The Toronto Jazz Festival is one of the most celebrated festivals in Toronto. The fact that there are three festivals shows that Toronto loves jazz.

  1. Toronto Jazz Festival held by TD Canada
  2. Toronto Downtown Jazz Charity
  3. Beaches International Jazz Festival

Toronto Jazz Festival

The Toronto Jazz Festival was started in 1987 by the Toronto Downtown Jazz Charity to celebrate this genre of music and provide entertainment to the city. The Toronto Jazz Festival was previously known as the DuMaurier Jazz Festival

DuMaurier is a popular cigarette brand, and were forced to change the event name and sponsor when Toronto became a “smoke free city”.  This is where TD Canada Bank stepped in as the new and current sponsor of the festival. 

The Toronto Jazz Festival was then referred to as the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival, but has since lost the word “Downtown” in its title. Over the years, the festival has grown in performances, revenue and actual number of days held.  It currently extends over 10 days.

Toronto Downtown Jazz Charity

The Toronto Downtown Jazz Charity had a dream of bringing jazz to the heart of Toronto and they have surpassed this by any measure. Every June and July for the past 23 years, the Toronto Jazz Festival has seen over 23,000 performers (majority of them Canadian), put on more than 1,700 free events, brought in over $330 million to the Toronto economy and entertained over 7.5 million visitors (500,000 annually).

The Toronto Jazz Festival is different from the Beaches International Jazz Festival in that it is mostly indoor and scattered to different parts of Toronto. Every year it offers something more than the previous year, with performances, vendors and events. 

Famous musicians travel from all across the globe to the Toronto Jazz Festival making it one of the best music jazz festivals in North America. Expect to see great performers such as Maceo Parker, Harry Connick Jr, Mavis Staples plus the Allen Toussaint Band, Angelique Kidjo plus Souljazz, and John Mclaughlin and the 4th Dimension. 

Keep in mind the Toronto Jazz Festival concerts are performed in venues that have an admission fee. Also keep an eye out for contests held near the start and all the way through the Toronto Jazz Festival such as Trivia contests and drawings. 

Beaches International Jazz Festival

The Beaches International Jazz Festival is the proverbial younger brother to the Toronto Jazz Festival. It was started in 1989 in the Beaches region of Toronto and goes on for 4 days honouring Canadian and world jazz. Over the years it has expanded in content as well as attendees. During the Streetfest, you will be sure to hear the sounds from Reggae, Dixieland and rock musicians. 

The Beaches International Jazz Festival is a Toronto summer music and art festival as well as a Toronto summer neighbourhood festival. It is a permanent part of the Beaches and anticipated by locals and tourist alike. 

The largest portion of the Beaches International Jazz Festival is the Streetfest, which closes down a few kilometres of Queen St East for those days. Streetfest has stretches of stages and live bands performing as you make your way down the street. The main stage area is in Kew Gardens and has great free performances from some of your favourite musicians. 

Sponsors of the Beaches International Jazz Festival include Canadian Heritage, Mill St Brewery, Ontario Ministry of Tourism, TD Canada and CTV News.  More than a million people have attended the festival over the years.

Some of the famous names that have performed at the Beaches International Jazz Festival include Dr. Draw, Blackboard Blues Band, Ninja Funk Orchestra, Maya Chilton, The Griffith Hiltz Trio, Warren Hill, Sultans of Strings, Rachelle van Zanten, and The Deanna Bogart Band

There are also several packages put together by tour operators for the duration of the Beaches International Jazz Festival including guided tours of the festival, jazz themed workshops, dinners, dance clubs, and student group offerings. 

Both The Toronto Jazz Festival and Beaches International Jazz Festival celebrate and promote the grooves and fabric of the jazz sound and community. Toronto has become a hot spot for jazz lovers elevating the city’s general reputation around the world. They have also given a lot back to the Toronto economy, bringing in revenue and offering vendor spots to local business.

If you are in Toronto this summer, be sure to swing into the groove and jam out to old and new school jazz sounds.