Once a year the city of Cape Town, in South Africa, hosts the Cape Town International Jazz Festival. It is related to North Sea Jazz Festival held in the Netherlands, and was first called the Cape Town North Sea Jazz Festival until 2005.
The first festival was held in 2000 and since then has grown to become the fourth largest jazz festival in the world even surpassing the Montreaux Festival in Switzerland and even the Netherlands North Sea Jazz Festival. It is also the largest jazz festival in Africa.
In 2014 the festival will enter its 15th year. This festival is held for two days on 5 different stages.
In its first year, the event attracted 2,000 participants but has grown to 34,000 in 2013. For this reason, it is also known as Africa’s Grandest Gathering. It has almost become a pilgrimage for jazz lovers around the world. It was held at the Cape Town International Convention Center. The festival has also grown to become an important part of the city’s economy in Cape Town. In 2010 directly contributed R740 million (approximately $70,000,000).
The festival always starts by providing a free open air concert for the city’s people. This open concert was held at Greenmarket Square.
Actors come from all over the African continent and the world. Past years cast include; Youssou N’Dour, Hugh Masekela, Herbie Hancock, Dianne Reeves, Ravi Coltrane, India Arie, Floetry, Miriam Makeba, Stanley Clarke, Buena Vista Social Club, Jill Scott, and Courtney Pine. While this festival has a distinctly South African stamp, it wouldn’t be wrong to say it’s an eclectic mix of global culture and musical influences are showcased here.
While mostly jazz festivals, this event offers something for every musical taste. There are performances by contemporary artists in genres such as rock and electro. There are also art exhibitions as well as various workshops on offer. The full program is usually posted on the event’s website several months before the event. However, due to the short duration and large scale of the festival, many people complained that there were too many scheduling conflicts between popular artists, and thus were forced to miss some shows for the sake of others. Hopefully in the coming years this event will be held a few more days.
In South Africa tickets can be purchased from Shoprite Checker outlets, Computicket outlets and from Computer website. Tickets outside of South Africa can be purchased on the Computicket website. Due to the size and popularity of the event, it is recommended to buy tickets as soon as possible (even before flights) as they can sell out quickly. Ticket prices are based on a day pass which allows entry to all events. There are also Rosies tickets for select shows. Ticket prices are reasonable. For example, in 2014 a day pass cost R490 (about $49) and a Rosie ticket was R30 (about $2). ATM as well as foreign exchange available on site. This festival is usually held during late summer/early fall in South Africa. This time of year it is usually still warm and sunny in Cape Town, but it is recommended to pack a few sweaters for cool mornings and evenings and some rain gear as this is the start of Cape Town’s rainy season.
For transportation around the city available car rental. There are also many shuttle service companies available for those who don’t want to drive themselves. Traffic to the venue can be severe so many opt to hire shuttles to ensure a stress free time.
The Cape Town International Convention Center, where the event is being held, is located on Long Street. Long Street is a famous street in Cape Town for its many great bars, restaurants, hookah bars and shopping malls. This can be best described as a bohemian hangout in the heart of Cape Town. So one can take a break from the music (or just extend your stay) to take a walk and buy some keepsakes and sample different restaurants. Memorabilia from the event is also for sale at the concert venue.
There are many hotels and inns in Cape Town. However, it is also advised to make these reservations as soon as possible as they can fill up with festival goers.