Here are the Best Jazz Festivals in the UK
British jazz is having a big breakthrough, with live performances, events and festivals taking place throughout the year all across the UK. And the music we’re hearing is like nothing that’s been heard before. Gone are the days when jazz music was reserved for the elitist crowd. Attitudes have changed amongst today’s fan base, and artists are combining classical jazz standards with nouveau music styles. Bringing together influences from every genre, including elements of Afrobeat, hip hop, dub, garage and grime.
This is truly an exciting time for the UK jazz scene, with new-age musicians forming fresh cultural context and bringing together avant-garde, progressive and experimental with the traditional and the mainstream.
If you’re planning a luxury vacation to the UK and you love discovering new music, these are the jazz festivals not to be missed. You don’t even have to be a diehard jazz fan to enjoy them, as many of them offer excellent musical diversity and plenty of other attractions, as well as fantastic food and drink.
One of the biggest and best music festivals that celebrates a whole multitude of art forms, not just jazz. The main theme is music and literature, making it the ideal festival for culture vultures hoping to unravel some of Great Britain’s high-culture hidden treasures. You can expect the attendance of everyone from politicians to celebrity chefs, and the stage will come to life with everything from jazz and folk to classical performances.
There’s a diverse program of things to do, with more than 120 events taking place across the city.
When: Every year in May and June
Where: Various venues in Bath
Stay: In the southern Cotswolds (home to England’s pretty ‘chocolate box’ villages)
Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Fest
There are so many reasons to add the Scottish capital to your bucket list. From Michelin Star dining and luxury whiskey tasting to the spectacular shopping and nightlife, Edinburgh has something for every type of traveler.
For those who love jazz and blues, make sure you’re in the city during the summer as there will be so many events taking place. From the atmospheric basement Jazz Bar to the grand 19th Century Queen’s Hall concert venue, you’ll be blown away by the music and the surroundings.
When: Every year in July and August
Where: Various venues across the city
Stay: At the majestic Borthwick Castle (30 minutes from Edinburgh)
Brecon Jazz Festival
An annual jazz celebration held every summer in the area of Powys, Wales. The town of Brecon plays host to concerts, workshops and other interesting activities, with all venues easily reachable from the town center. The main meeting point where it’s all happening is the Guildhall Theatre, as well as live performances in the Castle Ballroom, Muse Arts Jazz Club, the Wellington Hotel, and St. Mary’s Church.
The event brings together jazz musicians from all around the world and is organized by local pub owners and artists. Giving festival-goers a taste of both international and regional music scenes.
Whilst you’re here, you’ll be at the gateway to Brecon Beacons National Park, one of the most iconic outdoor destinations in Wales and the UK. On your luxury vacation to Wales, you also won’t want to miss its dazzling capital Cardiff, Snowdonia National Park, and the stunning Pembrokeshire Coast.
When: Every year in early August
Where: Various venues in the center of Brecon
Stay: At The Grove at Narbeth (located less than 2 hours away)
The Love Supreme Festival is one of the south’s most popular jazz events in the summer. Taking place across the course of three days in East Sussex, and also for one day in London, this is a serious celebration of British jazz. Expect top acts in the extensive line-up, some amazing pop-up kitchens for foodies interested in sampling local produce, wellbeing tents, spoken word and poetry tents, a children’s area, a swimming pool area, as well as fantastic shopping. Those who prefer to camp in style can also take advantage of the premium festival passes, giving you access to glamping sites, a premium bar, seating and better shower facilities and toilets.
When: Every year in July
Where: Glynde Place in the South Downs (and also at The Roundhouse in Camden, London)
Stay: At Cowdray House in West Sussex (just over an hour away)
Cambridge Folk Festival
This is considered by many to be Great Britain’s greatest folk festival, with each year getting bigger and more exciting. It’s one of the longest running festivals in the world, and it draws in over 14,000 visitors every single year. From folk music’s big hitters and modern jazz to other genres and sub-genres across four stages, there are plenty of acts to see.
There are weekend tickets available, as well as day tickets for those not wishing to camp or stayover. For food fanatics, the festival food stalls also provide a ‘foodie heaven’, with international delights as well as Brit favorites such as fish and chips.
When: Every year in July or August
Where: On the grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall
Stay: At Ashby Manor House in Northamptonshire (located an hour and a half away)
A world music institution showcasing both old and new, with South African veterans such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo, alluring East African retro-pop, jazz and folk, and world arts and expressive dance. But that’s not all at this event
Try the hotly tipped Estonian fiddler Maarja Nuut, or the hypnotic East African retro-pop of Alsarah & the Nubatones. There’s also a spa if it all gets too much for you, and a vast array of other activities with plenty for the kids, not least the Sunday parade. 27-30 July, Charlton Park, Wiltshire; weekend tickets from £175. womad.co.uk
When: Every year in May and June
Where: Charlton Park House
Stay: In the beautiful Cornwell Manor in the Cotswolds
Liverpool International Jazz Festival
Bringing in artists and musicians from all across the globe and attracting visitors from every age group, including the young and hip crowds, this is a festival for nouveau music fans. Established in 2013 by Liverpool Hope University, this event takes place at their Creative Campus (including the magnificent Capstone Theatre).
