing down the center of one of the most important cities in the country for 9 days to put on 500 individual concerts including 350 free events. The festival pulls in hundreds of thousands of people for these events and they all behave in a completely civil manner towards each other while drinking copious amounts of beer and wine. The food is pretty good too, highlighted by delicious crepes and barbecued sausages, although the Montreal Jazzfest has a long way to go to compete with the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on that front. The entertainment is a brilliantly conceived cross section of jazz, folk, blues, pop, hip-hop, world music and children's music. It is the only festival I know of that casts its nets so wide, surpassing even Bonnaroo by being extremely kid-friendly. Because it's in the city center you don't have to camp out for three days to hear the music, either.