Travel Blog

29 Jun

Your 2016 guide to surviving the Montréal Jazz Festival

We don’t just want you to survive at the 37th edition of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, we want you to thrive. With your good time in mind, we’ve put to together the following guide comprised of handy dos and don’ts and other valuable info tidbits about the Jazz Festival that will help you maximize your time at one of the most spectacular music experiences on the planet.

What you’re getting into:

In a nutshell, more amazing music and fabulous fun than should be legally allowed. From June 29 to July 9, Montreal’s downtown Quartier des Spectacles will host the largest Jazz Festival in the world. Get ready for 11 eye-widening and ear-pleasing days of ticketed indoor concerts – which this year will feature can’t miss blue-chip artists such as Rufus Wainwright, Melody Gardot, Kool The Gang, Wynton Marsalis, Lauryn Hill, Noel Gallagher, Oliver Jones, Cat Power and Joe Jackson among many others – and approximately 350 free outdoor shows and activities that draw around 2 million visitors every year.

Festival international de jazz

When you arrive at the festival site:

Don’t be surprised if, when you go to enter the festival site, someone asks to look in your bag. This is for your safety and that of others to ensure that nothing dangerous or disallowed makes its way into the crowd. Speaking of which…

Stuff you should leave at home:

There are a few prohibited items that won’t be allowed onsite. These include alcoholic beverages (the site is scattered with kiosks for beer, wine and mixed drinks, as well as numerous patios and restos should you feel like catching a bite or taking a load off) and glass and aluminum containers. Also all pets except service dogs, folding and portable chairs, and bicycles and skateboards. However…

If you want to bike, skateboard or rollerblade to the festival:

Go for it. There are two free bicycle parking areas that can fit upwards of 450 bikes. They’re located on Bleury Street, at the corner of de Maisonneuve Boulevard, and at the corner of St. Laurent Boulevard and de Maisonneuve. Cyclists must bring their own lock. These parking areas also come with pigeonhole storage bins for skateboards and inline skates.

festival international de jazz

Where the heck are all these places?:

Now is about the right time to point you towards the very useful Festival site map, which shows the locations of all essential festivalgoer services and outdoor concert stages as well as street names.

Important stuff to bring:

Like any other large-scale festival, there are a few essentials, with some more essential than others. First on the list would be comfortable walking shoes, as you will likely do a lot of walking from stage to stage. Loose, light clothing – it can get very hot in Montreal at this time of the year – as well as a head covering or hat and sunscreen are highly recommended, as well as a reusable water bottle to keep hydrated. A rain poncho will also prove invaluable in case of inclement weather. And if you have a pair, binoculars also come in handy, as does a programme of what’s happening: the printable concerts schedule will tell you who’s performing at what time and where.

For the little jazz fans in your entourage:

The Jazz Fest always has something special for the kids, including kid-curated concerts, outdoor games and interactive activity stations, circus performers, magicians and more at the Rio Tinto Family Club on the esplanade of Place des Arts (each day from noon to 10 pm). New this year is the Rio Tinto Musical Park, a space tailor-made for families and featuring novel musical activities designed “to take the central components of music and transform them into tangible, inspiring and fun activities.” Also face painting and a juice bar. Additionally, the Family Club offers a free loan of anti-noise headsets conceived especially for children. Stroller loans are also available as are changing tables and special nursing areas for infants.


All that jazzing giving you the munchies (or the thirsties)?:

In addition to a plethora of on-site offerings, Montréal offers an incredible wealth of food and drink options in the blocks that surround the site, with diverse eateries downtown, in Chinatown, on St. Laurent Boulevard and Old Montréal an easy walk away.

If you lose something, don’t panic:

The Jazz Fest crowd is invariably a very friendly and socially conscious crowd so there’s a decent chance you may get it back. If you lose something, contact the festival team at (514) 288-1971 or at objetstrouves@equipespectra. You will also want to check at the three Info-Jazz kiosks, where lost-and-founds are located. What is an Info-Jazz kiosk you ask?

Info-Jazz kiosks:

This trio of kiosks is your information lifeline (see the site map for locations). Open from noon until midnight, these kiosks have the goods on all fest activities, general Montréal tourist information, daily programming updates and will assist you if you’ve been separated from loved ones. Also jam-packed with all the info you need for a successful fest is the Jazz Montréal Mobile App, which this year features a new tool that will allow you to find your friends on the massive outdoor site.

And because, as we said, your survival is important to us:

There are two first aid stations. One is located on the west side of the site, on Jeanne Mance Street, between de Maisonneuve Boulevard and President Kennedy Avenue (open 12 p.m. to midnight), and the other is on the east side, on Clark Street at the corner of de Montigny Street (open 6 p.m. to midnight).

Up next: No more FOMO – here are the must-see Jazz Fest concerts of 2016


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