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Montreal International Jazz Festival
Festival International de Jazz de Montréal at night
Location(s)Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Coordinates45°30′N 73°34′W / 45.500°N 73.567°W / 45.500; -73.567
Years active1980–present
FoundersAlain Simard
Attendance2,000,000 (2023, 10 days total)
Capacity200,000 (all stages combined)

The Montreal International Jazz Festival is an annual jazz festival held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Montreal Jazz Fest holds the 2004 Guinness World Record as the world's largest jazz festival.[1] Every year it features roughly 3,000 artists from 30-odd countries, more than 650 concerts (including 450 free outdoor performances), and welcomes over 2 million visitors (12.5% of whom are tourists) as well as 300 accredited journalists. The festival takes place at 20 different stages, which include free outdoor stages and indoor concert halls.[1]

A major part of the city's downtown core is closed to traffic for ten days, as free outdoor shows are open to the public and held on many stages at the same time, from noon until midnight. The "festival's Big Event concerts typically draw between 100,000 and 150,000 people",[2] and can occasionally exceed 200,000.[3] Shows are held in a wide variety of venues, from relatively small jazz clubs to the large concert halls of Place des Arts. Some of the outdoor shows are held on the cordoned-off streets, while others are in terraced parks.


Rouè-Doudou Boicel founded the Rising Sun Festijazz, Montreal's first blues & jazz festival in 1978.[4] There were also other previous jazz festivals in Montreal, including the 3-day Jazz de Chez Nous festival in 1979, created by Montreal bassist Charlie Biddle.[5]

The Montreal Jazz Festival (later: Montreal International Jazz Festival) was conceived by Alain Simard, who had spent much of the 1970s working with Productions Kosmos bringing artists such as Chuck Berry, Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and others to Montreal to perform. In 1977, Simard teamed up with André Ménard and Denyse McCann to form an agency named Spectra Scène (now known as L'Équipe Spectra), with the idea of creating a summer festival in Montreal that would bring a number of artists together at the same time.[6]

They planned their first festival for the summer of 1979. Unable to secure sufficient funding, their plans were scuttled, but they still were able to produce two nights of shows at Théâtre-St-Denis featuring Keith Jarrett and Pat Metheny.

Starting on May 10, 1980, a Montreal Jazz Festival was staged, with funding from Alain de Grosbois of CBC Stereo and Radio-Québec.[7] With Gary Burton, Ray Charles, Chick Corea, and Vic Vogel on the bill, and an attendance of 12,000, the event was deemed a success and has continued to grow since then.[8]

In 2000, the Festival teamed up with Distribution Select to release its 4-CD box set called Over 20 years of music – Plus de 20 ans de musique. The box includes a 13-page booklet with the artists' biographies and complete liner notes about the music.[9]

In 1999, a group of Montreal jazz musicians disenchanted with the Montreal International Jazz Festival's lack of support for and showcasing of Montreal jazz musicians created an alternative festival called L'OFF Festival de Jazz de Montreal. The alternative festival continues as an annual, week-long jazz festival in Montreal, programmed largely by musicians.

In 2020, for the first time in its 40-year history the International Montreal Jazz Festival was cancelled, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in what would have been its 41st edition.[10]

In 2021, because of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, it was announced that the 41st edition would be postponed until the autumn, and would be reduced to 5 days, with limited outdoor performances, whilst indoor shows would be put on hold until 2022. The possibility of outright cancellation remained.[11]


Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

A number of albums have been recorded live at the festival, including:

Charlie Haden, The Montreal Tapes – recorded in 1989

Concours de Jazz

Established in 1982, the Concours de Jazz is an annual competition held at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. The competition takes place between Canadian groups performing original music, and is part of the festival's outdoor program. Throughout its history the prize has been awarded to many of Canada's most prominent jazz musicians.[12]

Name changes



  1. ^ a b "About – Festival International de Jazz de Montréal". Montreal International Jazz Festival. 2017. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  2. ^ "Stevie Wonder Ignites Montreal Jazz Festival With Classic Grooves, Salutes to Michael Jackson". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2017-08-23.
  3. ^ Off the Tourist Trail: 1,000 Unexpected Travel Alternatives. DK. 17 August 2009. p. 69. ISBN 978-0-7566-6840-2.
  4. ^ "Rouè-Doudou Boicel". 11 May 2018.
  5. ^ Jazz, All About (12 April 2003). "Charlie Biddle: Father of Montreal Jazz Festival". All About Jazz. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  6. ^ "L'Équipe Spectra - Production partners". Retrieved 2017-08-23.
  7. ^ Considine, J. D. (2015-02-24). "Alain de Grosbois was a quiet force behind Canadian jazz". Retrieved 2017-08-23.
  8. ^ "Festival international de Jazz de Montréal". Retrieved 2017-08-23.
  9. ^ "Balmore Estrada et Nueva Sensacion". Archived from the original on 2013-12-08. Retrieved 2013-03-23.
  10. ^ "Just for Laughs postpones, JazzFest, FrancoFolies, Velo Quebec cancel summer 2020 festivals". 3 April 2020.
  11. ^ "Montreal's summer Jazz Fest has been scheduled for the fall". 21 April 2021.
  12. ^ "Festival international de Jazz de Montréal - TD Grand Jazz Award". Retrieved 2017-08-23.
  13. ^ "TD Grand Jazz Award". Montreal Jazz Fest. Retrieved 22 August 2017.