Sydney Jazz Festivals

8 February 2016

Matthew Ottignon, Berry Jazz Festival

Matthew Ottignon, Berry Jazz Festival

Since the musical style made its mark on the world in the first half of the 20th Century, jazz has had a strong following in NSW. And while the popularity of this syncopated music might have waned in the last few decades, there remains a very active community of musicians and aficionados across the state. Sydney and greater New South Wales are home to a great number of venues where Jazz can be heard throughout the week, and the state plays host to a wide range of jazz festivals throughout the year.

Here’s a list of some of our favourite jazz festivals in NSW:

Manly Jazz Festival, 25 September

A veteran of the Jazz festival scene, this beachside suburb has been hosting it’s own street party to celebrate jazz for over thirty years. In the open air and with no entry fee, it’s a must visit for fans of good music or anybody just looking for a day out in the sun, by the water of Manly.

Each year the festival grows in strength, attracting more performers from overseas, among local and national artists. They don’t focus on any single brand of jazz, so there’s something for everyone, from modern solo artists through to Dixieland and big band.

Merimubula Jazz Festival, 13 June

Every year since 1981, over the June long weekend, the town of Merimbula on the Sapphire Coast, at the southern tip of NSW, has played host to the Merimbula Jazz Festival.

Under 5 hours from Wollongong, Merimbula is known for pristine waters, beautiful beaches and incredible seafood, in particular its oysters. Held over four days, the festival features around 150 bands and 700 musicians playing jazz in every style. With a street parade and plenty of food options, this is a charming local music festival in an unbeatable location.

Berry Jazz Festival, 7 May

Berry is a two-hour drive from Sydney. It’s a small town on the NSW South Coast, known for its historic buildings, and rich cultural scene.

In 2015 the town welcomed the inaugural Berry Jazz Festival, which showcased a diverse range of jazz musicians, with styles ranging from solo piano, to vocal, swinging jazz, and Latin music. A partnership with local caterers and the nearby Coolangatta Wine Estate ensured the food and beverage offering matched the quality of the music.

The huge success experienced in their first year is something the organisers will be keen to carry into future offerings, making the Berry Jazz Festival one to watch.

The Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival, 4-15 November

With the support of the City of Sydney, the Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival is a world-class international jazz festival. Held in locations around the city and some venues in greater New South Wales, in 2015 the festival presented music from a diverse range of female artists.

There’s a strong international component and a loose interpretation of what constitutes ‘jazz’, allowing the curators to present artists working in fields that push live instrumentation in interesting new directions.

There’s plenty to see and do in Sydney!