Every year at this time of the summer, the Jazz Festival rolls into town. This year, it is the 34th edition. That is right, 34 years! This is one of the premier events in the cities summer line-up of festivals.
However, this is one of the last festivals still around that puts Montreal on the International map. The two other big ones are: the Formula One race and The Just for Laughs Festival. Once upon a time, we had an International Film Festival, but that went down the 401.
And International it is. We really do have people who come from around the globe, just to converge on the Jazz fest. It also occupies a good slot on the calendar, for it butts up against July 1st and July 4th.
Because of this, we have many Americans coming up here to attend the Jazz fest, while staying here until July 4th – and some beyond. Many people from outside the province will also come here because it is a long weekend – July 1st, Canada Day – and will enjoy the festival as well.
All these tourists bring in lots of money for the service industry and fill up an otherwise empty downtown core on the weekends.
The Jazz fest really comes to a crescendo in the evening time. If you are not a fan of large crowds, the Jazz fest is not for you. Thousands of people congregate in an area of a few city blocks.
The mood is very festive and i have never heard of anything bad happening. Of course, you are going to have people who tend to drink to much, but there is always a good Police presence.
If you are hungry, there are plenty of restaurants around the area. Mind you, they will all be packed like sardine cans. You can always move West on St. Catherines where there are more restaurants to choose from, or you can go south of the venue into Chinatown.
I am by no means a big Jazz fan. As a matter of fact, i can only put up with a small sample of any kind of Jazz music. Though, the Jazz fest itself has kind of morphed into a more eccentric mix of Jazz and other flavours of music genres.
Again, i am not Jazz fan, so I do not understand what brings people back every year. I guess one attraction is the vibe and the good night life surrounding the event. For me, if you have seen on Jazz fest, you have seen them all.
If you are new to the festival, don’t even bother bringing your car. Take public transit. A Metro (subway) station stops right at the venue itself.
Because of the thousand people deep crowds, be very aware of your valuables in your pockets. Also, plan an exit strategy in case an emergency situation arises. I always tend to stay at the edge of crowds.
I am a parent myself and i take my daughter down, but i take her in the afternoon when the crowds are very small and there is not much going on. There may be a few acts playing; but as i said before, things don’t start rocking until after dinner time. With the big crowds in the evening, it just is not the best place to bring small kids. They can easily get lost if they get out of your sight for just a few seconds.
Of course, bring your camera! Lot’s of great photo ops down at the venue, especially during the afternoon. In the evening, you really are going to need a fast lens. You can probably get away with a regular lens like the 18-105, but you will need to boost your ISO and keep it wide open. You need a fast shutter speed to get the action on the stage.
As always at venues and festivals such as this, things are very expensive. Don’t bother bringing a huge bag to put a bunch of food and drinks in. That bag will get searched and any glass containers or alcohol will be confiscated at the entrance.
Besides, you really don’t want to be wading through the crowds with a big bag anyhow. Travel light.
Respect the venue as well. I like to have a clean city. There are plenty of trash cans around, so use them. Respect your fellow festival goers as well. Everyone is there to have a good time, let’s keep the festival… festive!
If you enjoy Jazz, night life, people from around the world and a festive atmosphere, the Jazz Festival is for you. And if you like, you can come back year after year.