Jazz Festivals in the UK

By Miles Hardman

It’s true that these days the festival circuit is dominated by pop, rock and alternative acts more so than any other genre of music. In fact, the musical aspect of a festival is fast becoming subordinate to the experience itself.

While for some this is changing the music scene for the worse, it’s arguably helping jazz festivals in the UK – something not overtly recognised by the general public. They’re flourishing and standing out as all-music events. Sure, there’s the odd bouncy castle and helter skelter dotted around these sites, but the crux of the weekend is the music. That’s why it’s called a jazz festival!

Are you a fan of jazz? Don’t want to pay hundreds of pounds to be inundated by overblown exhibits of art? Just want to enjoy the music? Here are a few jazz festivals around the UK that might interest you.

Love Supreme

Taking place in the village of Glynde, Sussex, Love Supreme boasts a bill of classic and contemporary jazz. A three day event organised in association with Jazz FM, the site hosts several music stages, including a bandstand, as well as two camp sites. Or, for those of you not accustomed to sleeping under a thin layer of material in the torrential rain, there’s even a portion of the festival dedicated to campervan parking.

The site itself is not as big as that of Glastonbury and the like, but the surrounding countryside and the overlook of the stunning Glynde Place nearby is enough to make up for the festival’s size.

Artists that performed there this year include smaller bands like The Soul Rebels and Radio Music Society, to jazz behemoths Bryan Ferry and Jools Holland. If this sounds like a plan for next year, you’ll be happy to know adult tickets are a fair £120 (including camping) for such big names. See the website for more info.

London Jazz Festival

Unlike most other festivals, the London Jazz Festival isn’t an open-air one. Rather, it takes place in various venues around the capital, not dissimilar to the Camden Crawl or iTunes Festival at the Roundhouse.

Running for just over a week (15-24th November in 2013), tickets are bought for individual artists rather than for a week of music. While this may be off-putting to some, there’s a wide variety of up-and-coming and established jazz artists to choose from, such as Marcus Miller, Stan Sulzmann’s Neon Orchestra and Patty Griffin.

Take a look at the full line-up and add up the costs; you might find that it’s better value for money than most of the popular festivals around today!

Pershore Jazz Festival

Located in the heart of the West Midlands countryside, close to where I live, is the Pershore jazz festival. Famous for its plum growing tradition, Pershore is a quaint market town dominated by the 11th century Abbey, and is conveniently located just down the road from the jazz festival site.

The festival mainly hosts classical jazz musicians, but welcomes more contemporary artists as well as younger performers. The last time it was held was in 2011, but it’s returning this year from the 16-18th August. The town also holds a Jazz Club on the last Wednesday of the month (28th August) if the festival isn’t enough for you.

Tickets for the festival are £40-£50 for the whole weekend, and on-site camping accommodation for both tents and campervans is also available. If you live in the area, it’s definitely worth a look!

Wiltshire Jazz Festival

The Wiltshire Jazz Festival is an annual day-long event. Sitting comfortably in the south west English countryside, it’s as greenfield as festivals come. This year’s event has already been and gone, but a return is likely as organisers saw a pleasing turnout in both 2012 and 2013, so keep an eye out for this next year.

The line-up is consistently rich with world-class musicians from places as far as Brazil, but what’s more is the organisers make it a point to put on an entirely different show each year, meaning the novelty never wears off.

Tickets for this event are a little harder to obtain than most, but if you live in the nearby area then there’s almost no excuse to miss this jazz extravaganza. They even put some of the cash they make towards a worthy cause, so it’s a win-win!

To know more about festivals and other genre of music, check out our post!



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