Festi Jazz Mont-Tremblant—Why You Should Go

Festi Jazz Mont-Tremblant—Why You Should Go

Top photo courtesy of Festi Jazz Mont-Tremblant

I go every year to the Montreal International Jazz Festival—I love it. But if you don’t like crowds, or you don’t mind them and just like to go to outdoor music festivals in general, might I suggest a visit to Festi Jazz Mont-Tremblant, a smaller, cozier, more laid-back version of its Montreal cousin.

On happenstance, I visited Festi Jazz Mont-Tremblant last year and liked it so much I decided to sing its praises in a piece I would publish shortly before its next edition, because I think more people would like to know about it. So here goes:

Like the Montreal event, Festi Jazz Mont-Tremblant offers a free-roaming, festive atmosphere, a succession of talented artists performing on various stages at the center of a dynamic, in a touristy area lined with restaurants, boutiques, and outdoor patios.

(photo courtesy of Festi Jazz Mont-Tremblant)

The fundamental difference between both events is size. The Montreal Jazz Festival is possibly the largest jazz festival in the world. In 2023, it hosted more than 650 concerts, 450 of them free, and welcomed 2 million visitors over its 10-day duration; by contrast, Festi Jazz Mont-Tremblant hosted 40 free shows over 5 days, which attracted quite a few people but not too many. Montreal’s version may draw more international stars, but Festi Jazz Mont-Tremblant draws more universal ones—in the night sky! There are millions of them up there!

(photo by Jean-Pierre Dubé)

That’s because of its location— Festi Jazz Mont-Tremblant is nestled within the natural surroundings of the Laurentians, less than a two-hour drive from Montreal, in St-Jovite, a charming town in the municipality of Mont-Tremblant. It’s about a 15-minute drive from the foot of Mont-Tremblant’s popular pedestrian village, which is not to be confused with where Festi Jazz Mont-Tremblant is being held—in St-Jovite.

(photo courtesy of Festi Jazz Mont-Tremblant)

I don’t want to take anything away from the Montreal Jazz Festival—I encourage everyone to check it out— but it’s a big-city attraction. Festi Jazz Mont-Tremblant is more intimate, bucolic, less hectic, and easier to navigate.

Bémol 9 (photo courtesy of Festi Jazz Mont-Tremblant)

There are no long lines for tickets or drinks on the premises where the two main stages are situated. Compared to the Montreal event, beer is cheaper. Parking and a good spot to watch the shows are easier to find. Every show is free, yours to savour in a vacation-like environment like a gift from the jazz gods. And that’s another thing: jazz.

Jazz Fest Mont-Tremblant, founded in 2007 by pianist Luc Hamel who has played the Montreal Jazz Festival, showcases only jazz music, no derivatives. This is a purist jazz event, and although it may not have the drawing power of the Montreal event when it comes to booking big name acts, the artists it assembled for last year’s edition were remarkably good, in some cases, mind-blowing. A sure-bet attraction at this year’s event will be Bémol 9, a 16-member jazz choir and the only big band vocal group in North America. Led by conductor and group founder Vincent Morel, the ensemble’s rich, powerful, intricately-woven vocal arrangements are something to behold live.

Festi Jazz Mont-Tremblant founder Luc Hamel (photo courtesy of Festi Jazz Mont-Tremblant)

This year’s Festi Jazz Mont-Tremblant is celebrating its 17th edition. Like last year, it will feature 40 free concerts across a handful of indoor and outdoor venues. The event will take place July 31 – August 4 at l’Espace public, 885 Rue de St-Jovite, Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, J8E 3J8.

If Festi Jazz Mont-Tremblant sounds like something you might like, you should go. You won’t regret it. Its summery blend of music, nature, and cool musical vibes is intoxicating. Spend a day there or, better yet, stay overnight and spend two days there to really feel the effects of the event’s carefree magic. Consider this advice from a friend who went to Festi Jazz Mont-Tremblant and wrote this appreciation piece in gratitude.

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