The last night of Montréal Jazz Festival, officially known as Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, closed on Sunday after eleven days of free and outdoor concert events, ticketed attractions, and lots and lots (and lots) of roaming spectators across the grounds at Place des Arts in Montréal.
The 35th edition of this annual summer festival did not disappoint. The lineup of free and outdoor, or ticketed (with fees) events included a range of artists that were not only rooted in jazz but meandered into the other usual genres such as pop, hip hop and rock. This year’s participants had heavy hitters such as Cassandra Wilson, Angélique Kidjo, Keith Jarrett, married couple Elvis Costello and Diana Krall (who performed individual events), Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, and Mulatu Astatke; Canadians Rufus Wainwright, Nikki Yanovsky, Coeur de Pirate, Barenaked Ladies, and Michael Bublé; and contemporaries represented by Snoop Dogg, Of Montreal, St. Vincent, frequent participant Ben Harper, Bonobo, and Deltron 3030 who closed the festival with a free outdoor concert.
My favourite time to visit the Jazz Fest is on a weekend evening where there is a constant rotation of free performances across the festival grounds, and colourful lights illuminate the surrounding buildings creating a beautiful effect. Yep, it’s crowded as an ant farm but hey, this is summer time in Montréal where the humming energy of the tourists and residents thaw the city from its previous harsh winter season.
The Jazz Fest is not the only time that the city closes streets for pedestrian use. As previously mentioned, Montréal comes alive in the summer and the constant stream of various events throughout the city means that many streets are closed to cars, not to mention due to the fact the warm months coincide with another infamous Montréal event — construction season. Hence, if you’re visiting Montréal, to explore the city I advise that you ditch the car (and sometimes even the taxis as the roads can be highly congested) and take the métro (subway) or ride a Bixi Bike, or walk around the beautiful European-styled neighbourhoods.
The next major summer festival starts today: Just for Laughs comedy festival until Monday July 28th. Watch out for a post on this year’s event soon.