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Everything You Need to Know About the Ottawa Jazz Festival

June 17, 2024

Just across from the National Arts Centre, on the other side of the Mackenzie King Bridge, lies one of the most popular green spaces in the nation’s capital. Confederation Park is known not just for its open green vistas and distinctive fountain that – fun fact! – originally stood in Trafalgar Square in London, England. It also plays host to the Ottawa Jazz Festival, one of the most highly anticipated music festivals throughout the country. Ever since the first lick was played in the park 44 years ago, the festival has steadily grown to become a globally renowned celebration of jazz music that attracts talent and patrons from across the globe.

Every year, thousands of concert-goers flock to Confederation Park to witness the Ottawa Jazz Festival. (Image: Curtis Perry)

A Love Supreme: The Origins of Jazz Fest

In 1980, local jazz musician Bob Misener had an idea. After paying a visit to the Toronto Jazz Festival the year prior, Bob envisioned a similar event taking place at Major’s Hill Park in the middle of Ottawa. With the help of fellow musicians Tony Pope and Bill Shuttleworth as well as City Hall and the National Capital Commission, they made that dream a reality, playing on a small stage over the course of one weekend. From these humble beginnings, the festival would eventually evolve into the major cultural event it’s known as today, moving to its current location in Confederation Park in 1989. And while Bob no longer serves as the Jazz Festival’s CEO, he was a consistent mainstay on its talent roster, performing at the festival for 25 years!

Spread out across five different stages at four different venues, Jazz Festival has seen some of the best performers that the genre has to offer grace its stages, including widely known names like Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins and Ornette Coleman just to name a few. Many celebrated jazz performers got their start here while they were still up-and-comers, including Diana Krall, D.D. Jackson and Dave Douglas. And this year, the festival’s talent roster promises to deliver nine nights of truly top-of-the-line entertainment courtesy of acts from Canada and abroad.

The Jazz Festival has consistently had its stages graced with some of the top talent in the genre year after year. (Image: Mike Laviolette)

Artists That Won’t Make You Feel Kind of Blue

Jazz Festival patrons have a wealth of options to choose from when selecting which artists they’d like to see. Those who are interested in supporting artists based out of Ottawa and checking out what the local scene has to offer should treat themselves to a set by Jeff Rogers or The Commotions. For a wholly Canadian listening experience, be sure to catch performances by artists like Kathleen Edwards and Begonia. And every jazz fan in the nation’s capital needs to mark their calendars for the arrival of legendary musicians like George Clinton, Laufey and even Norah Jones! Click here to browse the full 2024 line up.

Check out this graphic or click the link above to familiarize yourself with the hundreds of artists appearing at the festival this year! (Image: Ottawa Jazz Festival)

Aside from Confederation Park, performances will also be held at Marion Dewar Plaza in front of City Hall, the National Arts Centre and The Lord Elgin Hotel. This allows for many more opportunities to experience everything that Ottawa’s Original Downtown has to offer!