The TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival (June 22-July 1) is the city’s biggest music and culture event of the year, with 300 concerts, 1,800 performers and a half-million spectators.
The annual fete – now in its 27th year – brings in big name jazz and blues stars from around the globe. This year’s festival features 10-time Grammy-winning guitarist George Benson, legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter and blues rockers Robert Randolph and the Family Band, just to name a few standouts.
The best part? Many of the acts throughout the 11-day festival are absolutely free. Here’s a rundown on where to find top names and local talent free of charge at this year’s event:
- Downtown Jazz Weekend, June 23-24: The festival opens this year with a weekend of free concerts in the heart of downtown at the Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza and Robson Square. Three stages feature live music starting at noon, with the final act going on at 7:30 p.m. There are also two licensed bistros on site, plus family activities and free dance lessons. Headliners this year include salsa bands Mazacote and Rumba Calzada, as well as local folk favorite Headwater and Grammy winning singer Van Hunt.
- Granville Island Jazz, June 22-July 1: Stop by the Granville Island Public Market stage for free concerts (mainly traditional jazz trios) every day at noon and 1:10 p.m. Nearby, Performance Works offers freebies at 1:30 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. daily. Plus on Canada Day (July 1), Granville Island explodes with free music from noon to 9:30 p.m. on four separate stages. Canada Day headliners include funky saxophonists Shuffle Demons and R&B favourites Soultrax.
- Jazz Around Town, June 22-July 1: An extraordinary diversity of free jazz, blues, folk and world music is on tap at venues around the city throughout the festival. Stop by City Square (12th and Cambie) June 22-July 1 for free afternoon jazz at 1:30 p.m. and 2:40 p.m. Canada Place also hosts free concerts from June 22-June 30 at noon and 1:10 p.m. There are also great offerings at St. Andrews United Church and Tom Lee Music.
- David Lam Park Jazz Weekend, June 30-July 1: As in years past, the Jazz Fest comes to a wild close with another weekend of totally free music at Yaletown’s David Lam Park. High-energy funk, jazz and world music runs from noon to 8:45 p.m. on the main stage. Headliners this year include En Karma, a live bhangra dance band, and The Boom Booms, a six-piece Latin-soul-funk-rock-reggae band.
Any more can’t-miss free acts at the jazz festival? Please let us know!