Beaches International Jazz Festival, July 16-25, 2010
Mark July 16-25, 2010 in your calendars for the 22nd Annual Beaches International Jazz Festival celebrating the best of Canadian and international jazz music. This completely free outdoor community event in East Toronto goes from strength to strength each year, whatever the weather, with both the Streetfest and stage bands increasing in quality and number. Creative Director, Bill King, does an incredible job each year of booking top-flight musicians on a shoestring budget. It’s still mainly about our local Beaches community and the musicians, however, just like locally based musicians exporting their talent around the globe, outside talent is brought in. If you have never attended this event, don't be put off by the "jazz" moniker if that is not your thing. While the focus is on jazz music, rock, funk,soul, blues, latin,afro-cuban and swing music are all equally well represented. You know when the Louisiana Tourist Board sets up a booth at the festival to attract visitors, you've got something special going on.
Stage performances are the core of the festival, with headliners performing at the bandshell in Kew Gardens, and Woodbine Park focusing on rising stars. A new stage has been added this year -Latin Square - close to the Boardwalk devoted to Latin sounds and all the frenetic action that comes with it.
From Thursday to Saturday evenings of the festival, Streetfest turns the heart of the Beaches into a long pedestrian mall. 50 bands line the streets for over 2 kilometers along Queen Street East, running from Woodbine Avenue to Beach Avenue. In recent years almost one million people have come to this East Toronto festival as a whole.
I am always astounded at the number of young people enjoying the bands right along with parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, younger siblings and even dogs. Dancing and singing along are encouraged and with such an eclectic audience, people watching is almost as much fun as listening to the music. If you are crowd-averse, go mid-week for a little more elbow room. That said, the dense weekend crowds create their own exciting atmosphere. Remember to bring your loonies, toonies and small bills for snacks, drinks, and donations to local non-profit groups.
For a full schedule of events, go to www.beachesjazz.com