Each May, the streets of Brussels are filled with the sweet sounds of music. 2016 is the 21st year of the Brussels Jazz Marathon, and a host of big names from the local and international scenes are set to perform. Commencing from Friday 20th May, five open air stages will pop up in the Belgian capital’s most iconic locations to showcase the best emerging and established artists in jazz, world, Latino, funk and blues, with many of the city’s clubs, bars and cafés putting on more intimate concerts too.
Imagine the scene – a warm spring evening, the fresh fragrance of flowering blossom still hanging in the air as the sound of a soulful saxophone melody hits your ears and a series of unforgettable concerts begins.
More than 250 unique performances will take place over the course of this European jazz festival – both on the main stages at Grand Place, Sablon Square, Sint-Katelijne Square, F. Cocq Square and Place du Luxembourg, and across 87 indoor venues throughout the city. With over 700 musicians taking part, jazz fans won’t be short of options, and the best part is that admission is free across all venues, meaning spectators can come and go as they please.
Acts confirmed for this weekend ‘jazzathon’ include the cosmopolitan European Jazz Unit, Les Fanfarettes, LD & the Soul Counsellors, Kapok, The Soul Messiahs, Del Vita Group, Lorenzo di Maio’s Black Rainbow and Yves Peeters Gumbo. The family-friendly event also treats kids to a special Mini Marathon on the Saturday, featuring activities, workshops, balloons and ice cream to accompany the unmissable music.
Drawing music fans in from all over Europe and further afield, the budding dancers have plenty of chances to move their feet throughout the Marathon too. Each evening, La Tentation will hold ‘Swingin’ Brussels’, so you can boogie the night away to 1920s swing, electro swing and lindy hop classics.
Showcasing some of the most outstanding homegrown and international talent around, Brussels Jazz Marathon is renowned for bringing together the genre’s elite. Past years have seen the Belgian event draw crowds of up to 250,000 for an electric atmosphere, but the city copes well with the mass influx of people. There are free shuttle buses every 20 minutes on Friday and Saturday until 10pm, while the Brussels’ Noctis night bus network runs until 3am for the late revellers.
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Main image courtesy of Eddy Berthier on Flickr.