The Venice Jazz Festival might only have been in existence since 2008, but already it is staking its claim as being one of Europe’s foremost occasions for jazz aficionados. Taking place in this atmospheric city at the end of July, The Veneto Jazz Festival not only features a full series of concerts from both well-established names and promising newcomers, but there are also many further activities. Art exhibitions, DJ sets, readings, conferences and enormously popular Jazz Dinners all feature in the continually evolving programme of events.
It is, of course, the jazz concerts themselves that will predominantly appeal to festival goers and the prestigious events held during the Venice Jazz festival will live up to all expectations. This is especially true when one considers that the concerts regularly take place in such breathtaking venues as La Fenice (pictured above), Malibran, Goldoni and Fondamente Theatres, at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Venice Casino. In 2009, such illustrious names as Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra, the Charles Lloyd Quintet, Richard Galliano, Esperanza Spalding and Paolo Conte were featured performers. There are now about 100 different concerts held in 40 separate venues during the festival.
One of the appealing features of the Festival is the number of outdoor events – often free of charge – which are staged in places such as the iconic Saint Mark’s Square and other delightful locations around this historic city. A series of Cocktail Concerts in the early evenings in the Campo dell’Erbaria in the Rialto have proved to be enormously popular, alongside the Jazz lunches and dinners that take place in some of the city’s largest hotels.
The Venice Jazz Festival has quickly become one of the major aspects of the city’s cultural activities, proving popular with both local inhabitants and visitors alike. The eternal appeal of the Venice setting, coupled with the imaginative and varied programme featuring national and international jazz musicians, means that it is likely to be recognised as one of the world’s premier jazz events in the same way that the Venice Film Festival has cemented its leading position. Certainly, the well-established Venice Jazz Club, working with the regional and city authorities, is determined to ensure that the festival goes from strength to strength during the coming years.
Venice has long been one of the world’s favourite cities and its drawing power has not diminished in the slightest. Be prepared, though, it is rather a bizarre sight when you first stand in Saint Mark’s Square and see an enormous cruise ship passing in the background. The city has become the starting and finishing port for many Mediterranean cruises, with travellers often spending time in the city before or after their holiday.
The main airport, Marco Polo, is just a water taxi ride across the lagoon away from the heart of the city whilst Treviso, where Ryanair, for example, have services, requires only an easy 30 minute bus journey. The bus station, Plaza Roma, is located at a beautiful junction of the Grand Canal, as near to the majority of the hotels as you could wish to be. Hotels in July are going to be very busy so it will be essential to reserve accommodation well in advance. However, this is a part of Italy where visitors have plenty of choice.
For jazz lovers, the combination of great music in such a stunning city must be almost irresistible. The Venice Jazz Festival takes place at the end of July and all the details will be available at on the festival’s official website.