Past highlights have been Courtney Pine, Denys Baptiste, Roller Trio, Impossible Gentlemen and Kit Downes, Led Bib, Philip Catherine, GoGo Penguin, Troyka, Neil Cowley Trio and Dennis Rollins’ Velocity Trio.
When: Every year in February
Where: The Creative Campus, Liverpool Hope University
Stay: Around the Peak District area (towns like Buxton are 1 hour 30 minutes away)
City Of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival
Head to the city of Londonderry in Northern Ireland for one of the biggest and best jazz events in Ireland as well as the UK. It’s been running since 2002, funded by Derry City and Strabane District Council, Guinness, and the Department for Communities. It is also supported by BBC Radio Foyle and BBC Radio Ulster. Get the feel good factor as you support some of the best local, national and global pioneers in the jazz scene, and dance to unforgettable jazz anthems along with the other 70,000+ guests descending upon the city. Venues include a number of different streets, squares and clubs, so you’ll get to experience both indoor and outdoor entertainment.
While in Derry, be sure to make time for a road trip along the Causeway Coast, where you will find natural landmarks such as the Giant’s Causeway. The city of Belfast is also located just over an hour away.
When: Every year in May
Where: Various venues in Bath
Stay: In the city or one of the many vacation villages along the coast
Folk by the Oak
The Folk by the Oak is a great festival for non-campers. If you’re looking for an entry-level festival with a boutique atmosphere, family-friendly activities and a short enough distance between stages, this is one to add to your bucket list. Experience the finest folk artists gathered in a beautiful leafy parkland for an exciting and uplifting day of music. A fabulous summer event in Hertfordshire with just two stages and plenty of great food and drink on the day. Located just 20 miles north of London, it’s easy to reach for vacationers looking to explore the English capital.
When: Every year in July
Where: Hatfield House Estate in Hatfield
Stay: In the charming town of Hertford or the spectacular city of St Albans
Sidmouth Folk Week
The friendly coastal town of Sidmouth has been throwing big folk parties since 1955, with a week-long event that takes over the entire resort. As one of the longest running music festivals in the country, it has received prestigious Blue Plaque status, which was awarded as part of BBC Music Day. Combining the British summer and seaside vibes with cutting edge music, this is one of the events not to miss if you’re staying in the south of England.
You’ll find grand marquees and stages to small pubs and inns, as well as the seafront being lined with things to do and performances to watch. With so many major names from folk, jazz and other genres, it’s hard to pick just a few highlights.
When: Every year in July or August
Where: In Sidmouth
Stay: In the nearby Sidbury or Exmouth, or further down the coast in Torquay
EFG London Jazz Festival
Are you looking for a late fall event to attend to warm you up in the cold British weather? This festival takes place in multiple venues across the capital, including The Barbican, The Royal Festival Hall, and small jazz clubs such as Ronnie Scott’s and the Vortex Jazz Club. The lineup is always exciting and you’ll have access to some of the UK’s most progressive jazz acts. The festival even has its own hashtag (#WeAreJazz) so you know it’s made for the young, hip and in-the-know crowds.
When: Every year in November
Where: Various venues in London
Stay: In a luxury boutique near the capital
For the village fete vibe, FolkEast is not to be missed. Travel back in time for the weekend and enjoy some old-fashioned Morris dancing, and watch some of the finest folk and jazz acts. Names include patrons such as The Young’Uns, Lau, Jon Boden, and Fay Hield. Glamping is available on site and the event is generally very well-organized, with easy train links and shuttle buses for visitors.
The festival is also dedicated to reducing plastic and improving sustainability in the local area, sourcing more than 95% of the event infrastructure from within Suffolk.
When: Every year in mid-late August
Where: Glemham Hall in Suffolk
Stay: At the nearby Sibton Park (a luxury 5-star English manor)
Stompin’ On The Quomps
This is a small boutique affair, designed for those who just can’t bear to camp or don’t want to be on their feet for days on end. If you’re here for a luxury vacation, you can stay somewhere nearby and attend the festival which lasts for one day only in August.
Enjoy smooth jazz and big band music, and fantastic food and drink on offer. The local area also has some exquisite travel highlights, including attractions like Highcliffe Castle and Exbury Gardens, and some of the most spectacular beaches.
When: Every year in August
Where: The town of Christchurch in Dorset
Stay: In the beautiful towns of Dorchester or Weymouth
Beverley Fringe Festival
This three-day celebration takes place at Beverley Racecourse and offers up an entire menu of live music acts, stand-up comedy, workshops and spoken word. The festival includes some of the best British folk acts, such as Eddi Reader, Lau, and Jon Boden, as well as a nod to British jazz. You can purchase day or weekend tickets depending on your length of stay.
Whilst you’re here, don’t forget to visit nearby Hull (UK City of Culture in 2017) or drive west across the island to the glorious Yorkshire Dales.
When: Every around mid-June
Where: Beverley Racecourse
Stay: At the stunning Broughton Hall Estate in the Yorkshire Dales
To find out more about our luxury castles and mansion houses available for rent near a festival, get in touch with our team today. We can help you create bespoke travel to anywhere in the UK.